Home & Garden Home Tomatoes Are the Most Useful Food to Preserve By Katherine Martinko Katherine Martinko Twitter Senior Editor University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated September 24, 2019 ©. K Martinko – Home-canned tomatoes Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home Sustainable Eating Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Family Green Living Thrift & Minimalism Come September, I try to fill as many jars as I can. I spent all of last Sunday canning tomatoes. It's a mid-September ritual that, every year, I think I'm going to skip because it's so much work, but then the season rolls around and I can't imagine not doing it. It's partly self-imposed pressure to continue a tradition that I grew up watching my mother, aunt, and grandmother do every fall. But mostly I do it because I love having a well-stocked pantry. I feel satisfied seeing those jars of beautiful tomatoes, every single one of which I've handled, knowing that my family has a food supply that cannot be affected by power outages. I like knowing that those tomatoes are locally grown, that they haven't been shipped from a drought-ridden part of the world, that there's no BPA in the lining, that I can reuse the same jars, year after year. A few friends quizzed me on why I can tomatoes, of all things. Pickles and jams seem to be more popular items, but I do tomatoes because I use them the most. They're by far the most versatile item in my pantry, the building blocks of countless recipes. With a jar of tomatoes, I'm halfway to a great pasta sauce. I can blend it up for instant pizza sauce, turn it into a summery tomato soup on a cold winter day, or thicken up a dal or curry. So, I tackled my four huge bags of Roma tomatoes, purchased from a local food co-op, first thing in the morning on Sunday. It was supposed to be 40 pounds, but when I measured out half of one bag, it was 10 pounds, so really, I think I got more like 80 pounds of tomatoes. All I know is, it was a lot and it took me five hours to finish. It takes a while to get the assembly line up and running. There's a pot of boiling water for scalding the tomatoes, a cutting board to peel them, a colander set over a bowl to collect the skins, seeds, and cores. More bowls fill with prepared tomato halves, while I heat a canner on the stove with empty jars in it. Another small pot softens the new snap lids. Tea towels are spread on the counters to receive the just-boiled jars. But once everything gets going, I move steadily toward the end goal. The key is not to stop. I have learned over the years to reserve a large chunk of time for this project, rather than chip away at it over a few days. I tell my family to clear out and stay away, unless they want to help. And then, once I feel like I can't peel another tomato, I do another dozen.