Food For Thought: Preserving Tomatoes

July 19, 2021

By Mary Parker Draper, Extension Agent – Smith County

Did you know tomatoes may not be considered to be highly acidic? New tomato varieties, over-mature fruits, and tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines may have a pH greater than 4.6. To ensure a safe acid level for boiling water canning of whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, it is recommended to add bottled lemon juice or citric acid directly to jars before filling the jars with the product. 

Tomatoes can be preserved by drying, freezing, or pickling, as well. They can even be used in making fruit spreads like jams, jellies, and marmalades, depending on their acid level. Tomatoes are a great item to dry. They do not need to be blanched and are dried to a crisp.  

Freezing tomatoes will likely result in a soft texture and is more appropriate for cooking, such as in soups, stews, and spaghetti sauces. Tomato products, such as chili sauce and catsup, can be frozen.  

If you decide to pickle your tomatoes, commercially prepared vinegar is typically needed to achieve the required acidity. Do not change vinegar, food, or water measurements in a recipe or use vinegar with unknown acidity. Use only recipes with tested quantities of ingredients. There must be a minimum, uniform level of acid throughout the mixed product to prevent the growth of botulism. 

For more information on this or other family topics, contact Mary Draper, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for UT Extension in Smith County, at 615-735-2900. 

Shrimp Marinara

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 medium bay leaf
  • 3 ½ cups hot cooked linguine (8 oz. uncooked)
  • 1 ½ cups original Prego Extra Chunky Spaghetti sauce
  • In 10 inch skillet over medium heat, in hot oil, cook onions and green peppers with garlic and bay leaf until tender. Add remaining ingredients except linguine. Simmer 5 minutes or until shrimp turns pink, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Serve over linguine. Makes 7 cups or 4 servings.
  • Submitted by Gale Burns, Carthage FCE Club.