Sorting Tomatoes for Canning and Fresh Use
From Late May through Early July is Spring Tomato harvesting time around here.
With the raised beds (and a bit of Frost Cloth) we were able to plant the tomatoes early (and avoid die off from late Spring Frosts) so we have quite a harvest this year!
We use cookie sheets to lay out tomatoes in a single layer so it is easy to sort them by ripeness and by type. The Romas are canned; the other varieties are used for fresh salads, sandwiches, or snacks as they ripen. The only exception to that rule around here is when we make salsa – the Romas cook down almost completely so other varieties are cut into quarters (or smaller if the tomatoes large) and then added to the salsa for “chunks”.
When the tomatoes begin to ripen in May, we generate pick enough to fill a single cookie sheet; during most of June, that increases to 3 or 4 cookie sheets worth of tomatoes. It takes about 2 1/2 to 3 cookie sheets worth of tomatoes to produce 5 quarts – the number of jars that I can fit into my tomato canning pot. So, we can five jars at a time and allow the remaining tomatoes to ripen until there enough for another 5 quarts.
Sort the more ripened tomatoes from the less ripened tomatoes (once the birds and animals identify the tomato plants for food, we picked them as soon as there is some color change to indicate ripening).
Remove tomatoes damaged from insects and animals, as well as the overly right tomatoes that have begun rotting.
Harvest, Sort, Can, and Repeat the process for 6 to 8 weeks. Then, it’s time to enjoy the harvest until next year!