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The Traditional Step-by-Step Process for Harvesting and Jarring Tomatoes in Italy

Italy Food + Drink
by Matador Creators Jan 17, 2023

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a freshly jarred tomato, and if there’s one country that knows how to jar tomatoes right, it’s Italy. For centuries, Italians have been perfecting the art of jarring tomatoes, making them an essential ingredient in traditional Italian recipes.

@foodwtf Jarring #tomatosauce is a tradition for many Italian families. Tomatoes are typically jarred at the end of summer to preserve their freshness 🍅 🎥 IG: @tenutabertarello #italianfood #pasta #pastatiktok ♬ original sound – Foodwtf

The practice of preserving tomatoes in jars dates back centuries in Italy, though it has evolved over time. Initially, Italians would simply harvest ripe tomatoes and then store them in lidded terracotta vessels. This allowed them to enjoy the flavor of summer year round. As glass jars became more widely available, however, Italians began preserving their tomatoes by filling jars with their homegrown produce and submerging them in boiling water for sterilization. This process, known as “bain-marie,” is still used today.

Italian tomatoes are harvested on small farms throughout Italy, which use traditional methods for growing and picking their tomatoes. The vines are grown in greenhouses and then carefully monitored by farmers to ensure that the fruits are picked at just the right moment once they’re full-bodied and ripe. When picked, the tomatoes are quickly washed, peeled, blanched, and prepared for jarring.

Once they have been prepped, the tomatoes are placed in sterilized jars along with sea salt or herbs like oregano or basil. The jars are then heated using a pressure cooker which seals the jars while also preserving all of the juicy goodness inside. After heating, each jar is cooled off before undergoing visual inspection to make sure it is properly sealed and that there is no contamination. If everything looks good, then the label is added. And since everything is done by hand on these small farms, each jar is unique.

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