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Prime-Time Tomatoes

Where the turning seasons still mean something, the vegetables of autumn have a unique poignancy, a “get it while you can” quality that makes the simplest salad special.

In Los Angeles, the seasons are harder to detect. Tomatoes, for instance, are available year-round. But the time when they are fresh, local, inexpensive and delicious is about to end.

So if you’ve got the freezer space, now is the time to put plenty by for the rest of the year.

Easybest Preserved Tomatoes:

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Dip tomatoes very briefly in boiling water, then peel, removing any bruised or blemished spots as you go. Roughly chunk fruit into large bowl.

Choose non-reactive kettle large enough to hold tomatoes in a layer no more than five inches deep. Drain tomato juice into it and bring to boil. Add tomatoes, return to boil and cook one minute more. Add dash of salt (not much, you might want to cook them down later). Allow to cool slightly, then pack in yogurt tubs or other rigid containers, leaving an inch of head room, and freeze. Use in any recipe in which tomatoes will be cooked.

Stewed Tomatoes:

Pour thin film of olive oil into kettle and saute onion, celery and/or peppers until lightly cooked before adding tomato juice and proceeding as above. Add basil and/or parsley right before turning off the heat.

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