Natomas' Bill Bird, author of Sacramento Vegetable Gardening, shares his lessons on preserving the backyard tomato harvest: "If there's one other hard lesson I've learned about home-canning efforts, it's this: One does not make an appointment with the garden to tackle a canning project. The garden doesn't make an appointment with you, either. (Next Sunday good with you? OK!) The vegetable garden tells you when it's ready. Best be prepared. Miss a day? Miss a lot. When the garden is ready, you're ready. Those 50 ripe tomatoes aren't going to sit around and wait for you forever and a day
"The payoff for all this hard work comes in the dead of winter. Grocery stores are selling rocks disguised as red tomatoes for $3 a pound or more. Although you can pick up two or three cans of off-brand sauce for a buck, there's nothing quite like the feeling or smell of opening a jar of heirloom tomatoes that you processed the previous summer."
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