THE PRICES of goods and services
in the country are on the increase. It
has assumed a two-pronged problem
as people complain of lack of money
to buy foodstuffs due to the economic
situation in the country. From cities to
the villages, people are going through
difficult times in terms of socioeconomic
This year’s late arrival of the rain is
the major problem farmers are facing.
Food crops are not yielding well
because the delay or scarcity of rainfall
in many parts of the country. This has
made food stuff scarce and costly in the
markets. Some consumers lamented
that it is difficult for them to buy just
small quantity of foodstuff like fresh
pepper, tomatoes, onion due to its
outrageous prices.
Nevertheless, many Nigerians are
of the view that the best way to avert
the high cost of goods in the market is
to take good preservative measures in
order to make sure that there is enough
food for the people at affordable prices
at all times.
A civil servant, Mr. Nicholas Nwatu,
said that he wondered: “How can
people cope in this economic hardship,
especially now that prompt payment
of salaries has become serious issues
nationwide, both in public and private
sectors? Method of preserving food
during this period of scarcity is therefore
He therefore called for adequate
silos for storage and preservation of
foodstuffs during harvest, saying the
items should be released to the markets
during planting, festive periods and
other activities that normally affect food
There are different ways of preserving
and storing food stuff, especially the
perishable ones for future uses. Taking
tomatoes as one of the perishable
vegetable for example, there are many
ways it can be stored. Some of the ways
include, freezing, steaming, drying and
Mr. Samuel Orji believes that the
freezer is the best means of preservation
but lamented that people look down
on it. “When we talk about storing and
preserving fruit and vegetables, we
usually think of jams, pickles, and canned
goods. But the freezer is also a muchoverlooked
tool for preserving.
It’s not really a good option for most
city-dwellers because you cannot pack a
good quantity of some of these vegetables
and fruits like tomatoes in a tiny freezer.
But if you live in a larger home or have
access to a chest freezer, then you can
preserve these fruits and vegetables so
easily”, he said.
Mrs. Grace Bassey maintained that
perishable vegetables like tomatoes and
pepper may be preserved by frozen
whole, sliced or puréed. She added that
it can be frozened raw or cooked, as juice
or sauce, or prepared in the recipe of your
Method of preservation according to
Mrs. Bassey include selecting ripped
tomatoes for freezing, sort the tomatoes
and throw away rotten ones. Wash them
in clean water and dry them with a clean
cloth or paper towels.
Prepare tomatoes as described above.
Cut away the stem scar. Place the
tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze.
Tomatoes do not need to be blanched
before freezing. Once frozen, transfer
the tomatoes from the cookie sheets into
freezer bags or other containers and seal
However, Mrs. Joy Ikeh argued
that, dehydration removes water from
tomatoes in order to preserve them. She
added that amount of time it takes to dry
tomatoes depends on the tomato variety,
the air’s humidity during the drying
process, the thickness of the tomato
slices or pieces, and the efficiency of the
dehydrator or oven.
“The best tomatoes to dry are firm,
ripe and meaty. This type is usually oval
shaped and called an Italian, Roma,
plum, pear, or paste tomato. These
varieties contain fewer seeds and more
pulp and so produce dried tomatoes
of better quality. Varieties such as
beefsteaks that contain high levels
of gel surrounding the seeds are not
recommended for drying”.
Mrs. Ikeh stated that the secret to
dehydrating tomatoes successfully
is to control the temperature and
air circulation. If held at too low a
temperature less than 32°C, the product
will dry too slowly, giving bacteria or
mold a chance to grow. But at higher
temperatures, the tomatoes will dry
very well and make it to stay for a
longer period of time.
Many believed that properly dried
tomatoes have a dark red color and
feel dry and leathery, but not hard or
brittle. When you touch a properly
dried tomato in the center, no tomato
pulp should stick to your finger.
They said that tomatoes do not have
to be sun-bleached before drying,
urging that those living in high
temperatures areas can preserve their
tomatoes through drying.
Experts advised that during sun
drying, air must circulate around and
under each tray, so the trays should not
be stacked. The cheesecloth or netting
should be raised above the trays so that
it does not touch the tomatoes. Turn the
tomatoes from cut-side-up to cut-sidedown
once a day for even drying.
Many house wives believe that this
step is important as it prevents the
dried tomatoes from reabsorbing
moisture. It will probably take at least
5 to 6 days, and perhaps as long as
a week, to complete the sun drying
process. The time will vary according
to the air temperature and the size and
type of tomatoes being dried.
Mrs. Peace Kalu said that canning
is another method of preserving
and storing tomatoes for future use.
There are two types of canning,
which include water-bath canning.
This method sometimes referred to
as hot water canning, uses a large
kettle of boiling water. Filled jars are
submerged in the water and heated to
an internal temperature of 212 degrees
for a specific period of time.
Pressure canning: This system of
canning uses a large kettle that produces
steam in a locked compartment. The
filled jars in the kettle reach an internal
temperature of 240 degrees under a
specific pressure that’s measured with
a dial gauge or weighted gauge on the
pressure-canner cover.
Experts said that these information
are necessary in order to assist
Nigerians preserve fragile food stuff in
this season of scarcity.

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