Last updated: July 30. 2013 3:47PM - 887 Views

Abington Journal/Joan Mead-MatsuiGwen Bernardi, 4, South Abington Township spotted a toad in the grass while at the community garden with her mother.
Abington Journal/Joan Mead-MatsuiGwen Bernardi, 4, South Abington Township spotted a toad in the grass while at the community garden with her mother.
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Fiery Tomato Preserves Recipe

by Marie King, Community Gardener and Park Volunteer

Something different to cook up from your garden tomatoes. Lovely served with cheeses and sausages. Pour over cream cheese for a pretty appetizer. Recipe is for about six ½ pint jars. Halve the recipe and use within a week or so if not canning.


About two pounds of tomatoes, preferably Roma, thinly sliced and halved.

Peeled if desired but not necessary.

4 cups of sugar

Grated rind of one lemon

3 lemons, thinly sliced, seeded and halved

2 – 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped


Wash and slice tomatoes. Combine in bowl with sugar, toss gently and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Strain liquid from tomatoes into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, setting tomatoes aside.

Bring liquid to a boil until it thickens into a gel like consistency. It will thicken further upon cooling. New to preserves? Search ‘jelling point’ for tips and techniques.

Add tomatoes, grated lemon, lemon slices and jalapeños* to taste.

Carefully bring back to a boil all the while stirring. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.

Return to bowl, cool and then refrigerate overnight to plump tomatoes so they don’t float in gel.

Reheat to boiling, spoon into clean, hot ½ pint jars (makes approximately three pints) leaving ¼” headspace and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

* Jalapeños vary in size and potency. Adapt as necessary to your taste, keeping in mind flavors intensify when chilled. You’ll want a bit of kick to override the sweetness. You can also substitute habaneras or any spicy pepper you may happen to have on hand.

The Abington Community Garden at Hillside Park, South Abington Township, formerly Abington Area Community Park was a hub of activity for local gardeners and approximately 30 members of a group known as “Lowe’s Heroes” on July 25 and 27 as part of a “Lowe’s Days” event.

Lowe’s Distribution Center, Pittston, sent a group of their heroes to help gardeners spruce up the hillside garden located on Winola Road, adjacent to the Abington Senior Center. They also provided lunch and water for the crowd.

“What we like to do is go out into the community and identify areas that need some assistance. We have a Lowe’s project every year where we help out with local community activities and they chose the community garden this year,” said John Worthington, weekend operations manager of Pittston Lowe’s 1449. “We have our motto, which is, ‘Never stop improving.

“We went to a local store in the area (Dickson City) and they donated… edging and tools such as rakes, hoes and weed whackers,” he added. “They really look to invest in the community, which is really nice.”

Carolyn Crowley, garden founder and organizer, wrote and submitted a grant to the Lowe’s Home Improvement Corporation. When a manager at the distribution center contacted her, she said he told her,“he loves the project and the idea, and he would be happy to partner with us. It is a perfect match because we do have a lot of labor intensive hours that go into the garden.”

“When I submitted the grant, I never thought it was even a possibility,” she added, referring to more than $2,000 worth of garden tools, plants and materials donated by Lowe’s to the community garden.

Worthington said the Lowe’s team helped at Hillside Park by removing the old weed guard, weeding and laying new guard; mulching in the common (picnic) area; pressure washing outdoor lawn furniture and picnic tables; planting; digging a trench; and putting in cement dividers and edging.

Master Gardener and park volunteer Donna Zagrapan was one of the garden members pitching in at the Lowe’s Days event July 25 and served as co-organizer with Crowley.

“Many of the workers have a plot at the garden. Part of being a member at the garden is helping out and pitching in as a community. It’s a community garden and if you don’t want to help out as a community then you grow tomatoes in your backyard. But if you don’t have the kind of backyard where you can grow vegetables, you come here and work as a community to maintain the garden,” said Crowley.

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