For many gardeners, nothing says summer any better than vine-ripened tomatoes. And even if you don’t grow them yourself, this time of year great tasting tomatoes are readily available from farmer’s markets and roadside stands. While homegrown fresh tomatoes are truly a seasonal treat, here at Happy Acres we like to enjoy the tomato-y goodness all year long. Here are my five favorite ways to preserve tomatoes, with links to more detailed information:
Dehydrating tomatoes is one of my all-time favorite ways to preserve them. Drying concentrates their flavor, while at the same time conserving storage space. And you can dry any size or shape tomato, from the smallest cherry and grape types to the larger paste tomatoes and slicers. Once dried, they can be reconstituted by soaking in water, then used in a variety of dishes from pizza to pasta, omelets to salads, and in yummy creations like Sun-dried Tomato Pesto or Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. You can also make tomato powder by putting the dried tomatoes in a spice grinder or food processor. Store the dehydrated tomatoes in a glass jar or other air-tight container away from heat or sunlight, or do like we do and store in the freezer for even better quality.
As far as condiments go, ketchup is a perennial favorite. While Aussies have their Vegemite, and the French have Dijon mustard, tomato ketchup is an American classic. I certainly like mayonaisse, soy sauce, and other condiments too, but for me a hamburger or meat loaf isn’t complete unless it has some ketchup on it! I’ve been making homemade ketchup from red-ripe tomatoes for years. And now that my wife has fallen in love with the homemade stuff, she’s been making it for us too. While it takes a few hours to cook down the ketchup to the right consistency, the finished result is worth it to me.
I can thank our friend Lydia for telling me about this great dish. She used this method whenever she had a bumper crop of her two favorite tomatoes, Sun Gold and Juliet. Like dehydrating, slow-roasted concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes, but you use the oven instead of a dehydrator. Smaller tomatoes work well for this recipe, so it’s a great way to use up any extra cherry and grape tomatoes you might have on hand. The tomatoes freeze well after roasting, so that way you can enjoy them all winter long. They can be used in many of the same ways you use dehydrated tomatoes.
If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix or Ninja, you can use it to speed up processing when making tomato sauce. There’s no need to skin or peel the tomatoes when you make sauce this way. That not only cuts the preparation time considerably, but it also helps thicken the sauce and adds some fiber to the finished product. The Vitamix has changed the way I make tomato sauce, and if you give it a try it might change the way you make it too!
This is something I like to make with those end of season green tomatoes. Many green salsa recipes call for tomatillos, but this recipe uses green tomatoes, peppers, onions and a few other ingredients to make a great tasting salsa. It will keep well in the freezer for up to a year.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at my five favorite ways to preserve tomatoes. If you have your own favorite ways with tomatoes, I’d love to hear about them. And if you try any of my methods I’d like to hear about it too.