Whether you are up for a weekend project or have some extra space in your freezer, you can bring the taste of summer into the next season. Don't let a bounty harvest (or generosity of friends) go to mush! Tomatoes can be preserved in a variety of ways. Tomatoes can be easily frozen with very little effort or equipment. Bruised, overripe and damaged tomatoes can be stewed or sauced. Cooked tomatoes and sauce can be simply frozen or preserved using traditional (and more involved) methods of canning.
- If you are concerned about wildfire ash on produce, wash under running water. For a more thorough cleaning, soak in a 10% white vinegar solution (e.g. one cup vinegar to nine cups water), which can lift soil particles off. Learn more about Smoke Ash on Produce.
Freezing is the easiest long-term storage for whole ripe tomatoes. You can do large or tiny batches as your tomatoes ripen. Frozen tomatoes can be used for pasta, sauces and soups. Because freezing changes the texture, don't expect to use them in a salad or sandwich. Ripe (but not overripe) tomatoes are best for freezing.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes.
- Core full-sized whole tomatoes. Leave cherry tomatoes whole.
- Freeze on a cookie sheet or other flat surface with space in between, so they don't stick together.
- When they are completely frozen, put them into a container or zipper bag.
- Label container with contents and date.
- Tomatoes will keep for 6 months to one year. Quality will be better if you remove the air from the storage container.
- If you run the whole frozen tomatoes under warm water before adding them to your recipe, the skins will slip off and peel off easily.
- The whole tomatoes are like whole canned tomatoes.
For stewed tomatoes or sauce, your tomatoes don't have to look pretty to be delicious. Simply cut away the bruised or damaged parts.
Ugly Tomato Sauce (from Food Network)
- 8 medium overripe and cracked or bruised tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Trim away the bruised, cracked or moldy parts of the tomatoes and discard. Roughly chop the tomatoes, reserving their juices, and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic and onion, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with about half of their juices (discard the rest), thyme and basil leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and add pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- You can even add green tomatoes into your sauce or stewed tomatoes.
- Some people add in a tomato stem for added flavor. Remove stem before serving or storing.
- Resources for Home Preserving Tomatoes - National Center for Home Food Preservation
- How to Preserve Tomatoes - The Spruce Eats
- How to Freeze Tomatoes - University of Nebraska Lincoln
- Ugly Tomato Sauce - Food Network Kitchen
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