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Tomatoes are a summer gardeners favorite. They grow well and the reward is high. But sometimes you find yourself with a bumper crop that leaves you wondering how to preserve tomatoes and keep them from going bad.
This year if you find yourself with an abundance you can use these three simple ways to preserve your tomatoes. Don’t let your hard work or that big sale go to waste.
The easiest way for most families to preserve tomatoes is freezing. It doesn’t take any special tools and anyone can do it. The main downside to freezing tomatoes is the amount of space that frozen tomatoes take up. If you have the freezer space this is a great option for you.
How to Freeze Tomatoes
Freezing uncooked tomatoes is easy. They can be used in any cooked tomato dish and they take very little work.
The first thing you want to do is to chop them up. Then, place the tomatoes into freezer bags that are appropriate to the proportions you plan on using when you pull them out. Make sure to leave some room in the bags because they will expand when they freeze.
If you don’t use a lot of tomatoes at once you can opt to freeze diced tomatoes on a cookie sheet first before putting them in a freezer bag. Freezing the diced tomatoes on a cookie sheet first will make it to the tomatoes don’t stick to each other when frozen and you can use the amount of tomatoes needed in your recipe.
When it comes to freezing cooked tomatoes you have a few options. You can cook them into dishes for basic meal prep and freeze.
You can also make your own tomato sauce and freeze that into appropriate portions, or you can choose to blanch and freeze tomatoes.
How to Blanch Tomatoes
Blanching is the way to go if you want to freeze whole tomatoes.
Fill a large pot with a gallon of water and bring to a boil. Slice a small x in the bottom of each tomato. Toss them into the pot of boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until the skins crack. Then dump into a bowl of ice water.
This will make it easy to peel the tomatoes before freezing and preserve the color and flavor.
Next, you want to peel the tomato, this is really easy to do. I have found the most success by holding the tomato gently in my hand, with my hand on the top of the tomato, almost like I am pinching the tomato with all my fingers. Then gently squeeze the tomato and have it slide out of the skin into your other hand.
How to Preserve Cherry Tomatoes
If you have a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, one of my favorite ways of preserving these are to make and freeze oven-dried tomatoes.
I’ve used this recipe in the past and the tomatoes turned out great. I had a huge stash of these that I would use in place of sun-dried tomatoes in recipes.
A classic way to store cooked tomatoes is to can them. Canned tomatoes keep their rich flavor and don’t take up valuable freezer space.
This is a bit more work than freezing and takes canning equipment but opens a whole new set of doors.
From canned tomatoes and peppers for winter chili to homemade spaghetti sauce and salsa, canning is a great way to stock your pantry.
Choose your favorite ways to use tomatoes when winter comes, such as ketchup, salsa, BBQ sauce, etc and have a stock of fresh home canned goodies waiting for you.
If you need a great book with a lot of canned tomato recipes, I have and love this book.
If you are really pressed for space dehydrating may be the way to go for you. The rich flavor of sundried tomatoes are a favorite for many. Making them at home is easy with an electric dehydrator.
This is the dehydrator that I have. I’ve used it for several years and made a ton of different recipes with it. If you want something less expensive I’ve also used one similar to this one at my parents’ house and it worked great.
Slice tomatoes and lay in single layers on your trays drying for 8 to 12 hours.
Use thick slices for sun-dried tomatoes for cooking and snacking.
Use thin slices for tossing into your food processor to make tomato powder that can become soups and sauces.