My Five Favorite Ways to Preserve Tomatoes

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:

1. Dehydrated Tomatoes

handful of dehydrated tomatoes

handful of dehydrated tomatoes

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.

2. Homemade Tomato Ketchup

jars of homemade ketchup

jars of homemade ketchup

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.

3. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

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.

4. Vitamix Tomato Sauce

Vitamix Freezer Tomato Sauce

Vitamix Freezer Tomato Sauce

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!

5. Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

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.

 

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9 Responses to My Five Favorite Ways to Preserve Tomatoes

  1. Michelle says:

    One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes and one that makes a big dent in a big pile of them is tomato paste. I make a simple tomato puree, cook it down very slowly, then spread it out on dehydrator trays and dry it until very very thick. I keep it frozen in 1/2 cup jam jars in the freezer. The natural sugars are so concentrated that the paste doesn’t freeze rock hard so it’s possible to just cut chunks of the paste out of the jar without defrosting the entire jar.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – July 28, 2014My Profile

    • Dave says:

      Tomato paste is another great way to preserve tomatoes. I made some last year like you did by cooking down a tomato puree, but I didn’t take the extra step and try drying on the dehydrator tray. I will try that this year. Thanks for the great tip Michelle!

  2. Margaret says:

    Great ideas – I especially love the slow roasting for the cherry tomatoes – there always seems to be too many to use up all at once. I often end up freezing them whole in little baggies and them using them for a quick pasta but this sounds like a delicious alternative.
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – July 28, 2014My Profile

  3. Thomas says:

    I will have to make a note to try your green salsa verde recipe this fall. I love pickling green tomatoes but there always seems to be such an abundance that will never ripen properly.
    Thomas recently posted…The Glut of SummerMy Profile

  4. Dave's SFG says:

    I’m going to be using some of your methods this summer. Just bought a dehydrator and am waiting for enough Juliets to dry, if the birds and chipmunks would just leave them alone. Another trick of mine is to make a big batch of stewed green beans and tomatoes (uses beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic and a chili or two, all in supply right now). I have a meal and then freeze the rest in meal sized portions. They freeze very well.
    Dave’s SFG recently posted…Harvest Monday 28 July 2014My Profile

  5. Daphne says:

    When I grew tomatoes it was the Annie’s Salsa that topped my husband’s list. Mine was always just plain tomato sauce because I could make so many things with it.
    Daphne recently posted…Onion HarvestMy Profile

  6. Green Bean says:

    Perfect timing! I have a glut of tomatoes on the kitchen counter just waiting to be processed! I think I’ll try the high speed blender version.

  7. Lisa says:

    I love your slow-roasted tomato idea! Now if only I had an excess of tomatoes… My garden gets a lot of shade, so I usually don’t end up with an abundance of tomatoes. However, one can always hope!

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