As summer winds down into the gorgeous chill days of fall, gardens are finally running out of steam on producing tomatoes. If you’ve read earlier articles you know how much fun I’ve had with gardening in my neighborhood this summer! Baskets upon baskets of these lovely red jewels. And now, sadly, my final harvest is coming to fruit on the vine, and soon I’ll pull up the plants before Jack Frost takes them away.
For those who still have one last bumper crop, or have a huge pile on the counter starting to soften, here are 5 ways to easily preserve tomatoes for all year round. From as simple as cut & freeze to the process of canning (made simple with my one easy trick!) there are lots of ways to put up what you have now for when it is no longer available fresh, and preserve the lovely nutrients inside.
Option 1: Cut & Freeze
The simplest of all: just cut up your tomatoes into halves or quarters, and toss into a freezer bag. Label and put in the freezer. Later, you can use these tomatoes in sauces, soups, stews, and chilies with no problem. If you want to remove the skins, simply defrost and the skins will fall right off! Or you can leave whole, or puree them with the skins on.
Option 2: Oven Drying
It is oh-so-easy to dry your own tomatoes! All you really need is a wire rack, a knife, oodles of tomatoes (preferably roma), and some time. See my article How to Make Oven Dried Tomatoes.
Option 3: Canning diced tomatoes
Canning your own diced tomatoes is a snap! As long as you have the time to invest, canning your own will create a much healthier, flavorful option than store-bought cans. Simply dice up your tomatoes, place in a canning jar, and process. Be sure to always follow the rules of safe canning whether using a water bath or pressure canning method.
Option 4: Canning pasta sauce
Canning pasta sauce is only slightly more involved than diced tomatoes in that you add spices to the jars. I added fresh basil, garlic salt, and dried onion. Read the full article HERE.
Option 5: Turn them into tomato products
If plain tomatoes aren’t your favorite, there are still SO MANY tomato-based products we use daily that you can make in your own kitchen. Give some or all of them a try:
- Don’t Waste the Crumbs has a great DIY Ketchup Recipe
- BBQ Sauce
- Tomato juice for drinking (like V8 but with fewer preservatives!)
- Salsa &/or relish
- Tomato paste
- Tomato Powder
- Tomato Soup (can also be frozen/canned)
And there you have it, easy ways to preserve tomato bounty! Any home gardener who has weathered at least one tomato season has had more chopped fresh tomatoes than they could handle, and these are all tried-and-true preservation methods. Using these techniques you can enjoy the flavor of summer all year long.