This spring, a friend encouraged me to start some tomato plants. I was hesitant because the Pacific Northwest has a relatively short growing season. But, I bought four packets of seeds for $8.27 and decided to start them all indoors. I wound up with 152 tomato plants. To put that in perspective, the Farmers Almanac states that 8 tomato plants will provide enough produce for a family of Four… So I have a few tomatoes to preserve for the winter.
So what does one do with an excess of tomatoes? I did some research and the tomato is fairly versatile. I started oven drying some this weekend to store in the freezer and even just freezing the cherry tomatoes whole for future use. It’s nice to have an excess of something because it causes for creative solutions. I prepared a few quarts of whole tomatoes, but here are some of the other methods of preservation I used to enjoy the tomato throughout the seasons.
1. Make a fresh Tomato Salad… and eat. This is a no brainer, and especially pleasing to the eye if you are growing more than one color of tomato.
2. Oven dry or dehydrate sliced tomatoes and store in the freezer. I have an affinity for these small morsels because they really pack a punch. I chose to oven dry the tomatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil. It really is simple… just set the oven to about 175 degrees and in a single layer the tomatoes on parchment paper and after a few hours they are ready to be cooled and stored. I plan on packing them in small jars with oil and choice herbs for future use, but the freezer is going to work now. I’m thinking they might make decent gifts sometime.
3. Freeze the cherry tomatoes. I heard from several people and have read that this is a good and quick way to store tomatoes for future use in pastas or soups.
4. Fresh Salsa is also easy to make and pretty easy to store in jars. I think they will make nice bases for chili or other soups if not consumed with a tortilla chip.
These are just some of the ideas I had with the tomatoes from this season. As it is getting colder, I’m plucking off green tomatoes and found there are quite a few recipes using unripened tomatoes. There are relishes, soups, and even jams one can make from green tomatoes… but I haven’t quite found something that I need to try… yet.