We love our garden. Being frugal people gardening is something that just comes naturally to us. We get a few seeds, start them in late winter and plant them in early spring. Tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cantaloupe and cucumbers are so easy to grow in a backyard garden. But if you plant 15 tomato plants like we did, wait three months and you’ll have a big problem: hundreds of tomatoes! What do you do when every day you’re pulling 20 ripe tomatoes out of your garden!?
This is a list of the things we are doing this year! We’ll link to a few awesome blogs that have great step-by-step instructions, and give you our killer tomato sauce recipe!
1. Canning. So many people can fresh tomatoes. A huge benefit of canning is that you don’t have to use precious freezer space for your tomatoes. If you have never canned, it’s a pretty straight forward process. There are hundreds of blogs and websites that talk about canning. If you are looking for a step-by-step process on how to can fresh tomatoes, check out the video below.
2. Freezing. We love to freeze tomatoes. You can freeze tomatoes many different ways. The fastest way is just to freeze whole tomatoes with the skins or peels. Simply cut out the stem, and place them into the freezer for 12 hours. Once frozen, transfer them into freezer bags and seal. This system is ideal because when you go to thaw them out just run them under some hot water and the skins will just come right off. You can also peel tomatoes before freezing. To do this, just wash your tomatoes and then place into boiling water for 1-2 minutes. The skins will literally just slide right off. Once you have the skins off, place them in the freezer, let them freeze thoroughly then place into freezer bags and seal well. If you are wondering how long frozen tomatoes last, we usually try to use them within 6 months, but most well sealed tomatoes will last for about a year.
3. Make Tomato Sauce. This is our preferred method and we simply either can or freeze the sauce. We find that it the fastest and easiest when dealing with our tomatoes. Simply take off the stems and puree them in a food processor. Some people say that you get sticks doing this (the skin getting caught in your teeth), but we haven’t really ever found this to be true. Once the tomatoes are pureed we then slowly cook them with some onions and garlic cloves and then wait for it to cool. We then place the sauce into freezer bags. Some say this isn’t ideal because freezing with onions and garlic might strengthen their flavors, but we love those flavors so we don’t mind. If you’d like to do this method, brown some onions and garlic, place them into a large skillet. Puree enough tomatoes to fill up the skillet and let the sauce simmer for about 3 hours on medium low.
4. Make Tomato Paste. If during the freezing, canning or saucing process you remove the tomato’s skin, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. Tomato skins are great for making tomato paste, we’ve done this many times in the past when canning. If you are curious about this and want an excellent blog post, check out this blog. She does a great job explaining the process!!
Of course if you don’t want to do any of these options, you always can give away your tomatoes to your friends, family or local food bank! Happy eating!