Supremely ripe, juicy summer tomatoes are worth waiting for, but with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can save that great tangy flavor to enjoy later in the year. Can, freeze, dry, or just simply cook down tomatoes with the methods below. Some of these methods require a bit of time, but none require special skills or anything terribly complicated.
Canning tomatoes are the classic way of turning fresh, ripe tomatoes into something you can enjoy all year long. Whole peeled tomatoes are perfect for turning into sauces, using on pizzas, and adding into stews. All you need is tomatoes, a large pot, sealable jars, and some time. No special skills required, we promise.
These canned chopped tomatoes involve an extra step or two, compared to the whole peeled tomatoes above, but they’re even easier to use after they’ve been canned since they’re already all chopped up.
This ultra-simple tomato sauce (really a cooked down tomato purée with some salt in it) is great for canning because it is so basic. You can add any herbs, spices, or other flavor agents later when you know how you’re going to use it!
Freezing tomatoes is the easiest way to keep ripe tomatoes until you’re ready to use them. You don’t have to peel them first—in fact, the act of freezing them itself makes the tomatoes insanely easy to peel!—and you can freeze as many or as few at a time as you like.
Also, unlike canned tomatoes or dried tomatoes, which are best made with low-moisture tomatoes, juicier or more tender varieties can be frozen with great success. Of course, they are then best used in recipes that require cooking the tomatoes—know that these won’t look so great in a tomato salad once they defrost.
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These oven-dried tomatoes aren’t so dried out that they’ll keep forever, but if you put them in a jar and cover them with olive oil and pop them in the fridge, they’ll last a nice long time indeed. Then pull them out to chop and add to winter salads, pasta, stews, or even roasts.
Calling this “tomato paste” almost isn’t right. It’s almost more of a magical elixir, adding its rich tomato essence to everything it touches. It’s a fair amount of work, but it’s worth it! A bit here and a dab there as the cold winter months go by and you’ll be adding tons of flavor to endless dishes. Your future self will thank whoever took the time to cook beautifully ripe tomatoes down into this intensely flavored, deeply colored homemade tomato paste.