Ideas for the Tomato Tonnage
After you have made tomato sandwiches, salads, stews, and more, it is tempting to just toss the rest of you CSA or home garden tomato harvest in the compost heap. Preserving tomatos is not that hard and you will thank yourself in the fall for putting up farm fresh goodness. Here are a few ideas for easy preserving: Make pseudo sun-dried tomatos: Halve and dry in a dehydrator or low temp (as low as you can get it, ideally 145 deg F.) oven for 12 - 24 hours. They will be ready to store at room temperature when you can break one in half and see no beads of moisture.
Make easy sauce: Most tomato sauce recipes call for blanching the tomatoes, which is the most time consuming (and burn inducing) part of the work. It is easier to just skip the blanching and puree the whole tomato. Freeze your sauce for less work than canning.
Make ketchup: Ketchup (catsup?) requires a tremendous amount of tomatos. Just yesterday I made a batch with about 15 pounds of tomatos and ended up with a meager three half pints of ketchup. Homemade ketchup is fabulously delicious, making it worth the effort. These are basic directions, which I modified by substituting molasses and honey for sugar and juniper berries for aromatics. If you aren't obsessed with canning like me, just freeze in small containers.
Freeze: As a last resort, throw your maters in the freezer. Whole is fine. Put them in a container to reduce freezer burn. When you thaw frozen whole tomatoes, the texture will be completely broken, but they are still useful to add to stews and sauces.
Even if you do compost rotten tomatos, all is not lost. Our compost heap volunteers have turned out to be fabulous producers!