I have a confession. Although I love eating and growing tomatoes in my summer garden, I’m completely OK with the thought that, until next year, I will not see any more fresh tomatoes stacked up on my wide windowsills or piled precariously in oversized bowls on the counter.
In fact, I have already pulled out the diseased plants from my raised bed garden and I’m happy to move on to fall food like lettuce, butternut squash and apples.
Fresh tomatoes need to be used as quickly as possible after harvesting and never, ever refrigerate them. Chilling destroys tomatoes’ flavor and texture.
Did you know that I grew nearly 250 pounds of fresh tomatoes in the Tomato Envy garden this year? Yeah, that’s right…one-eighth of a ton! Needless to say, I had to work quickly to use them and make sure they didn’t go to waste. Whether or not you aspire to grow lots of tomatoes yourself, they are worth buying locally when they’re in season, at the peak of their quality, and at a reasonable price. But, what do you do with all of them?
Here are 21 ways to use fresh tomatoes. I have not tried all of these ideas (yet!), but for those I have tried, I have included links to the recipes or instructions.
- Can tomatoes for use in recipes all winter.
Roast tomatoes and use immediately or freeze for later.
- Oven dry tomatoes and store in jars covered in extra-virgin olive oil, aka “tomato crack” at our house!
- Make homemade tomato juice.
- Make tomato-basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Make tomato jam. Once you discover the use of tomatoes in sweet – rather than just savory – recipes, your life will change!
- Make a tomato tarte tatin for dessert.
- Make and can pizza sauce (from Marisa McClellan’s Preserving by the Pint).
Make and can tomato salsa, also from Preserving by the Pint.
- Make fresh salsa, or salsa fresca.
- Make a simple caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzerella and basil. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
- Make homemade marinara sauce.
- Make homemade tomato paste.
- Make a tomato cake.
- Make charred cherry tomato margherita pizza. We like to make this one on our Big Green Egg charcoal grill!
- Make homemade tomato ketchup.
- Make gourmet BLTs with the best bacon, bread, lettuce and summer tomatoes you can find.
- Bake tomato halves topped with fresh herbs and serve with parmesan cheese.
- Make fried green tomatoes.
- Stuff hollowed out tomatoes with crab salad.
- Save your best tomato seeds for next year.
- BONUS TIP from Mrs. Obvious: Eat perfectly-ripe, sun-warmed tomatoes right from the vine. Wipe your mouth with your sleeve when no one’s looking.