Preserving My Tomatoes

Well, I guess I got what I wanted. A bumper tomato harvest. This year’s weather in British Columbia couldn’t have been more ideal for tomato plants; sun, sun and more sun. I am so excited about all these wonderful tomatoes.

I have so many that I am giving a bag to anyone that comes by our house these days – exactly like how someone growing more than one zucchini plant would do with zucchinis haha.

Heirloom tomatoes

With all these homegrown tomatoes it’s time to get in the kitchen and preserve them for the winter!

It is time to preserve some tomatoes, so we get to enjoy the taste of summer in the middle of the winter. My favourite methods are to either make tomato sauce and can it or to make oven roasted tomatoes and freeze them.

How I make tomato sauce

First thing I’d recommend you do is to put your favourite radio station or your favourite album on (might as well hit ‘repeat’) as you will be in the kitchen for a while. My second recommendation is to put an apron on… things are about to get messy!

Then I fill a big bowl with water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar and about two tablespoons of salt. I put the tomatoes in the water for a few minutes. This is mostly to get rid of any bugs that are hiding in the crevices, which there are a lot of in one of my favourite tomatoes to grow, black krim.

I rinse the tomatoes off and transfer them to a cutting board, I cut any ‘bad stuff’ off and cut the tomatoes into smaller chunks. I transfer the tomatoes to a large pot and soften the tomatoes for 5-10 minutes. I find that the softening makes it easier to run the through my food mill. However, I know that a lot of people don’t bother with this step, they simply chop the tomatoes and put them through their food mill.

My food mill was given to be by a friend and it is saving me hours of work removing the tomato skin. A food mill does a great job of removing the skin and the majority of the seeds (a few always seem to sneak through). The tomato skin and seed go straight to my compost bin (hmm… maybe that’s why I get volunteer tomato plants all over the garden every year…).

Food mill

A food mill is a handy tool to get rid of the skin and (most of) the seeds.

If you don’t have a food mill to remove the skin with just cut the stem out and cut an X in the bottom of the each tomato (just piercing the skin). Pop them in boiling water for about a minute. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water with a strainer spoon and let them cool down a bit before you remove the skin. Then mash them with a potato masher – go on, get all those frustrations out and put all that energy into making a delicious homemade tomato sauce.

Tip: Instead of throwing the tomato skin away, make some Anna’s Italian Salt with it.

Then I put the tomato sauce on medium heat in a pot with a thick bottom for a couple of hours until it is more saucy and less watery. I make sure to keep an eye on the tomatoes and stir every 30 minutes, so the sauce does not burn to the bottom. I adjust the heat so it is a simmer and not a boil.

When I am happy with the consistency I can the tomato sauce and pat myself on the shoulder for a job well done. There are so many different opinions on the proper ways to can. To stay on the safe side I suggest you use a guide like this from the USDA to can your tomatoes.

Homemade tomato sauce

I let the tomato sauce simmer for a couple of hours until I am happy with the thickness.

Oven roasted tomatoes

Oven roasted tomatoes are simply delicious. I love having some of these on hand in my freezer to add to stews and roasted veggies during the winter. A handful of these little wonders will take you straight back to summer. The roasting of the tomatoes makes them caramelized and sweet. Just thinking about it makes me start drooling.

Oven roasted tomatoes

Oven roasted tomatoes are a great addition to pizzas and stews in the winter. Simply delicious!

Here’s how I make my oven roasted tomatoes.

This is usually where I use my smaller tomatoes, golf ball sized and smaller. I give them a good wash. Everything in my garden is organic and the smaller tomatoes don’t have crevices that bugs can hide in, so I don’t go too crazy with the washing of them.

I cut the tomatoes in half and put them in a bowl. I add some twigs of oregano, thyme and rosemary. And then I usually break up a whole head of garlic and add them all to the bowl. I pour a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over everything and mix everything together.

I put everything out in a single layer on a big cookie sheet with parchment paper (or better, a silicone mat – to reduce waste) and pop everything in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes.

Once they have cooled down a bit I transfer them to glass containers and put them in the freezer. They are delicious on top of pizzas and in soups during the winter. Yum!

What are your favourite ways to preserve your tomatoes? Please share in the comment section below.



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