Hello tomato harvest time. If your garden (or farmer's market, or neighbor's garden) is suddenly overwhelming you with fresh tomatoes, don't be intimidated, start filling the pantry.
Here are five ways to take advantage of the bright flavor of this fruit during the coldest days of winter.
1. Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is a no-brainer way to use up tomatoes, and this recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients -- 5 pounds of overripe Romas, garlic, salt, basil, thyme, and olive oil -- and basic technique: Jerry roasted his quartered tomatoes at 175 degrees overnight.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation details the procedure for preserving tomato sauce, but you can also just pop the sauce in the freezer (try putting it in airtight bags on cookie sheets to freeze it in a flat, space-saving shape).
2. Whole or Halved Tomatoes Packed in Water
Not sure you'll want to use those tomatoes as sauce? The National Center for Home Food Preservation can also tell you how to save them as whole or half fruits packed in water (or tomato juice).
You'll start by dipping the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins break open -- which should take less than a minute -- and removing the skins and cores and adding lemon juice and salt to the jarred tomatoes. Then you can either follow the raw pack or hot pack directions, depending on how you plan to use them.
3. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Tricia Callahan of Once a Month Mom offers 30 days of make-ahead meals each month (and the how-to for putting them all together) targeted at parents who don't have time to cook every night. But she also offers plenty of tips and suggestions for people who aren't able to spend a full weekend stocking the freezer -- including this how-to for Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
She recommends pitting cherry tomatoes before drying them in the oven and storing them sumberged in olive oil in the refrigerator so they last "for a long time to come!"
4. Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam
Colleen pointed us toward Food in Jars' roundup of ways to preserve small tomatoes -- think freezing, dehydrating, pickling, and more -- but what really caught our eye was a recipe for yellow tomato and basil jam.
The recipe, built around the sweetness of vibrant Sungold tomatoes, makes 3.5 pints from about four pounds of tomatoes, and the chef suggests dipping into it for everything from perking up cheese to glazing roasted chicken.
5. Country Western Ketchup
Maybe it never occurred to you to make your own ketchup -- but if you're preserving tomatoes, now's the perfect time to try it.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation suggests a recipe for Country Western Ketchup (spiked with cayenne pepper, paprika, allspice, dry mustard, bay leaves, and peppercorns for extra kick) and points novices to the instructions for preserving it using boiling water canning methods. Serve it on organic hamburgers in December for a tasty reminder of your summer barbecues.
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