It's that time of year. Little tomatoes are taking over my kitchen. The garden has produced (as it does every year at this time...) a ridiculous amount of cherry, grape, pear, and currant tomatoes. Even my tomato-loving family can't eat all of the bounty. But we don't let food go to waste, and I know that, come December, I'll be missing tomatoes terribly. Luckily, there are several easy ways to preserve cherry tomatoes from your garden, CSA, or farmers' market.The problem is that, unlike paste or other tomatoes, cherry tomatoes are just too small to put through the whole canning process, which requires peeling and seeding the tomatoes prior to processing. I think if I tried to peel the mountains of cherry tomatoes on my counter right now, I would end up crying. So traditional canning is out.
Ideas for Preserving Small Tomatoes
I am a big fan of drying tomatoes, which can be done in a dehydrator, or (if you don't have a dehydrator) in a very low oven. This has been my go-to method for preserving small tomatoes. Simply cut them in half, place them on a baking sheet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and place in a very low oven (150 degrees F would be ideal, but my oven only goes down to 170) for about 12 to 16 hours. They take on a rather leathery texture when they're dry. You can then freeze your dried tomatoes in a container and use them as you need them in sauces and soups. Or, if you plan on using them within the next few weeks, you can place the dried tomatoes in a jar, then top the whole thing with some olive oil. Store this in the refrigerator. The olive oil may solidify a bit in the refrigerator, but it will liquefy again if you leave the jar on the counter for a few minutes.
So, drying works well, but I'd like a bit more variety. Luckily, I ran across this fabulous post from Marisa over at Food in Jars: Five Ways to Preserve Small Tomatoes. Yes! She covers drying, freezing, making tomato jam (which is delicious!), roasting, and pickling. I can't wait to try pickling tomatoes, as I haven't done that yet and am completely obsessed with both tomatoes and pickles. Thanks to Marisa, not a single little tomato from my garden will go to waste this year!
More About Preserving the Harvest:
Preserving the Harvest: Recipes
In a Pickle: 20 Pickle Recipes to Help You Preserve Summer's Bounty
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