There’s nothing more rewarding than tasting the first tomato of the season. But all at once, more tomatoes may ripen than you will be able eat. Now is the time to can, freeze or dry extras to enjoy when fresh tomatoes are only a memory.
Pick to Preserve:
- Allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine to achieve a fuller flavor.
- Pick when the entire tomato has even color and is a tiny bit soft when squeezed.
- Harvest heirloom and cherry tomatoes just before they completely turn color.
- Grasp gently and firmly and twist the tomato until it snaps off the vine, or cut the stem close to the fruit.
How to Freeze Tomatoes:
- To remove skins, cut an X through the skin and carefully drop into boiling water for 30 seconds. Plunge into ice water for a few seconds and slide skins off. Cut tomatoes into quarters and fill freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing.
- Don’t care about skins? Then simply stick sliced tomatoes or whole cherry tomatoes in a freezer bag and place in freezer.
How to Can Tomatoes:
- Sanitize jars in boiling water or run through hot dishwasher. Keep jars warm until ready to use to avoid breakage.
- Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds.
- Cool, peel, core and halve or quarter in a strainer placed over a bowl to catch juices. Remove seeds.
- Place 1 teaspoon salt and herbs, such as basil, tarragon and oregano, in each jar.
- Place tomatoes in jars and fill with leftover tomato juice, leaving 1/2” head room. Press down to remove air bubbles.
- Wipe the rim, put on lid and screw on ring until fingertip tight.
- Place jars in boiling water and cover with 1-2” of water. Cover pot and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the lids pop.
- Remove pot from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
- Remove jars and place upright on a towel undisturbed for at least 12 hours.
- Test lids within 24 hours to make sure they don’t pop. If a lid pops, you can immediately reprocess after making sure the jar is full, rim is clean and the seal is tight. Or refrigerate for use within a few days.
How to Dehydrate Tomatoes:
- Slice paste tomatoes, such as Romas, into ¼”-thick rings.
- Arrange pieces on dehydrator trays so they are not touching.
- Sprinkle with salt and herbs, typically basil.
- Dehydrate until moisture is removed, about 3-8 hours. Time varies based on the moisture in the tomatoes, thickness of the slices, the dehydrator itself and the humidity in the air.
- Tomatoes should be flexible when done, not brittle.
- To store, seal in an airtight container or plastic bag in refrigerator.