- Author: Sarah Arana
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Sarah Arana UCCE Master Food Preserver
I planted some tomatoes this year and I have more than my family can eat. What's the best way to preserve some for the winter? Adam M., Paso Robles, CA
Deliciously ripe, juicy summer tomatoes are worth waiting for, but with a few tricks up your sleeve you can save that homegrown tomato flavor to enjoy later in the year. Tomatoes can be quickly and easily frozen in a variety of ways (whole, skinned, diced). They can be stewed, dehydrated and powdered. Canning tomatoes is a popular way of preserving them, classic tomato canning recipes include salsas, condiments, and pasta sauces. Some of these methods require a bit of time, but none require special skills or anything terribly complicated. We encourage everyone to do their research, or better yet, take a workshop with us if you plan on canning them to ensure food safety.
Here are some recommended varieties:
Slicing tomatoes are a good choice for making juice or crushed and whole tomato products. Paste tomatoes are good for making sauce, ketchup, and purees. Yellow tomatoes are not really any lower in acid than red; they contain more sugar and therefore have a sweeter taste. No matter what tomatoes you have access to, there are great ways to preserve them. I like to dehydrate and powder them for easy storing or to make a flavorful "sprinkle seasoning" combining the powder with a variety of herbs for soups and salads.
Recently on a trip to Italy, I took a cooking class and learned how to make a traditional pomodoro sauce using their beloved favorite tomato, the roma! There are so many variations of this recipe depending on the region, but it was fun to learn about how much the tomato has impacted their culinary culture. This style of sauce could be made ahead and frozen for use in the winter when vine ripened tomatoes are not as available.
Make sure you are using research tested recipes and techniques. One way to do that locally is to take a class offered by the UC Master Food Preservers of SLO County. The details for the next class are: Tomato Talk on August 24th, 2019, 10:00 to 12:00 pm. It will be held at the UCCE Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo and there will be a $10.00 class fee. Please register at http://ucanr.edu/tomatotalk Class size is limited, and pre-registration is required.