It’s that time of year when our tomato plants are finishing up and the tomatoes are super cheap in the stores. I pulled all my plants out and cooked up the ones I grew. I also bought 16 kgs of old tomatoes (that were almost passed their best and only good for cooking up) for $10. I spent a few hours preparing and cooking tomatoes for later use.
Why would you want to cook your own?
Cooking up fresh tomatoes rather then just opening a can is really like two different creatures. The caned ones are fine and always taste the same but fresh ones you cook yourself a sweet and fresh tasting even if they have been frozen. Of course then there is the BPA lined tins to deal with. Plus the extra salt and additives often added to store bought tins;. Though not all of them I read the labels carefully and just buy the ones that only have tomatoes in them. Crazy right! But really there is nothing like grabbing a jar of tomatoes from the freezer that you slaved over a hot stove and cook a super yummy meal from scratch!
Just a note tomatoes can be dangerous and so you can’t just bottle them up and put them on the shelf, well you can if you’re brave and super sterile but I’m not, so I bottle mine and freeze them to be super safe so no bacteria can grow and harm us. Here’s how I did it so you can too.
Look at all those beautiful tomatoes. The top are ones I bought and the pretty ones at the bottom are from my garden. Boil the jug and fill the sink with your tomatoes then pour boiling water over them till they are submerged.
Let them soak for a minute or so then take them out one at a time (be really careful not to burn yourself!). Get a knife and cut a cross in the tomato if they have been in the water long enough the skin will peel off really easily. If the skin resists coming off put the tomato back in the water then try again later.
Since the tomatoes are all nice and squishy from being in the hot water I just squash them between my fists to speed up the break down process.
If you don’t care about skins on your tomatoes you can skip all these steps and just go to the next one.
I gently simmer the tomatoes for several hours until all the tomato juice has evaporated. Or you can speed this process up by labeling off a lot of the juice and putting this in bottles and freezing for later. You could drink this juice or use it as a base for soups/ stews.
Keep cooking (gently simmering or turn up if you cant wait anymore) until the tomatoes are gently camerised. Make sure you stir from time to time to stop the tomatoes burning. You can cook them till they have some juice left but are mostly dry which is fantastic for pasta sauce or being used in lentil type dishes like chachouka. Or you can cook the tomatoes are cooked dry which is amazing for a pizza sauce or a more caramelised taste which I love.
Once I’m happy with how cooked the tomatoes are I put them in clean jars and let them cool. Then I pop them in the freezer. Check out my blog post on how I freeze glass jars safely. If I’m running out of time and can’t wait to cook the tomatoes further I just freeze them earlier and cook them longer when I use them in a meal.
Then when making dinner simply pop a jar in the microwave and defrost then simply use just as you would use a tin of tomatoes. If you really don’t have enough time simply pop the tomatoes in the freezer to use at a later date. Enjoy.
Do you preserve tomatoes or any other food? How do you like to do this?
Linked to Natural Living Monday,