If you planted tomatoes this spring, you are reaping the fruits of your labor right now with an abundance of fresh-from-the vine goodies. Quite frankly, no store bought variety can compare to one grown in your own garden (in my opinion)–there is a certain sweet flavor that comes with vine ripening. This time of year I’m serving fresh tomatoes in sandwiches, as a Caprese salad, snacking on cherry tomatoes and making the best Marinara sauce using fresh tomatoes. If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of tomatoes right now, don’t let them go to waste–freezing the overflow of tomatoes and using them through the winter months is simple! Follow these easy steps and come January you’ll be enjoying recipes using tomatoes with that garden fresh flavor:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and have a large bowl of ice water ready.
- Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for 30-45 seconds and then dump them into a strainer. Immediately place the drained tomatoes into the ice water for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the ice water and peel the skins off with a paring knife.
- Slice each tomato into quarters and remove the stem and any tough part around the stem along with any bruised areas.
- Gently squeeze each quarter so that the seeds come out. Use a spoon to scoop out any remaining seeds.
- As you work on each quarter, place the remaining quarters into a strainer to allow the juice to come out.
- Place all the seeded quarters on a cookie sheet and put into the freezer until the quarters are frozen (about 2-3 hours).
- Once tomatoes are frozen, place in zip lock bags and make sure you remove all the extra air before closing.
- Write the date on the bag. Tomatoes should be used within 8-9 months of freezing.
Using frozen tomatoes is really simple, take them out of your freezer and let them defrost in the sink for a couple of hours or you can let them defrost overnight in the refrigerator. I use them in soups, stews, chilis or as a traditional Marinara sauce. Below is a super easy Marinara sauce you can throw together on a busy weeknight. Enjoy!
4 fresh tomatoes, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt (to taste)
Over medium heat add olive oil, onions, garlic and basil. Cook, while stirring, until onions turn translucent and soft. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once the sauce starts to bubble, reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta topped with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese.