Freezing, canning or drying – these seem to be the three main ways of preserving your tomatoes for those long cold winter months.
Which one is best though?
Well, they all have their place in our kitchen and work best in different situations, so why not try all of them and decide which one suits your cooking style best?
Freezing tomatoes is most likely the easiest and least time-consuming way of preserving them for later. So how to properly freeze tomatoes?
- Carefully wash them in cold water.
- Let them air dry, ideally by spreading them on a large sheet of kitchen paper or a clean tea towel… you can help them dry quicker by gently patting them all over with some extra kitchen roll.
- Finally, spread them out on a large baking sheet and simply pop them into your freezer but make sure they are not touching each other.
- After 12 hours or so, move your tomatoes from the baking sheet and pop into a freezer bag or an airtight container, label and put back to the freezer, ready for depths of winter! Simple.
When you think about tomatoes in jars, the possibilities become endless, various flavours, sauces, ketchups and concentrates, but today we want to focus on the simplest ways of preserving them in jars.
- Wash, peel and roughly chop your tomatoes.
- Place them into earlier prepared (cleaned and sterilized) glass jars, filling up to the neck (you need to leave some space, at least 1cm at the top of the jar) and slightly squashing them down in order to get rid of any “dead space” and air bubbles. Secure the lid tightly.
- Put a kitchen cloth at the bottom of the largest cooking pot you have so the glass jars will not touch saucepan directly, then place the jars into the saucepan and fill with cold water up to ¾ of the height of the jars. Bring it all slowly to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Whilst the jars are cooking find a couple of large bath towels or small blankets and fold one up and place on a shelf or worktop that is safe from knocks or curious kids. It needs to make room for all the jars to sit comfortably on it.
- When the time is up, remove the jars from the boiling water with some oven gloves, turn upside down, and place on your folded towel. Cover completely with the second thick towel or blanket making sure there are no gaps you want them all snug in there. Allow to rest in this position until completely cool (it might take 24-36h).
The drying process can be achieved by air drying, oven drying, dehydrating and my favourite sun drying! There is nothing better than the taste of sun dried tomatoes during the winter! So how do you sun dry tomatoes?
- Wash and dry tomatoes.
- Cut them into your desired size. I personally prefer drying cherry tomatoes and I just cut them in half.
- Place them on a metal baking tray, skin side down, then cover with some cheesecloth, muslin or some sort of fly net… if needed you might want to construct some risers so the cloth doesn’t rest on your fruit directly.
- Place in the full sun and watch them shrink!
Here, in temperatures around 30C, my tomatoes are ready within 3 days.
I hope you enjoyed this short guide to dealing with tomatoes. After drowning in cucumbers for a while, now we have an abundance of tomatoes and aubergines so more recipes and ideas will follow shortly, I am sure!