Updated: Mar 16
One of the things that I miss the most when the garden is gone, is the fresh tomatoes. Store-bought tomatoes just are not even comparable when you’ve had them picked off the plant right from the garden. I have found a few different ways to preserve these through the winter, besides canning them, that I really like.
One is by dehydrating and grinding into a powder and storing. It is really amazing how flavorful it is and no taste is lost in this method. to use just add the amount of water and spices needed to rehydrate and make the product that I am looking for. If it’s a pizza sauce, I would just add water and pizza sauce seasonings, if it was tomato sauce or tomato paste, I would just add the amount of water needed to reach my consistency. If it’s a soup that I want to add a tomato base, I would just add enough of the powder to give me my tomato broth. I don’t typically use this for larger quantities like making a spaghetti sauce, although you could, instead I save the bigger quantities for the actual canned product.
Another way that I really like, is dehydrating the slices and either storing them in oil or just in the jar to be able to replace in your oil or whatever I want to use it in when I am cooking. These are shelf stable and will last through the winter and again none of the taste is lost, if anything the taste is expounded.
The last way I try to preserve my tomatoes into the winter season is to pick them all right before the first frost. I sort through them ranging from green up to ripe and separate them into like colors. I then place them single layered into cardboard boxes with paper bags or newspaper underneath and on top of each box. I then stack the boxes and put them in a cool dark, out-of-the-way corner. You will want to check these boxes frequently and take out any that start to ripen or go bad. If you wanted to ripen some sooner, just pull out a few and put them in the light. Most of the time the ripening is continuous, and you can get tomatoes into November or December. This extends my season a good 2 to 3 months of homegrown ripe tomatoes. Granted, there’s nothing like a vine ripened tomato, but this is second-best and 100 x’s better than a cardboard tomato from the store any day!