jars of canned tomatoes

Preserve your Tomato Harvest

Maybe you planned for a large bounty of tomatoes to preserve or maybe you just planted more than you can eat before they go bad. Either way, to prevent wasting your time gardening and wasting your produce, plan to preserve your tomatoes.

Freezing is Simple

When you’ve got too many tomatoes to process at the moment, you can simply put them in a freezer container or bag and put them in the freezer, however that’s not the recommended method of freezing tomatoes. For better quality blanch your tomatoes in boiling water and remove the skins, leave whole or chop then place in freezer containers or bags, remove as much are as possible and freeze. For best quality, cook the peeled tomatoes for 10-20 minutes before freezing.

Canning to Save Freezer Space

Canning will not only save freezer space, it also saves energy. Tomatoes can be canned whole, halved or quartered (crushed), as juice, salsa or tomato sauce. Plain tomatoes with added lemon juice can be canned in a boiling water bath, if other vegetables or meat is added pressure canning is required to prevent botulism food poisoning. A tested salsa recipe has enough added vinegar or lemon juice (acid) to allow for boiling water canning.

Caution: Do not preserve tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines.

Drying is an Option

We’re all familiar with sun-dried tomatoes, but in the Northeast sun drying is not an option. Tomatoes will get moldy before drying due to the humidity level in New York. An oven can be used, but most ovens won’t maintain a low enough temperature to allow for slow drying, so drying is best done in a dehydrator. Tomatoes can be sliced and dried (meaty varieties are best) or pureed then cooked into a thick sauce, spread on a dehydrator sheet and dried.

Recommended Resource

For detailed directions on freezing, canning or drying tomatoes go to The National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.homefoodpreservation.net.

This article from Diane Whitten, CCE Saratoga Extension forwarded to you from, Maryann Birmingham, Master Food Preserver, CCE of Suffolk County. For information on our ongoing canning/preserving workshops or canning questions; please contact: mab422@cornell.edu

Last updated May 29, 2024