Every year, I give a good bit of produce away to neighbors and friends, and always lots to family. They each have their favorites, whether it's cherry tomatoes, peppers, herbs or cucumbers. But this year, I gave away about twenty-five baby tomato plants to my husband's family. So, what I'm finding is that they're not as eager to receive my generous tomato deliveries as they've been in the past.
One of my commenters last week had a terrific idea about what to do with extra tomatoes. She suggested calling a local food pantry or soup kitchen to offer produce to them. What a terrific idea! As a matter of fact, that is a perfect option for any "bonanza" produce that happens to be coming out of your garden right now.
You can also try calling your child's school. Our school won a health grant last year to provide fresh fruits and vegetables as classroom snacks. So, each child walked in on the first day of school and found a shiny red apple on his or her desk. Offering excess tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, or carrots to your child's teacher as part of a healthy eating lesson is a great idea.
If you want to preserve some of your tomatoes for use during the winter months, though, freezing is an easy option. It's what I do, and it's not difficult. I prefer to freeze them whole, so that I can decide how to use them later on.
To freeze whole tomatoes, start by washing them. Boil a large pot of water and drop 8-10 tomatoes (I use Roma tomatoes) into the boiling water for 2 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and lay them on paper towels to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to gently remove the skin. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag and place in the freezer. They will keep for up to 1 year.
I use mine in soups and stews, and for large, bubbling pots of chili in the wintertime. As promised, here are a few more recipes -- this time, they're recipes you can use for your frozen produce. Enjoy them!
Julia's Chicken Cacciatore
Joe's Gold Medal Chili
NanaJane's Minestrone Soup
- Midwest Mom