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Preserving Tomatoes WITHOUT Canning

Preserving Tomatoes - LivingHomegrown.com

It’s that time of year when I find myself with too many tomatoes and very little time.

If you grow your own tomatoes or buy them from your local farmer’s market, chances are you also find yourself with more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at.

Perhaps all your tomatoes ripened at once…

Or your local farmer had a bargain deal you couldn’t refuse…

It happens.

Either way…you suddenly have WAY too many tomatoes on your hands!

And you certainly don’t want all that deliciousness to go to waste.

And yes, you could can up all those tomatoes with a few tasty canning recipes.

But sometimes…you may want to do something that is FAST and EASY.

I know I do!

When I don’t feel like making canned tomatoes, I turn to some of my other preservation methods to save those tomato flavors for later.

Below, I have listed how I process those tomatoes as either juice or stewed tomatoes WITHOUT canning them.

Both involve ultimately freezing the tomatoes.

During these late summer months, I keep space in my freezer specifically for this purpose.

It just keeps me sane and I hope it helps you too!

Steam Juicing:

I use my steam juicer to juice everything from grapes to plums to…well, tomatoes! And I love it!

A steam juicer is easy to use and very efficient.

You add the produce to the top and let the steam do all the work. You don’t even have to peel the produce.

All you have to do is keep your eye on it while it steams. Easy!

After juicing, I pour the tomato juice into clean canning jars (leaving a 1 inch head space for expansion) and freeze it.

Later, you can defrost that tomato juice for amazing soup (seriously, it makes the BEST soup), stew or any recipe calling for tomato juice.

I like to freeze mine in pint-sized jars so that I can use it in small amounts. But you can freeze it in any size jar.

No need to break out the canner when you do it THIS way!

However, there is a downside. The steaming process does some water to the finished juice.

In other words, the juice is not as concentrated as it would be if you actually squeezed the tomatoes. The finished juice still works for soup and stew – it’s just not as strongly flavored as the original tomato.

If you need more concentrated flavor, there is an easy fix. When you defrost the frozen juice, simply cook it down a bit before using. When you cook it, you boil off most of the water and you are left with more concentrated flavor. The add the reduced tomato juice to your soups, stews, etc.

If you are unfamiliar with steam juicers, here are two links will get you started. (Same info, just two different formats)

 

How to Freeze Tomatoes - LivingHomegrown.com

Freezing:

This is a very fast and easy way to preserve tomatoes as “stewed tomatoes”.

Why do I say “stewed”?

Because when tomatoes freeze and then defrost, they are broken down and softened – just like a stewed tomato. But they still have ALL of their fresh picked flavor.

And when you freeze them in this way, you do NOT have to peel them!

That’s right. You can just pull the peels out later when you defrost.

That makes this another efficient and time-saving processing technique.

To learn more, check out How to Freeze Tomatoes (the easy way).

Tell me…

Do you have any tricks for saving tomatoes for later (besides canning them)?

Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.

11 Comments:

  • Gina says:

    When I have extra tomatoes, I like to dehydrate them. Just slice them into rounds and put them in the dehydrator overnight and their done! Then I slip them into freezer bags and freeze them. They last a long time in the freezer and are great for soups, stews, etc. They save a lot of freezer room that way too!

  • Lisa R says:

    I’m with you! In fact, earlier this week, I submitted a post with the “I’m OK with Freezing” sentiment. Although I do want to make sure there are some canned tomatoes in our pantry, I also end up freezing a good bit. We’ve fallen in love with roasting our tomatoes. During these hot months, if I’m tempted to turn the oven on, I make sure that we’re filling it up! I usually end up roasting weekly. This week actually, I had a rack full of tomatoes/peppers/onion, a rack full of butternut squash and then squeezed in our supper – Tilapia and roasted asparagus. It’s a huge time saver! The details are in the website link.

  • Sara says:

    I slow roast them with garlic and olive oil and then freeze (if I don’t eat them all straight from the pan). It heats up the kitchen (2 hours of oven time), but so worth it.

  • Tori Kelly says:

    Hi Theresa,
    Thank you for sharing, I always look forward to, learn from and am inspired by your posts. I was enchanted with your tour of your farmhouse and orchards, it touched my soul. As I am in the summertime throes of canning in my small kitchen, I was wondering about your canning kitchen and how you have organized it for maximum efficiency? Also, I was wondering if you ever received my response to your question about the french Pectin Jaune some weeks ago? I made my own pectin this year with a specially picked box of the smallest, greenest apples I’ve ever used. It works better than others I’ve made but I am still on a learning curve… : > ) With much appreciation, wishing you the best. Tori

  • elizabeth says:

    Last summer I gave up on canning and froze quite a few tomatoes. I chopped them fairly small, spread them out on a plastic cutting board and froze them. I did the same with the unbelievably abundant anaheim peppers (unbelievable because I live in the PNW and peppers rarely mature in large numbers). I put the frozen tomatoes and frozen peppers in zip bags and we had nearly fresh pico de gallo in winter. Yum!

  • Donna Chesak says:

    Besides making stewed tomatoes I usually make spaghetti sauce with all my
    extra tomatoes and also tomato juice. Making spaghetti sauce is very time consuming when doing it but is oh so nice to have throughout the year when you need a quick meal. I make it with green peppers and onion from my garden plus celery.

  • Lanny Biehler says:

    Interestingly, I recently saw a TV show where a chef was making fried pies with re-hydrated apples. I’ve been drying tomatoes for years but never thought about making a pie from the dried fruit. They are good as snacks whenever you need a boost.

    I enjoy your blog.

    Lanny

  • JessB says:

    Hi!
    I attempted to use a pressure canner today. I couldn’t ever get the weight to jiggle like the manual said it should. Bottom line, I’m worried that it didn’t process correctly even after a couple of hours trying. Should I water bath the tomatoes to make sure they are safe?
    Thanks,
    Jessica

  • Nancy says:

    I boil my tomatoes to make them easy to squeeze. then I squeeze out my juice with my juicer that you turn with your hand. Last I re- boil my juice, have your jars washed and ready, boil your caps and place on the jar with hot juice. It seals. No canner used. Everyone I know, friends and family does this and it works.

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