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You’ve been waiting for this day all summer long, and now it’s finally here. No, it’s not just the kids going back to school. It’s the tomatoes — they’re finally ripe!
Sure, you can eat grocery-store tomatoes anytime of the year, but they’re just not the same. After all, there’s nothing quite like the taste of tomatoes straight from the garden.
But now the tomatoes — from cherry to beefsteak — are overflowing your counter.
What do you do with all those tomatoes?
If you’re like most of us, you’ve eaten them raw and added them to BLTs and hamburgers. But now it’s time to step things up a notch, and we’ve got 6 simple ways to use those tomatoes.
1. Make A Big Batch Of Salsa
It’s never easy coming up with creative, yet affordable, gifts to give away at Christmas. So start now by making a huge batch of salsa. Can your salsa in jars and give it away to family and friends.
A jar of salsa and a bag of tortilla chips are a perfect gift for a family that likes to watch the big game. You can make the salsa hot, medium or mild.
For those who like their salsa on the sweet side, add some pineapple. Try this recipe from Handmade Frenzy. It makes a great addition to grilled fish, burgers, grilled chicken, and pita chips.
2. Freeze Homemade Marinara Sauce
Making a homemade marinara sauce sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s surprisingly easy to make with fresh tomatoes and a few other ingredients.
To make, chop one pound of tomatoes, one small onion, and two cloves of garlic. Heat three to four tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Next, add the garlic and tomatoes. Add a few tablespoons of water to keep it from sticking, and cook for half an hour. Remove from heat. Then add salt, pepper and fresh basil to taste.
Cool and puree in a blender or food processor, leaving a few chunks of tomatoes. Reheat and serve over pasta. Or put into a plastic bag or freezer container. It makes one large batch and will last for two months in the freezer.
On weeknights when you’re too busy to cook, simply pull it out of your freezer in the morning and let it defrost in your refrigerator.
3. Grill Them Up
Another great way to eat your tomatoes is to put them on the grill. They make a delicious summer appetizer for tomato-lovers.
Use tomatoes that are not as ripe to make sure that they will hold up better. Simply marinate them in olive oil, salt, pepper and sliced, fresh basil.
For an easy bruschetta, dice the grilled tomatoes and put them on top of toasted slices of French bread. Drizzle with olive oil, top with fresh mozzarella, and enjoy!
4. Bake Sun-Dried Tomatoes In A Car
Want to add flavor to your meals? Add sun-dried tomatoes! They’re incredibly easy to make in your car.
Roma tomatoes work best; however, any type will do. Every 5 pounds of fresh tomatoes will yield 2 pounds of sun-dried tomatoes. All you need to do is: Remove the skin and seeds from the tomatoes, cut in half, and put on a cooking sheet.
To dry them in a car, cover the tomatoes with cheesecloth. Put the tomatoes in a hot car in the morning and bring them inside at night. If they’re not done, put them back in the car the next morning. It usually takes 24-48 hours for tomatoes to completely dry in a car, but may take longer.
To dry them in an oven, bake them at 150 degrees (or the lowest setting) for 10-20 hours.
How will you know if the tomatoes are ready? Tomatoes should:
- Be dry.
- Feel like raisins.
- Have a deep red color.
- Feel like leather.
To store, put them in a vacuum-sealed bag. Or can them in a jar and seal the lid. Make sure that you use them within a year.
5. Can Them
Canned tomatoes are an important staple for any long-term food storage; however, most of our canned, store-bought tomatoes have BPA, which many studies now link to cancer.
6. Use Them on Your Skin
Yes, that’s right! Tomatoes make a great cleanser for the skin! And if you have acne or oily skin, using tomatoes on your skin will help your skin become clearer and less prone to acne.
Here are a few ways to use tomatoes on your skin:
- Apply tomato juice to your skin with a cotton ball to control oil and acne.
- Crush half a tomato and mix it with two tablespoons of plain yogurt. Apply to sunburn and wash off after 20 minutes.
- Mix honey and tomato juice. Apply this mixture on your face and wash off after 15 minutes for glowing skin.
If you’ve tried to use up all of your tomatoes and all else fails, give them away! Your neighbors, co-workers, friends and family will boast about how delicious and fresh your tomatoes were straight from your garden.
What is your favorite way to use tomatoes from your garden? Write your response in the comments below: