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Tomato triage for too many tomatoes

Updated on October 10, 2015
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from my mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Bacon. Lettuce, Tomato

Could there be any better sandwich than a BLT? This one's on sourdough.
Could there be any better sandwich than a BLT? This one's on sourdough. | Source

Insadada Caprese

The simplest of salads, Capri salad.
The simplest of salads, Capri salad. | Source

Eat tomatoes in these recipes.

  • To enjoy as many fresh tomatoes as possible consider making gazpacho, a cold tomato based soup. Gazpacho recipes usually include tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, olive oil, and a splash of wine vinegar. This Spanish dish is usually made in summer to showcase vegetables at their best.
  • Another summer favorite that highlights tomato is a Middle Eastern dish, Tabbouleh made of bulgur, tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion and garlic with olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Bruschetta, an Italian antipasto of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, and chopped tomatoes.

Tomato weighed 7-pound 12-ounce

Gordon Graham holds the Guinness World Record for the heaviest tomato. His 'Delicious' tomato weighed 7-pound 12-ounce. Graham's world record still stands from 1986.

More tomato TO-DOs

  • The food dehydrater is always on this time of year. Small tomatoes (like saladette) and cherry tomatoes can just be cut in half and dehydrated. Larger tomatoes should be sliced.
  • If you still have a tomato overload and are short on time, core and freeze whole tomatoes while they are at their peak of ripeness. Later when you have more time and your kitchen is cooler, process the tomatoes or simply add them to a vegetable soup, stew or chili. After cooking for awhile, skins will slip off and can removed with a slotted spoon. The whole tomatoes can be broken up by pressing them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon, a potato masher or by using an imersion blender.
  • Insadada Caprese, the essence of summer. Sliced Tomato and fresh mozzarella with basil and olive oil.
  • Freeze whole cherry tomatoes. Wash, discard any imperfect tomatoes. Dry on dish towels or paper towels. Freeze on a cookie sheet. When frozen, remove from freezer, place in a freezer weight ziplock bag and return frozen bagged cherry tomatoes to freezer. Add to soups, chili and sauces while still frozen.

I make these dishes so often, I do not have a recipe. To get you started, there are recipe links below.

Preserving dehydrated tomatoes

Store dried tomatoes in the freezer.  Olive oil soon takes on that consintrated tomato flavor of dehydrated tomatoes.
Store dried tomatoes in the freezer. Olive oil soon takes on that consintrated tomato flavor of dehydrated tomatoes. | Source

Dehydrated tomatoes

Dry tomatoes

To buy sun dried tomatoes are expensive. Dried tomatoes are a quick and space saving way to preserve your tomato bounty. Drying removes the water and concentrates the sweetness of tomatoes. The final product is a sweet intense tomato flavor.


Cut cherry, grape or small saladette tomatoes in half. Dry cut side up. Slice larger tomatoes just over a 1/4". lightly spray drying trays with oil. Pealing and deseeding is optional. Sprinkle lightly with salt if you like. Omitting salt gives more options when rehydrating and using in recipes

Slowly dehydrate tomatoes making sure you space tomatoes for good air circulation.

If tomatoes are dried at too low a temperature, 90°F or less, the tomatoes are subject to bacteria and mold. Too high a temperature, over 170°F, actually cooks the tomato. At high heat, tomatoes can harden on the outside but remain moist inside causing spoilage.

Oven dry

Set oven temp at 140. Place cookie cooling racks on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray the racks with oil. Slice tomatoes 1/4” thick. May take 20 – 24 hours to dry. Check periodically, removing any tomatoes that are dried.

Are they done?

Properly dried tomatoes are leathery and still pliable. They should not be tacky or sticky to the touch. They should not be crispy. Allow tomatoes to completely cool before storing in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

Rehydrated tomatoes

Dried tomatoes can be added directly into the soup pot and will rehydrate using the soup broth. Use them to give an added layer of flavor to tomato or vegetable soup. Stir into stews or chili.

Pour boiling salted water or stock over dried tomatoes and let them soak for at least an hour. Use any remaining tomato soaking liquid may be used in cooking.

Chop or slice rehydrated tomatoes. Combine tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, herbs and serve over hot pasta.


fresh herbs bring out the tomato flavor in Tahbouleh
fresh herbs bring out the tomato flavor in Tahbouleh | Source

Fresh tomato dishes

Emeril Lagasse's Tabbouleh l recipe can't be beat. I use cherry tomatoes, just cut them in half.

This is very good and the recipe uses fresh herbs from garden. Most recipes call for regular sized tomatoes. Add more more tomatoes when you have plenty. Make a big batch because this dish is excellent the next day. Easy to make. Quick to fix.

Gazpacho by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. She makes a few vegetables into a gourmet feast. Simple. Quick to fix.

No one does bruschetta better than Giada De Laurentiis' Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta

My favorite: Insadada Caprese, the essence of summer. Straight forward and simple. Tomato slices topped with fresh basil leaves and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, olive oil. Salt and pepper if you like.

Tomatoes, egglant, zucchini

Simple French dish introduced to American cooks by Julie Child.
Simple French dish introduced to American cooks by Julie Child. | Source


Ratatouille a garden celebration in a bowl

Ratatouille recipe usually includes eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and fresh herbs. It may be served hot or cold. By cutting the vegetables finely, ratatouille can be used as a filling in crepes, lettuce wraps or garni.

Serve as a vegetarian main dish. Julia Child suggested serving it has an accompaniment for meats. May be served with pasta or on rice.

This is the signature dish of my late summer garden. I make it with more juicy tomatoes so it is like a rich vegetable stew.

Slightly undercook each vegetable, then combine and freeze in serving size portions. During the longest days of winter, you will have a taste of summer.


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