Too Many Tomatoes! Ideas on Preserving the Tomato Harvest


When I think of summer, one of the first things that comes to mind is the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes, straight from the garden, often gobbled up before I even get back to the kitchen. Much like everyone else, when I first started our vegetable garden, tomatoes were at the top of the list. That first year, I purchased a few plants from a local nursery and it wasn’t long before I was growing all of my own transplants from seed. The number of varieties I grew quickly multiplied. It’s easy to go overboard when starting tomatoes from seed — there are just too many enticing new varieties to try in addition to the tried-and-true favorites that must be included in the tomato bed each year (I wouldn’t be without Brandywine!).

Here in Southern Ontario, the tomato harvest usually begins in late July. Anyone that’s grown tomatoes knows the drill. The harvest starts with a single cherry tomato or perhaps an early salad type, picked off the vine and eaten right there in the garden. I’ll admit, I’m a bit selfish when it comes to that first tomato — thoughts of sharing don’t even enter my mind.

A day or two later, another tomato ripens up…and then the pace quickens. Some years, it seems as if I go from harvesting a small bowlful — just enough for a mixed salad — to a full basket in the blink of an eye. By the middle of August, even a basket isn’t enough and out comes a box. It’s at this point that the focus changes from fresh eating to preserving the harvest.

HG - Basket of Tomatoes 

This year I grew 15 varieties of tomato (25 plants in total). Cherry, salad, paste and slicing — they are all represented. While paste tomatoes are usually top of mind when it comes to preserving the harvest, I use all of the varieties I grow, from cherries all the way up to large slicers.

Three basic methods are used to preserve tomatoes: Canning, freezing and dehydrating. Within these methods, however, there are a multitude of options.

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