It happens every year.
The first of the tomatoes ripen and I'm in my glory.
We have tomatoes with nearly every meal. My daughter eats them for snacks. I delight in their beauty and delicious taste. We grow Heirloom varieties and their flavors are incredible.
But then... THEY JUST KEEP COMING. Before I know it, every surface in the kitchen is covered in tomatoes. We're drowning in tomatoes!
I need to turn that huge pile of tomatoes into something FAST, before they go bad.
This season, I've been so busy that I just can't seem to find the time for canning tomatoes. So instead, I decided I would make frozen tomato paste this year.
Last summer, I made a few batches of tomato paste and quickly used them all up over the winter. I found myself using the paste for all sorts of meals, such as:
- Homemade pizza
- Frittata (baked egg dish)
- Anything that needs a little more flavor!
I love this method because it's easy and it uses up massive amounts of tomatoes. It's also a good way to use up blemished tomatoes that might not make the cut for canning or slicing.
- Tomatoes (of course!), any kind (including cherry tomatoes)
- Olive Oil
- Herbs and spices (optional - I used Italian seasoning, but you can add whatever you like, fresh or dry)
- Garlic cloves (optional)
- Pan or dish for roasting
- A Food Mill- I use an old fashioned hand cranked Foley food mill I found at a garage sale. Ask around - a friend might have one you can borrow. The food mill removes the seeds and skin for you.
- Ice Cube Trays
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil into the dish/pan. Roughly cut up your tomatoes right into the dish/pan.
2. Drizzle the tomatoes with a bit more olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs/spices and throw in a few garlic cloves. Top with some salt. Don't be shy.
3. Roast tomatoes until they start to darken on the top. You can stir them occasionally. Try not to drool as the smell of roasted tomatoes and garlic fills your whole house. I could even smell it from 100 yards outside the house!
4. Remove roasted tomatoes from oven and allow to cool a bit. Prepare your food mill. Mine sets right over top another pot.
5. Carefully pour the tomatoes into the food mill. Turn the crank until you are only left with the skins, seeds and garlic cloves.
6. Now you have tomato sauce! If you want, you could stop right here and freeze the sauce, and use it for soup, stew or pasta sauce later this winter.
However, I prefer the convenience of tomato paste cubes, so I cook down the sauce until it's thick and concentrated. The thicker it gets, the more often you will need to stir the pot, so be sure to keep a close eye on it.
7. When the sauce/paste reaches a consistency that you like (mine is not nearly as thick as store bought tomato paste), it's time to transfer it to ice cube trays. You can measure it out if you like (Ex. each cube is 1 tbsp) or just glop it in like I do.
Pop the tray in the freezer and when the cubes are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer container/bag of your choice.
There you have it! You have successfully turned a huge pile of tomatoes into a small container that will fit in your freezer.
Enjoy the taste of summer each time you add one of these flavor-packed cubes to your meals this winter. Happy gardening!