I have ‘good problems’, my garden has gone better than expected and I’m now getting huge harvests of the above. We can’t possible eat them all fresh, and much of it is difficult to give away due to cosmetic blemishes.
I’m dicing/freezing the peppers, which is going well.
Big table tomatoes, mostly Momotaro, was thinking of blender then freezer, and try cooking tomato paste in the winter when I feel like turning the stove on. I tried that last year with cherry tomatoes, and it was a disaster, though. Lol
Busy now, so easier the better.
I have cut out the stem and then frozen the tomatoes whole in large plastic bag or tub. Use them within about six months or so, although we have kept them longer. Just throw a frozen one into the pot of stew when you don’t want overwhelming tomato flavor. The peelings will tend to form a roll that you can easily fish out if you don’t want them in the stew. Peppers I remove the stems and seeds and then quarter the peppers to be able to stack them in a ziplock. Throw the ziplocks in the freezer. Take out a piece or two and semi-thaw just enough to chop them before adding them to cooked dishes. I don’t bother to blanch them before freezing, and they seem to keep fine.
For peppers, we like to roast them before freezing. For both the sweet (regular) types as well as the hot ones. It’s relatively easy to do on a BBQ grill, just wash first and roast whole, turning once or twice as the skins start to blister and brown. If you let them cool in a sealed bowl/bag it will make peeling them much easier.
They can be frozen as they come off the grill (after cooling), or you can seed and skin them before freezing.
I imagine you could save freezer space by blitzing them with a hand mixer first.
I made a pretty good, if watery, sauce from the tomatoes and herbs we’re growing by cooking for an hour. Id prefer paste for pizza, and freeze it. But getting the water out without cooking 12 hours or whatever is impossible. I did learn a neat trick to get some water out ahead of time, by cubing tomatoes and leaving them in the strainer in the fridge overnight . I’ll look into if it’s possible to grow Roma tomatoes here for next year.
I feel terrible useing all these gorgeous tomatoes for sauce. Especially given how super expensive any fresh tomatoes are from maybe October-may. Wish there was another non-expensive preserve option. Canning, dehydrating, etc. Will cost much more given local equipment and energy costs than just buying canned tomatoes when we need them which are reasonable here.
I think I’ll make more sauce, cook for longer, and freeze in pet bottles or zip locks. Kinda 1/2 pizza paste/sauce. I can’t think of anything else to do with all these tomatoes than let them rot. And that’s what will happen to the cherry tomatoes, as they’re no good for sauce, and we can’t eat anymore.
Ha! I’ve got a fridge full of homemade salsa fresca and tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove as we speak. I don’t eat green peppers myself, I grow them so that I can harvest at peak ripeness (like everything else). If you let them ripen to whatever color they are supposed to be, usually red, you’ll be amazed at how good they are. The sweetness and depth of flavor really comes through. Same goes for hot peppers. My family really likes ripe grilled sweet peppers.They can be frozen and enjoyed later if you’re being overrun.
We have even frozen cherry tomatoes. If you just simply have too many, take them to a food pantry or do like us and just set them in the church lobby. They will all disappear.
I already have given away nice looking stuff, but have hit done ‘no more, thx’ type attitudes. I’m always on the lookout for more places to donate.
This site has some nice ideas:
One of the challenges that I’ve tried to embrace with gardening is to become better at planning. Learning to grow enough without growing too much is a skill worth refining. Growing too little simply equates to a trip to the farmers market, while growing too much can cause a fair amount of extra effort/work.
You’re right though --sometimes give-aways come off as dumping produce and are not always received with joy equal to the giving. I’ve cut way back on it to be honest. The compost pile is always appreciative.
I usually take extra juice from tomatoes by cutting them in cubes. Then I put them in salad spinner and spin them several times until I am satisfied with juice content. I usually have so much juice that I can it alone. Or even better I use it to pickle cucumbers and the whole tomatoes. Just substitute water with juice and adjust acidity.
How do they taste when defrosted?
I’ve been freezing sauce but ran out of freezer room. Just made ketchup.
One idea that’s promising is sun dried tomatoes. I made a small batch and it was really yummy. It wasn’t totally dry though, so I stored them in of in the fridge. I’ve got a large window screen full drying right now in a better position. I’m guessing they may be totally dry after two days. I’m wondering if I could speed up the process by covering with plastic or something? Perhaps the higher temp would also kill more bacteria and make other foods possible? A couple of slices had a black splotch after drying, so I threw them out.
I’m going to buy a ladder today to move the frame to the bkack rooftop outback. It’s private and looks really hot.
The sun dried option is best. You can also water bath can salsa so it’s inexpensive and a great way to use all your tomatoes and peppers. We even use cherry tomatoes in salsa and drying. They give us a pretty bad backache picking them in season. Donate them to local mission or church to feed the hungry would be another good choice. They won’t mind them being pre chopped or blemished.
You can freeze peppers whole. Just wash and bag. The bell peppers are good for stuffing. Just prep them from the freezer before they thaw completely. Wife uses the frozen peppers all winter for cooking. She also freezes salsa which tastes really good in the middle of winter when the store tomatoes aren’t worth eating.
The tomatoes turned out great. The pretty dry ones I put in a bag in the fridge. I’ll try to find desiccant.
The wetter ones I put in olive oil in the fridge.
The dried ones are awesome as the size is small for storage, and prep used sun energy only. Lots of work, but I hope they last.
Wonder if covering with clear plastic would be ok? Would protect from dew/cloudbursts - maybe greenhouse cook the food faster?
Any type of solid covering will need to be up away from the things you are trying to dry. You need to have air circulation around the food.
Update: best batch yet. I had problems previously with black spots or almost all going black. Internet search was unclear, but apparently safe to eat, although flavor changes and it looks unappetizing. maybe something about low acidity or low temperature and enzymes.
This batch was best flavor and appearance. Whatever I did it worked.
So I added a plastic cover to create s greenhouse effect, but still lots of air circulation. This also protects from cloudbursts, dew, etc. I drenched half in lemon juice, quarter in red wine, and quarter plain. All with a bit of sea salt. I cut them thicker this time too, at least 1/2".
No black at all, after 2 1/2 days dry like fruit leather.
The lemon ones I think taste fabulous.
Also tried bell peppers. I don’t like them but wife does.
Pumpkin squash turns out nice in chips, but everyone was ambivalent about flavor, so won’t bother making more.
Oddly, cherry tomatoes taste soso and not as good as full sized.
I’m still uncertain how to preserve them. They are all nicely dry like leather, or dry crispy. Right now I sealed them in ziplock with a desiccant pack, and put in fridge. Is this sufficient? I’m hoping to avoid putting them all in olive oil.
vacuum seal and freeze them, add a little bit of oil to each batch.