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What would YOU do with 40 lbs of hierloom tomatoes?

So. Our CSA lets us order some items by the case. The last 2 years I've gotten a 20-lb box of field tomatoes (seconds) for a song, made a nice batch of sauce, and canned it.

This year I decided that 20 lbs just wasn't enough and I went ahead and ordered two boxes. Today was the pickup and I prepared for massive sauce-making, then went to the depot...and was handed two 20-lbs boxes of mixed heirlooms, instead of field tomatoes for sauce. Apparently, I misread the order form. YIKES.

They sure looked pretty in the box, all those shapes and colors. I've segregated them and there are some small round orange ones; some small round red-and-green striped ones; some small round yellow ones; some small round pale yellow, almost white with a dusky look ones; and some BIG, multi-lobed, red-on-the-bottom-and-green-or-yellow on the top ones.

I need to preserve as much of them as possible - my kids don't like fresh tomatoes (but they eat sauce ahppily) and the hubby can't have raw tomatoes right now. I can only eat so many pounds before these bad boys go bad...Has anyone made tomato sauce w/ yellow or orange tomatoes? Does it freeze well? I have the most of the pale yellow and the big multi-lobed varietites...I cut open of the of multi-lobed ones and it has a thick shell with a lot of space between the shell and the seeds. The seeds are clustered around the central stem and so I don't think it would make a good slicing tomato.

Other ideas for using them up? I've made saurkraut and kimchee before, never tried fermenting tomatoes though, I'm thinking it might not work b/c of the acid.

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  1. They certainly make a lovely gazpacho which leads me to believe they might be more versatile than you might think. The reason I don't make sauce from heirlooms is the cost. But heck, you have already paid for them! If I were you,

    I would take a few pounds, make a sauce and see what you think. Perhaps juicing some if the kids enjoy tomato juice. Either the sauce or juice would freeze well. Tomato juice ice cubes for bloody Mary's. Just a few thoughts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      Fresh pico de gallo will use a bunch of tomatoes and keeps well in the refrigerator.

    2. I understand you can just cut and freeze them on cookie sheets and then bag them. But I would oven roast them with olive oil, maybe with garlic, until they are nice and soft--then freeze them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        I'll second the vote for oven-roasting....almost any tomato is lovely roasted (in winter I drain big cans of plum tomatoes and roast them and they turn out wonderfully). Just cut in half, drain a bit, put them cut-side up on a big pan (with sides), drizzle w/just a bit of olive oil, salt, and just a bit of sugar. Roast at about 225 degrees for at least 2-3 hours (if they are big, it may take much longer). When they seem to be shrinking a bit and getting much darker in color, flip them over (skin side up), sprinkle on some chopped garlic or oregano, and roast another half an hour or so. I put them in jars or ziploc bags in the freezer and use them all winter in pasta, on pizza, on bruschetta...(or out of the jar with a fork). I would think that a variety of colors & shapes might make for a particularly attractive bunch of roasted tomatoes. We don't seem to be having a very good tomato year around here...I envy you.

        1. re: tonifi

          I tried this today, and you were right - the mix of colors is beautiful. I hadn't had good luck with slow-roasting in the past, and had switched to high-temp for my roasted tomato needs, but these came out great. Sprinkled them with a blend of herbs and sea salt that we got as part of our late-season CSA share last fall and have been needing an excuse to use, so that made me happy too.

          I used a mix of the small round maters- orange, yellow, near-white and stripey. Beautiful and so delicious, it's now packed away in the freezer for later this year when DH can finally eat tomatoes again.

        1. That's a lot of tomatoes. Maybe check out how they use their surplus in Bunyol, Spain, in their annual "La Tomatina" tomato fight?....:)

          1. Last year, here's what I did with extra tomatoes from the garden:

            I sliced them, dried them at the lowest temp on my oven for a few hours for a sundried tomato effect, packed them in ziplock bags with EV olive oil to cover, and froze them. Since them I have had no shortage of sweet, tart dried tomatoes or flavored oil to thaw and use as I see fit. One major upside (at least for me) is they don't take up much space this way.

            Of course you could also can them, though that would require a pressure canner.

            1. This is a family recipe. I grew up in NJ farm country in the sixties/seventies before the state got paved over. We always made it alternating very ripe red tomatoes and green ones but I think you could adapt it for your heirlooms. If you're not into making pastry a store-bought pie crust works just fine.

              Apologies - my zero key isn't working.

              9-inch unbaked pie crust
              4 cups sliced red and green tomatoes
              1-1/2 tsp salt
              1/8 tsp black pepper
              1/3 cup mayonnaise
              1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
              1 clove minced garlic

              Brush pie shell lightly with milk. Bake at 45o degrees for five minutes and remove from oven. Cool for a couple minutes.
              Reduce oven to 35o.
              Fill shell with sliced tomatoes alternating colors.
              Combine mayo/ parmesan/garlic and spread over top.
              Bake for about forty minutes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pasuga

                I'm going to add your recipe to my tomato pie file. I was going to suggest trying to freeze some tomato pies, but thought I should read all the replys first. Glad I did; you already said it.

                1. I routinely make sauce with all my garden tomatoes, regardless of variety. I save the best-tasting ones to eat raw, and all the rest get sauced. I use Marcella Hazan's "Tomato Sauce II" recipe, and I do not bother to peel the tomatoes. Then I freeze it and use it all year.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: visciole

                    I do the same. I sauce all tomatoes. I also cut them in half and can them (seeds removed) with garlic and basil for a bruchetta topping.

                  2. They will make excellent, if decadent, sauce.
                    A couple of years ago I was gifted a case of over-ripe heirlooms, they made the best sauce ever. This year I am doing dry-farmed Early Girls for my sauce for the winter, but if I find a good deal on bruised/seconds of heirlooms, that will be some good sauce.
                    Eat what you can fresh, or in gazpacho, put up the rest and enjoy.

                    1. 2 summers ago when my tomato bounty came in all @ once I had a mix of tomatoes, tigerellas, purple prince many others all diferent colors sizes and shapes I canned tomato jam. I don't recall the exact recipe but it was the same as for low sugar fruit jam (no need to worry about pectin or pressure canning since some sugar and tomatoes have acid but I would add a little extra to be safe lemon juice or vinegar) . I added hot peppers and ginger. I suggest googling for specific ratios but it was great and I am hoping enough of my tomatoes ripen at once this year to do again. It was great on meat, crackers with roasted garlic and cheese a nice combination of sweet and savory that also could serve as a hostess gift. I quickly dropped the tomatoes in boiling water to remove the skins before making the jam for a smooth texture but the seeds were not a problem. A second idea is homemade BBQ sauce. Good luck!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: debmykar

                        Someone correct me if I'm wrong about the specifics:

                        To can without pressure, you need a pH of 4.5 or below. Generally speaking, tomatoes aren't acidic enough for this, Adding acid will work if you add enough, but you're best off testing the pH of anything you decide to can without pressure. Safe is better than sorry, especially where botulism is concerned. Botulism is seriously bad news.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Yeah, the official Ball canning Bible says to add 1/4 tsp Citric acid per pint jar, or 1 tbsp Bottled (not fresh) lemon juice, to get to safe acid levels for regular water canning. Double that for quarts.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Well I hope someone would look up an actual recipe for canning as I said I did not remember one off hand but rather was offering ideas and did mention adding sugar and acid but it is something that can be made in a water bath as opposed to a pressure canner. Sorry for the confusion. I didn't imagine a home canner not doing this or a first time canner not looking it up it was meant as a general "hey try tomato jam" and since it is a little off the norm (as opposed to bbq sauce) here is a little info on it to guide your search. Next time I will include disclaimers and warnings ;)

                            1. re: debmykar

                              No worries - I have canned a few pints of tomatoes before :-)

                              Thanks for your suggestions.

                        2. I bought 75 pounds of bulk "seconds" at my farmers market and made 35 or so quarts of marinara. Some with basil, some with pancetta and some plain. Nothing beats opening up one of those puppies in the winter.

                          1. I concur with using them for pasta sauce. They work as well as field maters. One year I made a dinner of spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce that played fast and loose with colors: yellow cherry tomatoes, halved...garlic greens...red onions...red bell peppers. Traditional taste but lots more eye appeal.

                            Slice as thinly as you can and dry in the oven on parchment or silpat-lined sheet pans. Then grind into powder to be used in breadings, dressings, toppings. Ruth Reichl showed how it is done on Diary of a Foodie on PBS.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: greygarious

                              That sounds really pretty...my garlic chives are sending up their blossoms,maybe i'll incorpate some into the sauce. I'm burning through the garlic from my garden pretty fast...

                              You have all convinced me, I will make another batch of roasteds and then sauce the rest of them. I'm feeling like a tomato wuss anyway since a friend in Northern VA told me she's getting 20 lbs every 3 DAYS from her 13 tomato plants...!

                              1. re: gimlis1mum

                                Wow, that's a lot! DH and I have a running bet on whether or not we'll get ANY tomatoes off of the potted tomato plants we buy every year.
                                This year our grand total is 0.

                                1. re: gimlis1mum

                                  I just want to be perfectly clear that the dish I made with the yellow ones was not a long-cooked sauce - just a quick saute only long enough for the onions and peppers to be soft and sweet. Any longer and the individual colors and shapes would have disappeared.

                              2. I would:

                                - oven roast as mentioned already but preserve them in marinating feta cheese and herbs
                                - make pasta sauce as mentioned
                                - make tomato sorbet
                                - make tomato jam - made a big batch last year
                                - make ketchup
                                - make barbecue sauces
                                - make tomato and goat cheese tartlets
                                - make Calabrese salad
                                - make salsa (mentioned)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: chefathome

                                  Chef at home could I get your tomato jam recipe please?

                                  1. re: JEN10

                                    I did tomato jam using the recipe from here last year and it turned out really well. I actually ended roasting the tomatoes first, though.


                                2. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes are awesome.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I like to make frittata's with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.

                                    1. I can't even *imagine* 40# of heirloom tomatoes but what I'd start doing is roasting pans of them. I'd whirl some of the roasted tomatoes into the base of soup and freeze it in ziplocks or vacuum packed bags of a couple cups apiece for finishing through the tomato-less portion of the year.

                                      I'd also pack some in jars of olive oil and put them in the back of the fridge for sandwiches and cooking through the cold months. Pack and water bath some in attractive presentation jars for gifts.

                                      1. Did another batch of slow-roasted, mixed small tomatoes today, now have 9 pints in the freezer. Took the big multi-lobed ones and blanched, peeled and chopped them (with the help of my 5-year-old, I'm so tickled that he wanted to help), them simmered 'em for about three hours, to yield 3 quarts of the best-tasting plain old cooked tomatoes I've ever met.

                                        But since I still don't have a stash of my usual tomato sauce yet...I ordered another 20 lb box for Tuesday :-)

                                        1. Why not make 80 extra large pizzas and top each one with a half pound of tomatoes?

                                          1. I like to melt 'em down http://www.saveur.com/article/Techniq... and freeze them. I'm just finishing up last year's crop and am eager to gather some new batches.

                                            1. you might like this website since there are often recipes for more"exotic" recipes
                                              they had pickle eggplant eggplant yesterday and would probably be a good resource for you.Koreans make kimchi out of all kinds of hings- I have only done the usual suspects, cabbage carrots onions but I am thinking that fermenting tomatoes could be possible...I have a book that does it but it is very wishy washy on the details some oil some salt...please post if you do it

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: debmykar

                                                Well, I tried it. And I learned two things:

                                                (1) keywords do make a difference. A search for 'tomato kimchi" yields almost no hits, whereas "fermented tomato" yields lots, mostly for lacto-fermented salsa recipes.

                                                (2) there is probably a reason that there are no hits on tomato kimchi. It doesn't taste bad, but it doesn't taste exactly right, either. It tastes a lot like, well, salsa.

                                                Here's what I did:

                                                3 ½ lbs mixed tomatoes – small round green striped and red ones
                                                Blanch and peel, coarsely chop
                                                Add salt – 5/8 T per lb of tomatoes. Assume some loss due to cores and seeds,go with 2 T total (instead of 2 1/8 T as calculated for 3 ½ lbs)
                                                Place in earthenware bowl, cover with a plate, let sit overnight

                                                Next day (mid-day), drain toms and taste. Saltiness level is good.

                                                Add the following:
                                                2 scallions, sliced and chopped
                                                ¼ c minced garlic chive blossoms and stems (from my garden)
                                                1 clove of garlic, grated on microplane (a trick I've used for kimchi before)
                                                1 T Korean red pepper powder
                                                Stir well and transfer to glassjar

                                                Add enough liquid to cover the veggies
                                                Cover jar with a square of cheesecloth and a rubber band
                                                Leave at room temp for 3-4 days

                                                I transferred the kimchi to a fresh quart jar and put it in the fridge sooner that normal b/c it started to develop a bloom and I didn't want to deal with removing it everyday. It's been in the fridge for a few days now and I just tasted it again...it really does taste like salsa. I used the korean pepper powder b/c I wanted more of that kimchi flavor, but I'm guessing that the acidity of the tomatoes is masking the subtler flavor of the red pepper? Also, I can't really taste any of the nice remented/sour flavor, though it's possible that it just needed more time at room temp and it's not really fermenting yet.

                                                The recipes I found online for lacto-fermented salsa generally use whey as a fermentation aid, and I didn't add any to the kimchi. So maybe that would have helped with the fermentation.

                                                On the positive side, before I put it in the fridge I did notice that the tomato bits themselves still tasted very fresh - the texture was preserved. Now that it's been in the fridge it tastes like refrigerated salsa.

                                                Anyway, it was fun to try it.

                                                The 3rd box of heirlooms that I ordered had a lot of big, multi-lobed toms that were yellow on the bottom, turning to slightly red and then green on the shoulders. I blanched, peeled, and stewed, and canned them, and have 7 pints of the most beautiful yellow tomato sauce...and just now i sent in another order for one more box of paste tomatoes. So at long last, I will get around to making my usual red sauce. It's gonna be a tasty winter :-)

                                                Oh, and thank you for mentioning Food in Jars, I do like that website!

                                              2. I have made pasta sauce and cooked tomato salsa with all kinds of tomatoes and frozen it to great success. And also roasted tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, and thyme. For sauce, I like Hazan's butter sauce or Patricia Wells' sauce with onions, fennel seed, and orange zest. sometimes I peel, sometimes I strain, sometimes I puree. I just freeze in ziplocs, flat, in one and two cup increments. The salsa I made last year turned out really well, although unfortunately I can't recall what recipe I used! it was a chipotle salsa that was canned with just hot salsa to cause the seal, so I froze them anyway.

                                                This year, Seattle's weather has been very unfriendly for growing tomatoes. Rather than jars of red and green salsa and bags of sauce, we will be likely to more than ten red ones. and there are very few green ones to begin with. it is most disappointing.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: cocktailhour

                                                  I made and canned salsa a couple of years ago, and while it was good, it really did taste a lot like Tostitos and the equivalent store bought varieties. I think the recipe called for a few cans of tomato paste and lots of vinegar, to get the pH in the right range...might work better if I tried to freeze it, then I wouldn't need all that vinegar.

                                                2. Don't let that big yellow one get away.

                                                  Put the pasta water on and start the pasta when it boils.
                                                  Prep of the sauce will take less time than the pasta
                                                  Saute in olive olive oil:
                                                  roughly chopped tomato
                                                  chopped green onions

                                                  1. Wow, that's amazing. I actually love Francis Lam's tomato recipes. (Full disclosure: He's a friend!) But his ratatouille is the best I've ever had: http://www.gourmet.com/food/2007/09/r... and this 5-minute pasta with a crudo tomato sauce is Amazing & you might even be able to get the kids to eat it-- it's even good the next day as a room-temp pasta salad. http://www.gilttaste.com/stories/1063... Then there's the Franks' Sunday Sauce, which is wonderful and would likely freeze well. Good luck! http://www.amazon.com/Frankies-Spunti...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: alexvb

                                                      Wow, that ratatoullie sounds amazing (and was great fun to read...I've had my supper and then some, but now I'm HUNGRY). I did make a few batches of a much-less-glamorous rat with some Ichiban eggplants and garlic from the garden, peppers and zucchini from our CSA.

                                                      And to update on my overall tomato progress: I did finally make a plain 'ol red sauce with the box of paste tomatoes. Canned 7 pints and had a few toms left over, which got roasted, squished and cooked with onions and breakfast sausage from our meat CSA (I know, it's not the right sausage, but it's too spicy for the kids to eat as straight sausage), now frozen for a couple of quick meals later. So that's 80 lbs of tomatoes processed and I still think, do I need more? :-)

                                                      The tomato kimchi still tastes like salsa. So I had some on a quesadilla today for lunch, and it's pretty good with eggs for breakfast. But I didn't have the nerve to ask my Korean friend to taste it!

                                                    2. OM-gosh! I would love to have 40 lbs of heirloom tomatoes right now! :-) Ours are done for the season and the weather and insects have been so weird the late summer tomato plants that we planted didn't do anything. Usually we do salads for a while until nobody wants to look at another raw tomato. The following items are all canned: tomato chunks, tomato chunks w/oregano & other herbs, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, salsa (different varieties), stewed tomato, whole tomato, sometimes tomato jam, green tomato chutney, yellow or orange tomato jam. I did sauce once but didn't have much use for it. I also dry the tomatoes every year and add to soups or any dish that calls for sun dried tomatoes. That's all I can think of for now.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: MRich33392

                                                        Would you share your pizza sauce? Is it similar to pasta sauce but just cooke dlonger to thicken it?

                                                        I put 3 heirlooms in the garden last May (we're in zone 6) and they were all slow to set fruit. But now I have lots of toms hanging on to dying vines and it's almost time to bring them in.

                                                        I had great timing with the heirlooms that I bought: we got them right before the hurricane hit and stopped tomato production for a few weeks. Now I am hoarding all that stuff I made until winter hit and i need a bit of sunshine :-)

                                                      2. Late to the show, but no one mentioned dehydrating them, so I will. Set slices on cooling racks in a sheet pan, and give them several hours in the oven at the lowest temp you can achieve. If need be, you can wedge a wooden spoon into the oven door to cool it down even more. You're shooting for about 150-160 here. Of course, if you already own a dehydrator, that's even better. Dried tomatoes put up very well, and you can store then reconstitute them for a pretty long time.

                                                        1. Set aside enough to enjoy fresh for a few days. Make sauce out of the rest ... or stewed tomatoes ... or tomato juice ... and freeze or can. There's no way to preserve tomatoes for the long term in anything like their fresh condition. Another option is to dry them in the sun or in a very low oven. The advantage of that is it's less work than canning and less of a storage problem than reducing to sauce and finding freezer space for so much. Canning tomatoes is relatively easy because they are high in acid and you don't have as much risk as when canning other veggies. But it's still a lot of work, and you may have to invest in a mess of Mason jars with fresh lids, a canning kettle, etc. Also, canning tomatoes usually means many hours, during warm weather, in a hot, steamy kitchen. Or, since they are more desirable than the average tomato, you could give most of them away to friends while they are still fresh and yummy.

                                                          1. I'm on the run and haven't read through all of the responses (yet) but all I can say is that I was in a similar tomato situation a few years ago, and I used a good portion of them to make a good ol' pasta sauce.
                                                            The heirlooms made an EXCELLENT and distinctive sauce and there's no reason not to use at least some of them for that purpose if you run out of other ideas. I ripened mine in paper bags for a few days to encourage every bit of succulent sweetness out of them, then ran them through the tomato mill to separate the seeds and skins from the juice. I no longer belong to the co-op that supplied these heirloom tomatoes...and frankly it's the main thing that I miss!

                                                            1. me+40lbs of heirloom tomato=happy.

                                                              especially if there is fresh mozz, balsamic, and basil present