How to Preserve Fresh Tomatoes without Freezing
A fresh and juicy tomato is a great addition to any meal, whether it is a curry, a sauce topping or an ingredient on a salad. They are an incredibly versatile vegetable that could be used for any type of meal and also widely available. You are guaranteed to find tomatoes in any market all over the world.
In addition to their great color and flavor, tomatoes also have numerous health benefits. They are full of vitamins, minerals as well as antioxidants.
Tomatoes are full of vitamin C, a source of strong antioxidants that protect the body from harmful diseases while boosting the immune system. Vitamin C also helps to battle and counter high blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart.
Moreover, Vitamin C improves iron absorption into the bloodstream. Tomatoes are also a healthy vegetable as they contain minimal calories with no fat content. As numerous studies indicate, each large-sized tomato only contains 41 calories with no fat.
Tomatoes are also full of strong antioxidants called carotenoids that protect the body from certain types of cancers. All this is done while fighting inflammation due to this disease.
If you care about healthy skin, you should consume more tomatoes as they are great for the skin. As studies indicate, tomatoes protect the skin from being damaged by the sun and those who consume more tomatoes have a lesser likelihood of getting sunburns if exposed to UV light.
All these points to the amazing health benefits that tomatoes have. Whether you consume fresh or preserved tomatoes, consuming tomatoes is a great plus for you. However, despite their great flavor and taste, tomatoes are likely to go bad very quickly if not well preserved.
If you have many tomatoes but lack proper refrigeration to preserve them, there are still many other alternatives to store your tomatoes while retaining their flavor and freshness.
Preserving Tomatoes without Freezing
There are various ways to which you can preserve fresh tomatoes without freezing. They include;
Making canned tomatoes.
Canning is a great preservation method, more so if you intend to store them for a long time. It essentially entails treating and keeping the tomatoes jars while making sure the sealed jars remain airtight.
When using this method, it is important to ensure that no air gets into the container as this could spoil the tomatoes.
To preserve tomatoes through the canning method, here are the steps to take:
- Boil some water in a pan
- Meanwhile, wash your tomatoes and use a knife to cut a ‘criss-cross’ on your tomatoes
- Also, prepare and set aside some ice in a separate bowl.
- As soon as the water boils, place the tomatoes into the water while ensuring the water level is above the immersed tomatoes.
- Remove the tomatoes from the water after a minute and transfer them immediately into the bowl of ice to hasten their cooling process.
- Re-boil the water again, this time placing the empty jars therein to sterilize them.
- Remove the jars from the boiling water and clean them dry while adding some lemon juice into each jar and subsequently staffing the peeled tomatoes into each jar.
- Place the lids on the jars and lower them into boiling water, this time to ensure they remain sealed and airtight.
- After 45 minutes, remove the jars from the water, wipe them with a dry cloth and store them in a cool dry place until they are ready to be used.
While the process may take a considerable amount of time and hassle, no special skills are required to do it. It is also a cost-effective method of storing tomatoes.
Oven-Drying your tomatoes
If you have many tomatoes than you can immediately consume, you can consider drying them in the oven to extend their shelf-life. This method also intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes, especially when roasted at low temperatures for a long time.
Here are some of the steps in making oven-dried tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Meanwhile, wash and slice the tomatoes in half while placing them on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Bake these sliced tomatoes in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes and subsequently lowering the temperature to 300 degrees and continue to bake for an hour.
- Check to see if the tomatoes are well dried, remove this from the oven and let it cool.
- Thereafter, store the dried tomatoes in an airtight container, and store them in a cool and dry place until they are ready for use.
- Alternatively, you can drench the oven-dried tomatoes in some olive oil as this would extend their shelf-life.
This method works best if you let the tomatoes have proper circulation of hot air from the oven. You can also consider oven-drying the tomatoes for an extra few hours if you prefer a tougher texture.
Sun-drying your tomatoes
Making sun drying tomatoes is one of the most cost-effective, easy, simple and chemical-free ways of preserving your tomatoes. This method uses solar energy which is free and available to preserve tomatoes while ensuring their freshness and flavor.
In order to make the best sun-dried tomatoes, here are some of the steps to take:
- Wash your tomatoes with some clean water and subsequently dry them with a clean cloth.
- Cut each tomato into half slices while ensuring the inner side faces while spreading them on a clean tray.
- Sprinkle these cut tomatoes with some salt. The aim of sprinkling with salt is to hasten the drying process.
- At this point, you can also cover the tomatoes with a net to protect them from birds, insects, and other parasites
- Subsequently, place the tray full of tomatoes in direct sunlight and let it stay outside the whole day. Continue repeating this procedure for at least seven days.
- However, once a day you can keep checking and turning the tomatoes to ensure they remain faster and evenly dried.
- After seven days, if the tomatoes do not appear wrinkled, let them stay out in the sun for a longer period of time.
- Properly sun-dried tomatoes will appear wrinkled and well-dried. It is important to note that there should be no moisture when this happens.
- Afterward, you can stack these into a clean and dry jar and if you would like even longer shelf life, consider drenching them in some olive oil before storing in jars.
- Ensure the jar remains sealed and airtight.
While the sun-drying process is considerably slower than other methods, it is a sure way of having perfectly dried, flavorful and visually appealing tomatoes.
It is also important to note that for this method to work, humidity levels should be considerably lower.
Making ketchup at home is a great way to preserve tomatoes while also saving on the costs of purchasing the same from the store. It is more complicated compared to freezing, but it is also quite simple and can be done by anybody.
In order to make your own ketchup at home, here are some of the steps to follow:
- Firstly, boil your tomatoes in hot boiling water for a minute or two. Ensure the tomatoes are completely immersed into the water as this would ease the peeling process.
- Remove the boiled tomatoes and immediately place them in a bowl full of ice to facilitate a faster cooling process and ensures peels come off much easier.
- After removing the skins, deseed the peeled tomatoes while squeezing the tomatoes to remove excess moisture from them.
- The remaining liquid can be used to prepare soup, curry or even prepare tomato juice.
- On the other hand, you can add your preferred seasoning to the retained ketchup to give it more flavor and color. If you do not have any seasoning, salt can work just as well.
- Place the ketchup in a pan, and also add your preferred veggies and herbs like onions, rosemary, thyme or basil. Bring this to a boil in a pan until the excess liquid boils off.
- Thereafter, let it cool and preserve your ketchup in a sealable and air-tight container.
The secret of making ketchup with a longer shelf-life is to ensure that all excess water and liquid is drained off the ketchup.
Once you open the jar after storage, use it as soon as possible to prevent it from going bad.
Make your own tomato paste.
Tomato paste is an essential component in every kitchen and is the easiest to make. For this, simply peel your tomatoes while de-seeding them. Chop the tomatoes and cook them over medium to high heat while adding some salt and other preferred ingredients into the mixture.
Continue cooking these tomatoes until you get a smooth, consistent and runny paste. If your paste has too much liquid, continue cooking it until excess liquid comes off. Once this happens, let the paste cool and place it into airtight containers while sealing for later use.
You can still achieve a longer shelf life, and freshness of your tomatoes even without a refrigerator.
Follow the methods above and enjoy flavorful, tasty and fresh tomatoes today!