How should I use up all these cracked tomatoes?
September 24, 2017 6:43 PM   Subscribe

I have 20-some tomato plants. I went away on vacation. It was dry and hot. Now it's cooled off and rained heavily. Many ripe tomatoes have cracked. I've harvested lots of cracked and uncracked tomatoes, and I'll give away the uncracked ones. How should I use the ones that have split?

They're all recently split and recently picked (assume both events happened today). Almost none are paste tomatoes, many are cherry or medium-sized, and generally I prefer to retain as much of the fresh flavor of homegrown heirlooms as possible. Salsa's an option, but I'm looking for other recipes to preserve the life on these newly cracked tomatoes for at least few days. I don't can, and I can't eat them all in the next 48 hours on my own.
posted by deludingmyself to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Make Susie Bright's roasted tomato sauce and freeze whatever you can't eat soon.
posted by rtha at 6:50 PM on September 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

If you have access to a dehydrator, dry them.
posted by straw at 6:51 PM on September 24, 2017

You could wash, blanch, and freeze for later and use them for sauce and casseroles. Optionally you could cook them into sauce or juice them. Cherry tomatoes make fine sauce if you blanch them and slip off the skins.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:52 PM on September 24, 2017

Response by poster: Make Susie Bright's roasted tomato sauce and freeze whatever you can't eat soon.

I knew Metafilter would have some good low and slow roasted idea! The oven is preheating for this immediately. But it's still raining, and there are more tomatoes inside & out, so keep the suggestions coming.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:57 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Make pizza sauce and freeze it. Slice them and bake them at low temp in the oven for 'oven-dried' tomatoes. For right-now eating, cube them and toss with some chopped kalamatas, finely sliced scallions, feta cheese and a generous slosh of lemon juice (serve with cauliflower/quinoa patties- yum).
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:00 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Freezing unblanched tomatoes works great in my experience. Thawed, they have the taste of fresh, though obviously they lose any texture and need to be used in soup or stews. The flavor is unbeatable though.
posted by metasarah at 7:09 PM on September 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Tomato butter! It freezes well. I'd recommend food processing or blending the tomatoes, then folding them into softened butter (rather than throwing the butter into the food processor)
posted by staraling at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

For right now: pasta alla checca, which is late summer in a no-cook bowl. Chop up all the very ripe, very flavorful tomatoes you like and put in a huge bowl with olive oil, a crushed garlic clove, and chiffonaded basil. Salt and pepper, torn mozzarella if you like. Let it sit while you cook some pasta in salted water. Toss the hot pasta with the raw tomatoes; eat.

For later - freezing is def the way to go. Blanch if you'd like to remove the skins and retain color; skip if you don't care. Crush them first either way so you can press the bag flat for efficient storage. Perfect for soup, sauce, salsa, etc.
posted by peachfuzz at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

We just chop and roast them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, at around 200 or 250 for a couple of hours, then freeze them. You can freeze them right on the tray, then take them off and put them in pieces in a ziplock bag. Then pour out however much you need later, and do whatever with 'em. (Note: use a silpat or similar, or it will be hell to get 'em off the baking sheets unless you mix them during freezing so they don't freeze right onto the tray. With a silpat, you can use the mat to pull them up off the tray, and then they will break easily into small chunks.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I usually dry/roast the little ones, since they ought to be pierced or slit or halved anyway so they don't asplode in the oven, and I find cracked cherry tomatoes are weirdly sugary for raw eating. You can freeze after concentrating them, if you don't have an immediate use on pizzas etc.

You could also use a few of the mediums to make Pa amb tomàquet, which I just learned about today and need to put into my face ASAP.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:19 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Blanch and freeze.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:19 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

This incredible tomato soup.
Bonus points for making the accompanying baked potato recipe for the best fall lunch ever.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 7:29 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Tomato... butter? Tomato butter. That is something I never would have thought of. Amazing. And if it's like other compound butters, freezable. I'll try it.

Also, I tried slicing and freezing, freezing whole cherries, and blanching and freezing last year, and was underwhelmed by the results because a) most of the texture disappeared into mush when thawed and b) then I still had to come up with a recipe for using the frozen tomatoes, only now I needed a recipe for tomato-mush. How do you guys who haven't mentioned it yet use your frozen tomatoes? It just seems like a tactic for delaying the tomato decision making to me (which was why I froze last year).
posted by deludingmyself at 7:40 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update for those who live for recipefilter: a picture of the situation, and the dish of future sauce that just went in the oven per rtha's suggestion. I even went outside in the cold, rainy dark to grab a few peppers.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:45 PM on September 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

I put frozen tomatoes in mac and cheese, or make sauce with them, or tomato jam, or just throw them in soup. I do can, though, so if I'm freezing them instead it means I'm out of time or ideas and really am just using the freezer as a pause button.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:45 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding blanch and freeze (we coarsely chop, too), and thaw and do whatever you like in January.
posted by notyou at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2017

Oh. I didn’t read your update. Carry on!
posted by notyou at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2017

I cut split cherry tomatoes in half or quarters and marinate in cheap Italian dressing with a little chopped onion and sweet pepper. Seems to keep fine in the fridge for at least a week, delicious over mixed greens.

Longer term, I'm going to try pickling cherry tomatoes with garlic & peppercorns or garlic & rosemary. Using split ones seems ideal as it saves on poking with a skewer so they absorb the brine.
posted by superna at 8:07 PM on September 24, 2017

Response by poster: Further update: I've made some crustless miniquiches for this week's breakfast and to freeze, started slow-roasting a few more of the black cherry tomatoes separately in olive oil with some of last year's frozen basil from the freezer, set aside 2 lbs of cherry and pear tomatoes for the local shelter that serves homeless women and their kids (when asked about produce donations last year they requested "stuff that takes as little preparation as possible"), and checked on that sauce. Looking good; time to get out the stickblender. Tomorrow I'll grab a baguette from the bakery for pa amb tomàquet because it is one of humanity's finest simple dishes and I've yet to actually 'make' it.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:14 PM on September 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

I make oven-dried tomatoes with the cherries. Roll them very lightly in olive oil and add sea salt and a little sugar. Put in the oven set at low overnight. The next morning, you will have sun-dried tomato equivalents which freeze beautifully and add a summer taste to your winter produce months later.

(They're great mixed with eggs, or sauteed with kale, or with mushrooms or just about any other way you can think of to use sun-dried tomatoes).
posted by dancing_angel at 10:20 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I feel like I'm recipe liveblogging (I'll stop after this, honest), but for anyone faced with a similar problem: tomatoes so ripe and saturated they split their skins are, in fact, extremely wet. That made more of a soup than even a watery sauce, but it's a tasty soup so I'm rolling with it. To make a sauce, it'd probably be necessary to spread the tomatoes out on pan or something and go much lower and slower than 3 hours of cook time to really maximize surface area and evaporation.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:39 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm not even hungry except now I'm hungry. Damn.
posted by rtha at 11:13 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could also make jam.
posted by jadepearl at 12:05 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

To self-link egregiously, this is my marinara recipe in comic form. It's pretty good if I do say so myself, and it freezes just fine.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:31 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

You may not know this but canning tomatoes does NOT require a pressure cooker. You just need a big pot like this, the jars and lids, and tongs to pull the jars out. Here are some instructions.

I haven't canned tomatoes in maybe 35 years but I remember it being pretty easy and the tomatoes sure tasted good in the middle of winter.
posted by mareli at 9:01 AM on September 25, 2017

I actually roast over-ripe tomatoes at around 400 degrees with olive oil and a little onions and garlic until they get just past the super-liquid stage and are starting to thicken a bit. Then I let them cool, and run them through a food mill.

Voila! Fresh tomato soup (that also freezes well).
posted by dancing_angel at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2017

« Older Advice for better book club sessions?   |   Stormwater runoff: a failing grade Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.