If you planted a summer garden, you might have an overabundance of tomatoes covering your kitchen counters. Who knew having too many delicious tomatoes could be a thing!? Other than sharing your love of fresh tomatoes with friends (always a crowd-pleaser), making a homemade marinara sauce is a great way to put a lot of tomatoes to good use at once. Better yet, you can even use extra-ripe tomatoes in this recipe, so you’re not throwing anything out.
Top Health Benefits of Tomatoes
There’s a lot of debate over whether tomatoes fall in the fruit or vegetable category. And while each side has its points, we’ll leave that debate for another day. But what we can tell you is that tomatoes are part of the nightshade family and are packed with nutrients. They are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Fresh tomatoes are also low in carbs and are a good source of fiber – all positive checkmarks for this fresh-from-the-garden dish.
Studies show that those who eat tomatoes and tomato-based products have realized the following health benefits:
- Improved skin health – including helping prevent sunburns
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Lowered risk of some cancers including breast, prostate, lung, and stomach cancers
Many of these health benefits come from tomatoes being high in Lycopene (a red pigment and antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color) and beta-carotene. The highest concentrations of lycopene are typically found in the skin of tomatoes, which is why if you’re looking to up your nutrient game you’ll want to leave the skins on.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- High-speed blender or food processor
- Sharp knife
- Large baking sheet
- Large saucepan
- Fresh tomatoes!!!
How to Store Tomatoes for Winter
Don’t have time for canning? You can also store fresh tomatoes for the winter by freezing them to use in sauces, soups, and salsa. The nice part about freezing your tomatoes is that you don’t have to get any special equipment, and they will retain their flavor for 12 to 18 months! Here’s what you need to do:
- Blanch tomatoes and remove the skin. Drop in boiling water for 60-90 seconds, then using a slotted spoon transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool. The skin should easily remove from the flesh of the tomato.
- Remove the stems and cores of the tomatoes. Make sure you work over a dish so you don’t lose those valuable juices.
- Transfer to storage bags (pint and quart size work best for “thaw and dump”).
- Seal bags making sure you push out as much air as possible.
- Lay flat in your freezer to freeze (this simply helps with storage space, you can move it around once it is frozen).