COOK: A Tomato Preserving Shortcut

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Back-to-school panic season coincides with the height of tomato season in my house. I keep saying I am going to do proper canning, yet the equipment keeps languishing in my basement for reasons of time and intimidation (we do not call it laziness around here and you shouldn’t either).

I do, however, manage to preserve the fantastic paste and plum tomatoes we get from our share at Restoration Farm in Old Bethpage by blanching, pureeing and freezing. It isn’t hard, and this morning my seven-year-old and I managed to do five pounds of tomatoes resulting in two quarts of freezeable puree in under an hour, even as we watched a program on Animal Planet and chatted about Madagascar wildlife while companionably peeling tomatoes.

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One quart will go to our share partners and the other, divided into pints, will go into the freezer, to be used in the midwinter doldrums when we need a taste of summer to get us through the dark days of February. This is the most basic of purees with no seasonings. For 20 (somewhat) fancier ways to use or freeze tomatoes visit this post on my blog, Hot, Cheap & Easy.

And let’s see. If my share partners are game, we might get our tomato share in paste tomatoes next week and actually use all my canning equipment before it rusts. But don’t count on it.

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Raw Pureed Paste Tomatoes for Freezing
1) Get a big pot of water on the boil.
2) Get a bowl of ice water ready.
3) rinse the tomatoes (if you must).
4) drop tomatoes in the boiling water.
5) as they split, pluck them out and plunge (I love the word plunge) into the ice water,
6) when they cool, pull the peels off.
7) chop, dice or run through a mill or processor.
8) use or store or freeze in pint or quart containers.

Natalia de Cuba Romero is ready for back-to-school at Nassau Community College where she is a full-time lecturer in English as a second language.