Focus On: Tomato Uses and Recipes

I have so many tomatoes, are they easy to "Put Up"?

Tomatoes are very easy to store for usage up to a year later. As with any food product, safety and sanitation are very important and nearly every University has an Extension Agency that addresses proper techniques for drying, freezing and canning of tomatoes.

When tomatoes are canned (Ball Jars) or dried, they will keep for a year or more. Frozen tomatoes will maintain their taste and quality for 7-8 months. Most gardeners actually make their various sauces including Marinara, chili and soups and can or freeze the sauce for later usage. Some gardeners will freeze or can whole tomatoes, and use the whole tomatoes when needed for recipes. From the garden, homemade salsa can be made with additions of peaches or other fruits and frozen very nicely in plastic containers. Nothing is better than having fresh garden salsa in January.

When you select your home grown tomatoes for "Putting Up", you have selected tomatoes that were in most cases vine ripened and the quality of the fruit flavors is very high. Your favorite tomatoes and vine ripened flavor translates to improved culinary attributes in your recipes, always the flavors of homegrown.

Book - Putting Food By

A few popular tomato recipes:

Yellow Tomato and Peach Salsa


8 medium to large yellow tomatoes (Sweet Tangerine tomato)
2 yellow peppers (Golden Giant pepper)
1 bunch green onions (Evergreen Long White onion)
2 cloves garlic (Extra Select garlic)
3 large yellow peaches
3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sea salt (or to taste)


All of the ingredients need to be chopped very small for best flavor. In every scoop, you want all of the flavors.
Chop the yellow tomato into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Retain all the liquid. Chop the yellow pepper, peach, green onions and garlic into small pieces and place into the bowl. Add the vinegar and salt, and blend very delicately, you don't want the tomatoes to become too liquid.

Flavor is great if freshly made and served, but flavor will increase if salsa is allowed to be refrigerated for 4-6 hours. Drain off liquid before serving.

Serve with corn tortilla chips (scoops). Makes 8 cups.

Tomato Basil Soup


10 medium to large fresh garden tomatoes (Burpee's Big Boy tomato)
2 cups of chicken stock (store bought)
_ cup sweet basil (Summerlong basil)
1 onion (Texas Supersweet onion)
2 stalks of celery (tender inner shoots) (Tall Utah celery)
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 cup very cold water
1 dash of salt, salt to taste
1 dash of pepper


Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30-40 seconds to loosen the skin. Remove from water and allow to drain and cool down for 5 minutes. Remove the skin and tomato core. Chop the tomato meat and place in a bowl.
In a large pot, heat the EVOO, and cook the celery and onions over medium heat until onions are shiny and translucent and celery has softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock to the celery and onions, and begin a slow simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Keep the mixture moving, you can puree the mixture with a whisk or hand blender.
In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with the cold water. Once the mix has few or no lumps and the pot mix has cooked for 8-10 minutes, add the cornstarch mix in small doses. Check the thickness as you add the cornstarch, continue to add slowly until you get the soup consistency you like.
Season with the salt, pepper and basil, the finer you chop the basil, the better for flavor and appearance. You will need to find the proper amount of basil that you enjoy.
Serves 6-8 cups

In September, I'll have unripened tomatoes, what can I do with unripened tomatoes?

There are many techniques for turning green tomatoes red, and without question, the most important factor is temperature. To spread out the turning of green tomatoes red, they should be stored in 5-degree range conditions. Room temperature of 65-70 degrees F will ripen the fastest. To extend the ripening by weeks, store them at 55-60 degrees F. Tomatoes stored at 50 degrees F will take a month to ripen. If you desire to speed up the ripening process, in a brown bag place your tomatoes with a ripening banana. The natural ethylene produced by the banana will ripen tomatoes rather quickly. Lastly, if you have a location in your garage or basement, the entire plant can be uprooted and hung from the ceiling and the fruit will ripen on the vine. When storing tomatoes, all vegetation should be removed including stems, and never allow direct sunlight onto the ripening tomatoes.

Are Sun Dried tomatoes really dried in the sun?

The USDA allows the term "Sun Dried" to be used, even though what is store purchased now in jars more than likely was made from an oven process. Yes, in certain areas of the United States that experience low humidity, tomatoes can be sun dried. It's not an easy process; the tomatoes must be covered to keep insects away, and dried under cheesecloth to allow for proper ventilation. Depending on temperature at night (low), they will need to be brought inside. Fluctuating temperatures of 30 degrees or more is not good for the curing process. The time required for drying is usually 7-14 days.

There are many recipes available for using the oven techniques or a dehydrator, which are less time consuming, and the results nearly the same. Once the tomatoes are dried down, you can add your favorite seasoning herbs such as onions, garlic, shallots and basil with olive oil and then refrigerated.

Burpee harvests acres of tomatoes, what are the employee's favorite uses?

Without question, the number 1 use of our harvested tomatoes is for the summer meal, sliced as a vegetable. We make a lot of salsa, and tomato sauces for pasta and chili. But without question, what everybody gets the most excited about is when our employee cooks make the following with the harvest of green tomatoes.

Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe

6 firm large green tomatoes
2 large eggs with
1 cup of milk
Salt and pepper
Corn meal or breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices. Lightly salt and pepper the slices. In a bowl, whip the eggs and milk. Dredge the slices in the egg/milk solution, and then dip the tomatoes into the meal or breadcrumbs.
In a frying pan, heat the oil, until grease lightly splatters with a drop of water. Slowly add the tomatoes and cook until bottoms are a golden/bronze. Gently turn, second side takes less time. Maintain constant temperature, don't cook too fast.
Remove from oil, and drain on brown paper or a paper towel.
Wonderful complement to seafood and chicken dinners.

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