Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Tomatoes


A list of ways to use, preserve and enjoy all the tomatoes from your garden.

By: Felicia LaLomia

It’s that time of year when your garden is in full swing. Everyday when you go out to pick, it seems as if there are new zucchini, squash and eggplant that have popped up overnight.

Yet, the beautiful tomato is perhaps the garden produce that springs up the most, and here are the best ways to use them up. 

Sunday Sauce (for the next 30 Sundays)

Sauce, gravy, liquid gold. Whatever you call it, in the depths of the December chills, you’ll be grateful you took the time to make a huge pot of it. The recipe is easy. Cook like all good Italians, by taste, and start by blanching and peeling the skins of the tomatoes. Add it to simmering garlic and onions and season well. Blend or crush the tomatoes, and finish with a bunch of basil. Cook until reduced to your liking. Click here for instructions on canning.

@nonnapiaaSauce day with Nonna Pia! 🍅 👵 ##nonnapia ##homemade ##tomato ##sauce ##fyp##foryou ##italiano♬ original sound – nonnapiaa

This nonna knew what she was doing!

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Obviously, most of us don’t have access to the powerful Italian sun to actually get sun dried tomatoes. But we do have the next best thing…an oven. Cut tomatoes into quarters, remove the core and place on a baking sheet. Bake on your oven’s lowest temperature (less than 200 degrees) for four to six hours, checking every hour, until all of the moisture has been cooked off. Keep covered in good quality olive oil in the fridge and serve on salads, pasta or just on its own with flaky salt.

Tomato Conserva or Tomato Paste

If you’re short on storage space, this is the most economical way to use up all your tomatoes while still getting all their benefits. First, chop all your tomatoes and remove the stems. No need to be exact here. Then, cook them over the stove until they come to a boil. This helps to break the tomatoes down a bit. Turn the cooked mixture into a pulp by pushing it through a sieve or a food mill. This removes the skins and large seeds. Then, follow one of the cooking methods below, making sure to stir frequently so no part burns. Transfer the mixture into jars and store in the fridge or process the jars for a longer keep. For a more in-depth look at the entire process, click here.

Courtesy of the Spruce Eats.

Stuffed Tomatoes

If you want to take advantage of your tomatoes now, stuff them! Cut off the tops and remove the seeds. Fill with a mixture of cooked ground meat, spices, tomato paste, garlic, onions and whatever else you want. Top with mozzarella cheese and the tomato top and cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Tomato Salad

If you want no heat at all, go classically simple with a salad. Mix with herbs, mozzarella, ricotta, pickled onions — the options are endless. Here are two recipes we recommend. This watermelon salad with tons of tomatoes and bacon is perfect for the final days of August, and this cucumber and tomato salad is a classic, plus it will use up your garden cucs too!

Fresh Tomato Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Olive Oil, Goat Cheese and White Balsamic Vinegar

Share your favorite recipe, and we may feature it on our website.

Join the conversation, and share recipes, travel tips and stories.