Our tomato plants go crazy every summer! Summer tomatoes are one of our most favorite foods, so we work hard to enjoy them fresh in the summer, as well as preserving them for the rest of the year. Check out this list of recipes and ideas, as well as a free printable freezer inventory chart to keep track of all the food you’re filling your freezer with right now!
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For the past few summers, when mid-July hits, my life (and our kitchen) quickly gets taken over with tomatoes. We grow more tomatoes in our garden than anything else, both because summer tomatoes are so dang delicious, and also because they’re so versatile and we can use them for so many recipes all year long.
Even though we are growing our own bounty of tomatoes, this list isn’t only for gardeners or homesteaders. You don’t have to grow your own tomatoes to appreciate their incredible summer flavors! Moreover, you don’t have to grow your own tomatoes to put them in when they’re at their peak to enjoy the rest of the year. Before we gardened, I would buy a box (or two or three) of “seconds” from the market and can/freeze/preserve summer tomatoes. You can go all in like I do, or just pick a few recipes to try. It’s up to you!
I put together a list of recipes and ideas to enjoy tomatoes NOW, recipes and ideas to put up tomatoes for LATER, as well as suggested tools and a handful of tips from an experienced tomato processor. If you like this list, be sure to also check out this list of over fifty recipes and resources for summer produce! Keep going all the way to the end of this post to get a free printable freezer inventory to keep track of your freezer’s contents too.
If you are interested in even more summer produce content, whether its tips or recipe or simply solidarity in the fullness of this season, you can follow along on Instagram! I share on IG daily, and have a highlight (saved stories and links that are curated and extra easy to reference) dedicated just to summer produce.
20+ Recipes & Ideas for Fresh Summer Tomatoes
- Lots of fresh salsa. We have been using this recipe for a decade and it’s still one of my favorite ways to enjoy our abundance of cherry tomatoes.
- Pico de Gallo. We are making this basically every time we have enchiladas or tacos right now.
- Simple Summer Pasta Salad. This is such a quick and easy lunch idea, plus it gets better the next day.
- Fettuccine with Sausage & Blistered Tomatoes. One of our favorite pasta dishes, and so very easy.
- BLTs with homemade sourdough sandwich bread. Or tomatoes on any other kind of sandwich too, whether it’s a deli sandwich or a cheeseburger slider.
- Margherita pizzas on the Blackstone. I recently made a reel about this on Instagram!
- Fresh Bruschetta. This is amazing simply on it’s own, or with fresh mozzarella and fresh bread. We also recently tossed leftover bruschetta with salted butter pasta and it was amazing.
- Garden Fresh Pasta Primavera. This is another pasta recipe that is made delicious simply from using flavorful, in-season vegetables. It’s so good!
- Slicing with kosher salt. Need I say more?
- Cherry tomatoes in Greek salad and/or grilled kabobs. Highly recommend trying these fresh summer recipes!
PRESERVING FOR LATER
- Marinara Sauce. I’m using the recipe from my cookbook, but I have a similar stovetop version on the blog too. I don’t peel or remove the seeds from my tomatoes first. Skipping this step really makes the process easier and no one is complaining, plus, my immersion blender collects most of the peels when I blend it. I like to freeze it in 2-cup portions in my Souper Cubes.
- Canning diced tomatoes. This post walks through canning diced tomatoes step-by-step, and also includes general canning tips. Diced tomatoes are one of the easiest foods to can and a great place to start with canning!
- Slow roasted grape tomatoes. These are so flavorful and perfect for adding to pasta, omelets, toast, whatever during the winter. I like to freeze them in my half-cup Souper Cubes trays.
- Canning salsa. It’s hard to beat fresh pasta, but we really enjoyed the Canned Salsa with Lime Juice from Roots and Boots last year, and I plan to make more this year.
- Enchilada Sauce. I’m freezing this in one-cup portions in Souper Cubes to use with this recipe that we LOVE.
- Oven Roasted Pizza Sauce. I’m canning a recipe from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, but Ally also has a great oven-roasted version she freezes in muffin cups–GENIUS.
- Tomato Soup. Our favorite Instant Pot Tomato Soup freezes really well, but last year I tried canning tomato soup and loved it. I will be canning several quarts again this year.
- Canning ketchup. Last year was my first year canning ketchup. It was so good, I plan to can several half-pints again this year. (I used the recipe from Naturally Sweet Food In Jars).
- Tomato Jam. This version uses a lot of sugar (just fyi, not judging). I used the honey-sweetened version in her cookbook, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars.
- Green Tomato Salsa Verde. (with water bath canning instructions)
- Freeze whole or quartered in bags. This “method” is great for saving tomatoes to can or use later on, especially if you have a surplus but no time to process it right now. It’s also great for making sauces/adding to soups.
- Freeze chili. Either freezing in gallon-sized freezer bags for full meals, or freeze in Souper Cubes for individual portions. Our two go-to chili recipes: Instant Pot Hearty Chili & Instant Pot Maple Pumpkin Chili
- Freeze jambalaya. Jambalaya is a meal I’ve included in my freezer plans before because it freezes well.
Favorite “Tomato” Tools
- Victorinox Paring Knives. I love this set all year long, but I really appreciate the different small knives, especially the serrated ones, when I’m processing so many tomatoes.
- Water Bath Canning Pot. So many tomato recipes can be “put up” with a water bath canner.
- Souper Cubes. GET THESE AMAZING TRAYS. If you like to freeze leftovers, sauces, soups, stock, beans, or almost anything else, Souper Cubes are one of the handiest tools you can invest in. I love how versatile they are, and I love the size options so it’s easy to put up food in different portions and know exactly how much you’re taking out. You can save 10% with my code THISPILGRIMLIFE10.
- Cotton Linen Apron. Working with tomatoes is messy. I love this style of apron that doesn’t require tying, has pockets, and looks classic too.
- Naturally Sweet Food in Jars. I think it is pretty clear from how much I referenced this book just in this post, but I have tried and liked so many recipes from this cookbook. It’s a great resource to have if you’re interested in canning!
Freezer Inventory Chart
Once you start working to put up summer fruits and vegetables, it can be difficult to keep track of all that you have frozen or processed! Just a couple of weeks ago, I realized that it was time to pull out my Freezer Inventory printable again so I could make note of how many bags of squash, zucchini, greens, peaches, strawberries, and more I’ve been filling the freezer with.
We have two freezers– an upright freezer in our basement, and the freezer in our kitchen. In order to keep track of both freezers’ contents, I printed two copies of this Freezer Inventory and laminated it so I could fill out one side for the basement and one side for the kitchen.
Tap the picture below or this link to print your own copy of the Freezer Inventory Chart.
I’d love to see if you use any of these recipes or this freezer inventory chart, so be sure to tag me (@thispilgrimlife) when you share or send me a pic or message!
Happy preserving, friends!
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Sandra C Wegmann says
So happy to find this site! With the recession we are in and the price of food and shortages on some things, we have enlarged our garden this year at my daughter’s home to stock up our pantries and freezers for winter! I live alone and am 81 and my grandmother always said that if we have a patch of ground, we will never starve if we learn to garden and preserve the bounty! I taught my daughter and daughter-in-law both how to do it and as we are all avid gardeners and foodies, it is great fun! Thanks for the freezer inventory sheet — I printed out some for the girls and they look better than the scribbles I usually have taped up there!!
Have been busy this week with zucchini breads, eggplant pasta sauce, dicing up peppers, etc. for freezer. Tomatoes should be coming in a week or two and look forward to making sauces, juicing, freezing, etc.