Tomatoes are abundant now and inexpensive especially if purchased in quantity. Unlike hot-house tomatoes that the supermarkets carry in the winter, fresh summer tomatoes are full of flavor that you can smell. They’re a good source of vitamins A and C, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Cooked tomatoes actually have more antioxidants than fresh tomatoes, the exact opposite of other antioxidant rich foods which lose their potency when cooked. Researchers believe a person who drinks one glass of tomato juice everyday will live a very long healthy life.
Tomato pulp with milk powder makes a wonderful facial mask that will actually help heal acne and defoliate skin. Idea of Beauty claims vitamin C and potassium found in tomatoes help heal the skin. We know the vitamins and minerals in tomatoes are internally good for our bodies so if you’d rather absorb those nutrients in a pampered facial mask, than eat them, so be it. Certainly anything good to eat will not harm your skin unless you’re allergic to it.
There are dozens of varieties of tomatoes. Beef steak tomatoes are good for salads, sandwiches, salsas, and stuffed with chicken salad, tuna salad, herbed cottage cheese, tabbouleh or couscous.
Roma tomatoes are more fleshy and make excellent Italian sauces, canned whole tomatoes, or dried tomatoes. Even the sauce can be dehydrated for tomato paste.
Cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes on the vine are wonderful roasted and preserved with olive oil for antipasto, meze plates, and everything in between.
There has got to be at least one new dish created everyday that uses tomatoes. Try a few of the recipes given here. Add your own herbs and spices, make them your own. And while tomatoes are at their peak, preserve some for winter.
Homemade V-8 Juice:
- 4 lb tomatoes, washed, cored, and chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, washed and chopped with leaves
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 small red beet, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp of Old Bay Spice (or 2 basil leaves and 1 sprig thyme)
- 1 Tbsp horseradish
- In a stainless steel pan, cook vegetables and seasoning about 20 minutes or until they are tender.
- Puree in a food processor.
- Add sea salt and sugar to taste. Chill.
- Follow the method for Canned Tomato Juice for larger quantities.
Here are a few ways to preserve them:
- Frozen Tomatoes: Wash and core, place in freezer bags whole and freeze. They thaw out in a flash and are excellent in bolognese sauce and stews or soups.
- Canned Tomato Juice: Wash, core, quarter and cook (without added water) over medium heat in a stainless steel pan just until tender and juicy. Run through a food mill or press through a fine mesh sieve (chinoise) to remove skins and seeds. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, salt to taste and 1 Tbsp lemon juice for every quart of juice. Pour tomato juice into hot sterilized jars up to 1/2 inch from the rims, seal and process in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes.
- Canned Whole or Diced Tomatoes: Wash and core tomatoes, slice an X into bottom of each tomato, dip into boiling water for 2 minutes then remove the skins. Pack whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes into quart sized sterilized jars with 1 tsp sea salt (0r taste) and 1/2 tsp citric acid. Pour hot tomato juice into jar up to 1/2 inch from rim of jar, seal, and process in pressure cooker for 35 minutes.
- Dried Tomatoes: Use Roma or cherry tomatoes. Wash and slice in half. Place on trays in an electric dehydrator and dry per manufacturer’s instructions. Or, place on racks over cookie sheets and dry in a 250° F. oven, turning ocassionally, until tomatoes are leathery. Place dried tomatoes in sterile jars and store in a cool, dark pantry. Or, add basil leaves, garlic, salt, and pour in hot olive oil up to 1/2 inch from the rims. Seal immediately and place in a cool, dark pantry for 1 week before using. Refrigerate, after opening, up to 6 weeks.
- Tomato Caper Tapenade: 3/4 cup of dried tomatoes in oil, 1/4 cup drained capers, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves. Process all ingredients until smooth. Spoon into an 8 oz hot-sterilized- jar, top with 1/4 cup hot olive oil, seal immediately. Refrigerate, after opening, up to 6 weeks.