Tuesday’s Tip: Processing Tomatoes for the Non-Canner

September 20,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

I love feeling self-sufficient in the kitchen, of making, creating and serving dishes that are homemade.  I’ve loved having our garden this summer to serve as a creative launching point for new dishes and recipes.  And I’ve loved even more the fact that we grew most of garden from seed as a family.

So it certainly follows that in theory, I love the idea of taking food from our garden and canning it to preserve it for cooking during the winter.  Yes, I had romanticized the idea of canning so two weekends ago I spent a fair amount of time taking each tomato and peeling it by gently cutting an “X” into the skin, popping it into a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds, removing it and placing it in a ice bath for an equal amount of time:

and then peeling it:

I did this for a bit before I came to the harsh reality:  processing tomatoes to can them takes a lot of time and work!  So before I write anything else, if you are a canner, my hats off to you!  You are a kitchen rock star.

Since at this point in my life, with two young boys and all the activity this stage of parenting brings, I just don’t have the time to devote to canning diced tomatoes, I decided to use a short-cut way to preserve tomatoes:  freezing them.

On top of deciding to freeze the tomatoes, rather than can them, was the decision to freeze the tomatoes as “crushed tomatoes” rather than dicing each tomato individually.  My decision to crush the tomatoes rather than dicing them stemmed from two big factors:  first, I used my food processor to crush the tomatoes, skin and all, which took a mere fraction of the time it would take to dice them.  Second, and just as important, both my boys are “food pickers,” and if they see a chunk of tomato, they usually remove it from a dish...but if they are blended into the sauce, they gobble it up.

So here’s my Tuesday’s Tip for all you non-canners out there:  simple place cored tomatoes, skin and all in a food processor:

And hit “on:”

Voila!  Crushed tomatoes for your freezer.  Keep in mind store-bought crushed tomatoes usually have salt added and sometimes some added flavor, like onion and garlic.  So when you use the tomatoes, be sure to season more liberally.  

Life is sweet,