Monday, October 3, 2011

Real Ways to Use Tomato Products

Everyone in our household loves tomatoes. Well, our one-year-old hasn't officially tried them yet, but I'm sure he will love them, too! :-) Unfortunately, grocery store tomatoes during the winter are so far removed from the fresh garden ones we enjoy in the summer that we don't even buy them.

TomatoesHere are some ways we get our "tomato fix" during the colder months:

Preserve our garden tomatoes. Last year, that meant to can them. This year, it meant to cut the tops off, pop them in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer. Whenever I have a recipe calling for canned tomatoes, I take about 5 small Romas out and place them in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. The skins pop right off, they're thawed enough to dice without "smooshing" (very technical term, I know), and the finished product tastes the same.

Home canned crushed tomatoesMake our own tomato sauces. It seems silly to buy a jar of preservative-laden pizza sauce for $1 or more when I can buy a can of tomato sauce and add some basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I love the way Nancy at Real Food Allergy Free does 5 jars of spaghetti sauce in 5 minutes for around $3.

Use tomato juice. I have a quick and easy recipe for tomato soup that simply thickens tomato juice with butter and  flour and a few other ingredients. I also use it as a base for a meatball dish I make.

Buy fresh salsa. When I can't make it fresh in my blender from our garden tomatoes, this is one of my monthly "splurges". I buy the large (I think 48 oz.) container of fresh tomato salsa at my warehouse club. If I were to break it down by can, it's probably actually cheaper, but we eat it twice as fast as regular cooked, jarred salsa; so there really isn't any savings to it! I use it in soups, taco salad and other Mexican dishes and as a dip for tortilla chips.

How do you eat tomatoes during the colder months?

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