For tomato lovers and avid gardeners, too many tomatoes isn't a complaint, it's a luxury.
And as summer's heat brings tomatoes to perfect ripeness, it's time to freeze this moment of flavor for enjoyment later in the year.
You can use any color and any shape of tomato to make these culinary basics: pasta sauce, soup, salsa, or vegetable broth.
All freeze beautifully and stand well on their own. But they can also easily be varied with a few extra ingredients to keep menus lively.
One pound of tomatoes equals:
- Two whole 3-inch tomatoes
- Three 2 1/2-inch tomatoes
- Four or five 2-inch tomatoes
- About 2 1/2 cups chopped
- About 3 cups quartered
- About 2 cups puréed
How to peel. Immerse tomatoes, a single layer at a time, in boiling water for 10 to 45 seconds (riper tomatoes take the least time; they're ready when skin begins to curl back when nicked with knife tip). Lift out, let cool briefly, then pull off and discard skin.
How long to cook. The amount of moisture in tomatoes differs with variety. To get the consistency you want in cooked tomato mixtures, such as sauces, you may need to simmer the mixture for a little more - or less - time than the recipe suggests.
How to can safely. For canning tomatoes in a hot water bath, the USDA recommends adding bottled lemon juice or a citric acid (found with canning supplies at supermarkets; also sold at pharmacies). To each quart of firm-ripe tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid. To each pint, add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Then process tomatoes as canning instructions direct. - Elaine Johnson