When you’re flipping through the seed catalogs, your eye might instantly jump to the images of the boisterous, hefty Beefsteak tomatoes. You know – the tomatoes whose images alone seem to take up half the page!
But the real star of the show is the cherry tomato. Tiny and unassuming, this little fruit is the real star of summer.
If you were lucky enough to haul in a bumper crop from your garden this year, you might be wondering what in the world you could possibly do to preserve all those cherry tomatoes! Luckily, there are some easy methods of preserving cherry tomatoes that can help you make quick work of putting these adorable little gems up for winter.
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Flash Freeze Them
One of the easiest ways to preserve cherry tomatoes is to freeze them, but a pitfall that many people experience is that, once they are thawed, they clump together in messy gobs.
A simple way to avoid that is to freeze them on cookie sheets first. There is virtually no prep work involved – all you need to do is layer the tomatoes on cookie sheets (try not to let them touch, but if you do, you should be able to pull them apart later).
Place the sheets in the freezer. Leave them there for twelve hours or so – or until they are solid. Once they’ve hardened, you can funnel them into quart jars or into other freezer-safe containers. You’ll be able to pull them out one by one when you’re ready to use them!
Dehydrating Cherry Tomatoes
Another easy method of preserving cherry tomatoes is to dehydrate them. To do this, you will need a dehydrator. After washing your tomatoes, slice them in half and place them with the sliced side up in the dehydrator. You can process them for up to 24 hours at 135 degrees.
Make Roasted Tomatoes
Roasted tomatoes have all the best flavors of summer, and a tray of roasted tomatoes is one of the best ways to use up your crop of cherry tomatoes. To do this, all you need to do is add a few handfuls of unpeeled garlic cloves and thyme to a baking tray with your tomatoes. Pop them in the oven for two and a half hours at 225 degrees.
Make Tomato Jam
Tomato jam is a classic homesteading recipe that works well with all kinds of tomatoes but is especially beautiful with cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes tend to have smaller seeds than other varieties, which makes them perfect for making jam.
The classic tomato jam recipe calls for five pounds of tomatoes and three and a half cups of sugar. You’ll also add eight tablespoons of bottled lemon or lime juice, a couple of teaspoons of ginger, and cinnamon, cloves, salt, and red chili flakes, to taste. You will combine all of the ingredients in a stockpot, bringing it to a boil. You will then simmer for up to an hour and a half. Once the jam has cooked down, you can pack it into your jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace. You will process the jars in a water bath canner for twenty minutes.
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
A batch of pickled cherry tomatoes is one of the most unique ways you can use up your bumper crop of these fruits. Once completed, you can either can your pickled tomato in a water bath canner or let them remain in the refrigerator.
It should be noted, however, that pickled cherry tomatoes are often too delicate to be canned and can become very soft when exposed to that kind of heat. However, it can still be done if you don’t mind a softer consistency in your cherry tomatoes!
The recipe includes a brine made out of ½ cup of vinegar of choice (most people use apple cider vinegar along with ½ cup of filtered water, two teaspoons of pickling salt, and two teaspoons of sugar. You can also add spices like coriander, mustard, and red chili flakes to taste. Once you brine has been brought to a boil and allow to simmer, you can pour it over the tomatoes in your jars.
Make a Quick Tomato Sauce
It can be more tedious to make tomato sauce with cherry tomatoes than it is with larger varieties, but rest assured, it can still be done! All you need to do is add four tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet, along with some thinly sliced garlic and your other spices of choice (like basil, salt, and black pepper).
You will need about four cups of cherry tomatoes, too. Add them to the pan once the oil has heated. Smash the tomatoes down as you stir, cooking and smashing until you reach the desired consistency and texture. Keep in mind that a cherry tomato sauce might be a little thinner than what you’re used to, but it will still taste fantastic ver pasta! Plus, it can be frozen or canned for later use, if you’d like.
Let Them Sun Dry
If you live in a location that is naturally dry and sunny, you’re in luck – you can make your own sundried tomatoes! To do this, simply spread the tomatoes out on baking sheets after cutting them in half. Lay the trays out in the sun. They will dry naturally over the course of a few days – that is, if the birds don’t get to them before you do!
Make a Cherry Tomato Confit
Cherry tomato confit tastes great on toast, salads, and even pasta- it’s even a great snack when eaten fresh out of the jar!
To do this, all you need to do is toss some cherry tomatoes, garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, and thyme into a baking dish. Cover the whole mixture with olive oil before baking for 45 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled, you can store it in a glass jar for several weeks before it goes bad.
Whip Up Some Tomato Juice
Making tomato juice is one of the most often overlooked methods of preserving cherry tomatoes. All you need to do is wash your tomatoes before putting them in a stockpot. Cook them until they are thoroughly heated. You don’t need to add liquid – as long as you are on hand to smash the tomatoes down as they begin to break down, they will produce their own liquid.
Bring your tomatoes to a boil, simmer for about five minutes afterward. Put them through a strainer and then return the liquid to the pot, bringing to a boil and repeating the simmering process once more. You can then cool and freeze or can the juice – or drink it up immediately!
Preserving Cherry Tomatoes in Olive Oil
Slow roasted cherry tomatoes preserved in olive oil are the perfect complement to a slice of crusty bread and a thick slab of cheese. Plus, they’re easy to make and use up about a pint of cherry tomatoes per jar – not too shabby.
You’ll just need the tomatoes, of course, along with ¾ cup of olive oil, three sprigs of thyme, six basil leaves, three cloves of garlic, and some salt and pepper to taste.
After roasting the tomatoes, tossed in oil and herbs, in the oven at 225 degrees for about two and a half hours, you’ll cover them completely in olive oil in sealed jars. Store them in the refrigerator for no more than 18 days, ensuring that they remain totally covered by the oil in the jars.
Why Preserving Cherry Tomatoes is a Smart Choice
Cherry tomatoes, like all other types of tomatoes, have tons of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy and energetic. Unlike other types of tomatoes, though, cherry tomatoes are incredibly easy to snack on – you can easily get your servings of produce in without even realizing what you are doing!
With so many methods of preserving cherry tomatoes at your disposal, why wouldn’t you want to give a try?
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.