Last Updated on September 21, 2023
Tomato season is upon us! If you’re looking for new and fun ways to preserve tomatoes, you’ve come to the right place! This round-up post features 13 different ways to preserve tomatoes, including recipes for canning, freezing, dehydrating, sauce, salsa, soup and more. I did my best to include options for varying difficulty levels and schedules – including some quick and easy ways to preserve tomatoes, along with other tomato recipes that required a little more time or energy.
If you need any tips on growing tomatoes, feel free to explore our organic tomato grow guide here. And even if you’re not growing your own, I highly recommend picking some up at the local farmer’s market to preserve while they’re still in season!
1) Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce (freeze or can)
This is my absolute favorite way to preserve tomatoes. Our “Simple and Delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce” recipe is aptly named: the only ingredients are tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of oil, and doesn’t require peeling, de-seeding, or measurements! It really can’t get more simple. Find the easy recipe here, including instructions for freezing or canning.
But despite the short ingredient list, the sauce is far from short in flavor. Roasting tomatoes brings out their rich, sweet flavor, and introduces savory caramelized notes. It truly is delicious! We use it as pizza or pasta sauce, in curry or chili, added to soup and more. This sauce is a perfect way to use cherry tomatoes too, which usually aren’t the best for canning or other preserves.
2) Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Learn how to dehydrate or “sun dry” tomatoes here. We prefer to dry them in a food dehydrator, though instructions to oven-dry tomatoes are also included. We also like to toss ours with fresh garden herbs but you can keep them plain and simple too! Unfortunately the sun isn’t hot or strong enough here for us to truly “sun dry” tomatoes without mold or storage issues, but they’re very tasty all the same!
One of the major perks about dehydrating tomatoes is how little space they take up once they’re dry. A big bowl of tomatoes can be condensed down into a single jar – and their flavor condenses too! We use them to dress up sourdough bread, pasta dishes, quiche, and even homemade veggie broth sometimes. The shelf-life of dehydrated tomatoes varies depending on how thick you cut them and how long you dry them. We’ve had dried tomatoes last well over a year, especially if they’re stored in a cool dark place.
3) Canning Whole or Halved Tomatoes
Canning tomatoes is a classic way to preserve your bounty. Truth be told, tomatoes are one of the few veggies I enjoy canned (they’re technically a fruit… but you know what I mean). Canned tomatoes are shelf-stable, versatile, and ready to use in a variety of ways.
If you’re new to canning, don’t be intimidated! Follow this straightforward guide from the National Center for Food Preservation to learn how to can whole or halved tomatoes packed in their own juices – my personal favorite. Or, this guide will show you how to can whole tomatoes in water instead. Hot tip: keep the skins to make tomato powder! (See number 7 below.)
4) Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (to freeze)
Sauce aside, this is our other go-to way to preserve tomatoes. I mean, who doesn’t love a big bowl of thick, soul-warming tomato soup on a chilly day!? It’s the ultimate comfort food, especially paired with a toasty slice of homemade sourdough bread, focaccia, or grilled cheese… Yum!
Like our sauce, our creamy tomato basil soup recipe calls for roasting the tomatoes (it makes it so flavorful!) and is also vegan. We make large batches at a time and then freeze portions in these durable BPA-free quart containers. I’m always SO grateful to have soup in the freezer for a quick and satisfying meal later. Also like our tomato sauce, you can use cherry tomatoes in this soup too.
5) Homemade Ketchup (can or freeze)
Take your tomato canning adventures a step further with this homemade ketchup recipe. We really need to try this one ourselves since we do enjoy ketchup on occasion – especially with veggie burgers, potatoes or eggs! Technically, this is a way to “pickle” tomatoes since there is a good amount of vinegar involved. Note that in addition to traditional canning supplies, a good food mill is highly recommended to make homemade ketchup nice and smooth.
6) Frozen Whole Tomatoes
Freezing whole tomatoes is a great way to preserve them when you’re busy or not in the mood for other more involved methods. Follow these instructions to learn how to best freeze whole tomatoes, along with tips on how to defrost and use them. I know a ton of gardeners that freeze their tomatoes whole during the summertime, then use the colder, quieter months of late fall or winter to process them into sauce, soup, or other delicious goodies.
7) Tomato Powder (dehydrated, shelf-stable)
If you’re ever following a recipe that directs you to remove the skins from your tomatoes, be sure to set them aside to save! You can reduce waste and turn the skins into tomato powder. Tomato powder is simply dried tomatoes that have been ground into a fine seasoning powder. It can be incorporated into spice blends or dry rubs, or used to flavor rice, soup, stew or other dishes. In addition to using skins, you can dehydrate whole fresh tomatoes to make powder too! See instructions here.
8) Canned Salsa
Chips and homemade salsa anyone? Count me in! There are a ton of canned salsa recipes out there, but check out this popular salsa recipe from Mel’s Kitchen. I haven’t tried it myself (yet) but it looks and sounds fantastic, and is highly-rated – with over 2000 reviews! You can enjoy the salsa fresh, can it, or freeze it.
9) Lacto-Fermented Salsa (refrigerate or root cellar)
Fermenting salsa is another alternative way to preserve tomatoes. Pop over to this well-rated recipe from Farmhouse on Boone to try! Rather than vinegar, the age-old process of lacto-fermentation uses salt to encourage beneficial bacteria (namely lactobacillus) to grow and lower the pH of the salsa, thereby preserving it and preventing harmful bacterial growth. We’re huge fans of fermented foods here at Homestead and Chill! You can browse our other ferment recipes here.
You don’t want to can fermented salsa though… or any fermented food for that matter. The heat involved in canning would kill all the gut-healthy microbes – and that’s one of the best things about fermented foods! Instead, fermented salsa will need to be stored in the refrigerator, so unless you have a root cellar or a spare refrigerator, this option would be best for smaller batches.
10) Tomato Jam (can or freeze)
Feeling like something a little more unique and sweet? Try this recipe for tomato jam from Practical Self Reliance! Yes, you read that right… tomato jam. It’s not necessarily the kind of jam you’d want to put on toast with breakfast, but can be used like a more rustic, textured, complex-flavored version of ketchup. Ashley says it’s amazing with burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, or even like chutney with cheese and crackers. Her tomato jam recipe includes optional spice additions like ginger, red pepper, cinnamon, and cumin for an added flair.
11) Pickled Green Tomatoes (can or refrigerate)
How about a way to preserve green tomatoes? Garden Betty has put together four variations of her favorite pickled green tomatoes recipe here – including traditional, garlic dill, curried, and extra spicy.
Some folks love green tomatoes in general, but these recipes will be especially handy at the end of the gardening season if frost hits before your tomatoes finish ripening – leaving you with a bounty of green ones! She includes instructions for canning, or how to follow a quick refrigerator pickle method for extra crunchy pickled green tomatoes.
12) Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes offer a similar flavor to whole or halved canned tomatoes, but are ideal as a quick addition to future soup, sauce or stew since they’re already crushed in advance. Follow these trustworthy instructions from the folks at Ball Canning to learn more. A good potato masher will come in handy for this one!
13) Tomato Paste (can or freeze)
Canning tomato paste is another great way to preserve tomatoes. Or, you could freeze it! Tomato paste is similar to tomato sauce, but it gets cooked down to become even more concentrated – in both flavor and volume. That means it offers more rich tomato flavor per spoonful, and takes up less space in your pantry too.
Roma tomatoes or other “paste varieties” are the best to make tomato paste. Their thick meaty flesh, low moisture content, and low seed count makes them ideal for the job. You’ll need to remove skins and seeds to make tomato paste, which can be done by hand or with the assistance of a handy food mill. Get instructions here.
See, there are numerous ways to preserve tomatoes!
Well folks, I hope this gave you ample ideas to preserve your tomatoes – and savor the flavor of summer for many months to come. Truth be told, there are seemingly endless tomato recipes and methods out there! I could have kept this list going, but decided to call it good at lucky number 13. Let us know if you try any of the ideas in the comments below, or if I missed any of your favorite tomato preservation tips. If you found this information to be useful, please consider spreading the love by sharing or pinning this post. Happy preserving!
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