Surplus Tomato Solutions


Are your tomatoes ripening faster than you can use them? If so, Nan Sterman, garden expert and host of KPBS’ A Growing Passion, has a few tips for making the best of your overabundance.

Freezing is a quick and easy option. Just rinse the fruits, dry them and pack loosely into zip-lock bags. Lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they harden, then remove the cookie sheet and stack the bags the best way they fit into the space. When you are ready to use them, just take out however many you want. Fill a bowl with tap water and immerse the tomatoes one by one to get the skin loose enough to peel. Skip peeling if the peels don’t bother you or if you plan to put the tomatoes through a food processor. 

Make homemade marinara sauce. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or small soup pot. Add one diced onion, five cloves of chopped garlic, a tablespoon (or more) of fresh oregano leaves and one or two fresh bay leaves. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add 12 cups of peeled tomatoes (fresh or thawed) with a pinch of sugar. Simmer on low for two hours. Enjoy fresh, can and store, or portion into containers and freeze to use in winter.

Dehydrating is great, especially if canning seems too overwhelming. Use a dehydrator according to manufacturer’s directions or simply set your oven to 200 degrees (or its lowest setting). Space the oven racks equally so there is plenty of airflow. Slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices and place them in single layers on a baking sheet, taking care not to crowd them. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and with other herbs if desired. Place in the heated oven for six to 12 hours, until they are dry and leathery. Store the dried tomatoes in zip-lock bags and use at your convenience.

Nan Sterman
Plant Soup Inc.

A Growing Passion airs on KPBS and Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 4 p.m., as well as online at For daily updates and news, become a fan at or follow on Twitter @AGrowingPassion.

Categories: Gardening