It’s tomato season! And, I don’t know about you, but my garden’s been working overtime this season. Talk about too much of a good thing!
Yes, come late-August and September, many gardeners end up with a dozen or two heirloom tomatoes ripening on their kitchen counter, with dozens more cherry, San Marzano, Brandywine, Yellow Pear, and countless other tomato varieties ripening on the vine.
You hate to waste these beauties, but you can’t help wondering…
“What the heck am I gonna do with all these tomatoes?”
Too many tomatoes. Not a bad problem to have, actually. But it can be daunting to find ideas on how to use them all.
Here are 28 ways to use all those extra tomatoes from your garden
While they’re at their peak freshness, no less!
1. Eat them whole
Really! Vine ripened tomatoes are delicious all on their own. You can take a big bite out of one like an apple, or do what my mom always does: slice the tomato into thick slices and sprinkle with salt. Yum!
2. Fresh salsa
I love Mexican food. When it’s served with fresh salsa I really can’t resist. There’s something about the fresh ingredients in uncooked salsa that makes it such a treat for the summer. Here are a few recipes to try:
Peach and Tomato Salsa
Fresh Summer Salsa with Cucumber
3. Cooked salsa
Though fresh salsa is my favorite, it’s only available in the summer, and I like salsa all year round. Canning your own salsa is a great way to have quality salsa through the winter. Check out these recipes:
Canning Homemade Salsa
Home Canned Salsa
4. Too many tomatoes? Use them as a skin cleanser
Did you know you could clean your face with a tomato? YES, it’s true! (Check out this line of tomato facial products :)) The acids in tomato juice are great for softening and cleaning skin, while the lycopene helps eliminate free radicals.
For oily skin: mix equal parts fresh tomato juice and aloe vera juice.
For dry skin: use a ratio of 1 part tomato juice to 2 parts aloe vera juice.
Rub a tablespoon of this mixture into your face and rinse with warm water.
5. Sunburn relief
Tomatoes are also wonderful at soothing sunburn. If your sunburn is recent and not blistering or peeling, rubbing a slice of tomato on it can lessen the redness. According to this study, eating tomatoes can increase your skin’s natural sun protection. One more reason to eat those beauties!
6. Make your own pasta sauce
Here’s a great homemade pasta sauce recipe you can make using fresh tomatoes. The recipe calls for five pounds of fresh tomatoes, perfect for when you have too many tomatoes!
7. Tomato sandwiches
I could care less about including yucky winter tomatoes on my sandwiches, but when I’ve got too many tomatoes ripening in the summer, I can’t get enough. Add tomatoes to any sandwich for a burst of flavor, or simply slather some mayo and tomato slices between two pieces of fresh baked bread. Yum!
Try this Heirloom Tomato Sandwich for a yummy treat (hint: it uses avocado!).
8. Tomato soup
And what goes great with sandwiches? Soup of course! Homemade tomato soup is full of lycopene, which has been shown to fight chronic diseases and increase the body’s natural sun protection.
Homemade Tomato Soup is simple, healthy and easy to freeze or can.
This is one of my favorite ways to use up too many tomatoes. I like making a classic BLT, but there are some really interesting ways of dressing up a BLT that are worth a try.
- A fried egg
- Fresh greens
Or just turn your BLT into a BLT grilled cheese (and dip it in your homemade tomato soup!).
10. Tomato juice
If you have too many tomatoes, making tomato juice is a great way to use them up. You can use tomato juice in soups, to add flavor to meat, to deodorize a stinky refrigerator, or to make a kick butt Bloody Mary.
How to Make Tomato Juice
11. Tomato paste
Tomato paste is one of the best sources of lycopene around. It can be used in many dishes and freezes really well, making it an MVP of tomato products.
Pro tip: freeze some tomato paste in ice cube trays or can it in extra-small canning jars.
How to Make Tomato Paste
12. Grilled bruschetta
Bruschetta is a really easy and tasty way to use too many tomatoes. Plus, when you’re grilling them, you don’t have to heat up the kitchen.
Cut a crusty baguette into slices and toast them on the grill. Then brush with garlic butter or oil. Top with slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella or get adventurous and experiment with additional toppings such as mushrooms, fresh chopped herbs, gorgonzola, zucchini, or prosciutto.
13. Fried green tomatoes
Sometimes tomatoes fall off the vine, or a frost is expected before they ripen. What would you do with too many tomatoes when they’re unripened besides fry them?
How to fry green tomatoes:
- Start with slices of green tomato and dip them in an egg bath.
- Coat with batter of choice. Being dairy and gluten free, I use a mixture of cornmeal and another gluten free flour.
- You could also add buttermilk to the egg mixture for an added level of taste.
- Fry the tomatoes in your choice of oil (at roughly 375 degrees) until golden and crispy.
14. Tomato ketchup
Ketchup is an American summer staple, but the store bought kind often includes yucky ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Making your own ketchup is a great way to use those extra tomatoes while keeping your family’s food as clean as possible. Since homemade ketchup uses a lot of them, you’ll never have too many tomatoes again!
Homemade Ketchup Recipes
15. Homemade spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti is a great fall back meal when things get busy. It only takes a few minutes to prepare if you already have canned or jarred sauce on hand.
Set aside an afternoon to prepare and can some pasta sauce, and you’ll have quick and nutritious meals available through the winter.
Home Canned Spaghetti Sauce
16. Homemade pizza sauce
Another quick meal, homemade pizza is a crowd pleaser and pretty simple when you have sauce already on hand. If you make a big batch you can freeze or can enough to last through the winter.
Homemade Pizza Sauce (for the freezer)
17. Grill ‘em
Grilled tomatoes are a fun and easy snack for when you have too many tomatoes.
- Start with firm tomatoes and slice them in half horizontally
- Brush with olive oil.
- Grill until grill marks form.
- Flip and repeat.
- Top with salt.
18. Marinate ’em
Marinated tomatoes are wonderful and really easy to make. Simply add halved cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic to a jar of olive oil and vinegar and let them sit for several hours or overnight.
19. Freeze ’em
Of course you can freeze cooked tomatoes, but have you ever considered freezing raw tomatoes? You can! It’s a great way to preserve them when you have too many tomatoes. If you are planning on using them for a sauce or stew later, freezing whole raw tomatoes is a fine way to preserve them without putting the work in up front to cook them.
20. Can ’em
Whole, halved, or diced, canning is a great way to preserve tomatoes that doesn’t require electricity to keep (like freezing does). Check out these recipes for canning tomatoes:
21. Stuffed tomatoes
Another great way to use too many tomatoes but be sure to use sturdy ones.
- Slice them in half horizontally and scoop out the inside.
- Fill with your choice of filling (breadcrumbs, cheese, spinach, mushrooms, rice and quinoa are some possibilities)
- Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
22. Tri-colored tomato salad
One of my favorite things about growing produce in the backyard is the variety of tastes and colors. When you have a lot of different colored tomatoes, why not make a tri-colored tomato salad? Chop tomatoes to bite sized pieces and toss with fresh basil, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
23. Sun dried tomatoes
I’m always amazed at how expensive sun dried tomatoes are at the grocery store, especially when I know I can make them at home for almost nothing. Sun dried tomatoes are great in pasta dishes, hummus, pesto, or omelets. When you dry them there’s no such thing as too many tomatoes! Try this recipe for making sundried tomatoes at home:
Easiest Sun Dried tomatoes
24. Tomato and fruit
Since technically tomatoes are a fruit, why not add them to your fruit salad? Here are a few fun recipes that use fruit and tomatoes:
Fruit Salad with Tomato
Tomato Fruit Gazpacho
Tomato and Fruit Soup
I had never heard of Shakshukah before, but now I’m sure it will be my new favorite dish.
I’m always looking for ways to use our abundance of fresh eggs and too many tomatoes, and this looks like just the recipe:
Shakshukah AKA Mediterranean Sunshine
26. Tomato basil garlic butter
What’s great about making flavored butter is that you can easily freeze it for another time. So you can make large batches and have it available all winter. Find the recipe here:
Tomato Basil Garlic Butter
27. Barter or sell them
If you have more tomatoes than you can eat, can, freeze, or dry, why not sell them at a farmer’s market or barter with a friend for something different?
28. Give them away
When all else fails and you still have way too many tomatoes, give them away. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone willing to take extra tomatoes off your hands, and it will be a relief to know they aren’t going to waste. You may even be able to donate fresh tomatoes to a local food pantry.
Want an EPIC tomato cookbook?
Click here to see my favorite!
What do YOU do with too many tomatoes?
What do you like to do with your extra garden tomatoes? Share with us in the comments below!