It finally happened.  You went from anticipation as that very first tomato turned gradually from yellow to red, then feasted happily on a half dozen that were either sliced and devoured, or placed in salads.  Then tomatoes came on by the dozen, and you started serious canning, now they’re out there nearly in hundreds and what are you going to do with them?  Give some to the kids and grandkids?  Fine.  Pass out a few to neighbors?  Fine.  But I’ve a solution to that massive excess that will continue to grow, and a wonderful solution(s) it is.

Your first thought should be to make some vegetable juice.  I make a few jars most years, and always regret that I didn’t make more.  To do it, pick enough ripe tomatoes to fill your sink, and be sure it’s a sink that can easily handle boiling water without cracking or injury.  I wash the tomatoes, make sure the bottom piece is in so it’s leak proof, and bring water to a roiling boil in a large clam pot.  Then I pour the water over the tomatoes, cover the lot with newspapers, and let them sit for an hour or so before draining off the water.

The next step is a little tedious: standing there patiently with a small, sharp knife, coring each tomato and removing its skin, then chunking it up into the clam pot.  The following step is a little tedious too, but simply must be done, running the tomatoes through a colander to remove seeds.  One year I skipped the seed removal and couldn’t enjoy my juice for troublesome seeds.

Now, it gets easy.  Boil the tomatoes along with small chunked carrots, celery (vital), bell peppers, and onions until soft.  You can let it go at this or get creative, and add some salt and pepper, basil, oregano, hot peppers, whatever else you’d like to add.  Then when all the vegetables are soft, toss them into the blender in batches until everything has a smooth consistency, and put everything back to reach a gentle boil again.

At this point, I’ve placed clean quart jars into a container with a wire bottom that will hold seven quart jars, added a little water for steam, and replaced the lid. When the jars are hot, lids in a separate pan are hot, and the juice is hot, I fill the jars, quickly add lids, and place them on a towel to cool and seal.  Then into the basement  they go, but not for long.  I’ve never had this home-made vegetable juice last more than a few weeks.  In fact, I sometimes walk down there and bring up a quart just to drink on the spot.  Really tasty.

Here’s another thought for excess tomatoes.  I can mine, but a friend says she freezes hers, and swore they were great!  She scalds and skins tomatoes just as above, then chunks them up, and places batches in quart freezer bags, just the right amount for vegetable soup, chili, spaghetti, and other tomato dishes.  Then tosses them into an out-of-the-way corner of her freezer.  “They’re a little soft and soggy if you want to eat them fresh.”she said.  “But they work fine for other things that require cooking, and are a lot quicker than canning.”

Here’s one final idea, try slicing up some green tomatoes, adding a dusting of flour, and frying them crisp and brown in olive oil.  Fried green tomatoes might be an acquired taste, but I like them fine, and probably you will, too.

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