Another summer garden crop that we have had much success with is tomatoes. I usually spend all spring thinking about fresh tomatoes. And I usually end up planting too many tomato plants. (We also get fresh tomatoes all summer from our local CSA farm.) We get the tomato seedlings free at the local university open house in the spring, so we don’t even pay for the seeds/seedlings! And I forget, every year, just how big the vines can get! They usually end up overshadowing whatever I have planted close to them.
Cherry tomatoes are a huge hit with The Boy. I will often find him out in the garden, eating juicy, red cherry tomatoes right off the vine. Of course, by the end of the summer, I am giving away bags of them to everyone in the neighborhood.
The regular tomatoes, though, I am a little more frugal with. What we don’t eat fresh (on pizza, sandwiches and just plain!), I like to freeze. I freeze tomatoes whole, without cooking them. I don’t know if this is the ‘right’ way to do it, but it works for me. I cut off the tops, put several in a freezer ziploc bag and ‘suck’ as much air out as I can before sealing it. I label the bag and pop it in the freezer. Freezer tomatoes are great to use in sauces and such later on. Take a bag out of the freezer and allow it to thaw a bit in the refrigerator. Empty the tomatoes into a microwave-safe bowl and finish thawing. The skins slip off quite easily and the tomatoes can go right into the pot or the pan.
Another way to save your excess tomatoes is to make spaghetti sauce and freeze that. If you live in an area that will support the growth of tomatoes all summer, try growing some yourself and save some $$ on fresh tomatoes all summer and sauces throughout the winter!