As summer hits full stride and the garden harvest begins to roll in, there always seems to be one question coming from nearly every tomato growing gardener in the world: How are we going to use all of these cherry tomatoes?!
For us, it happens every single summer like clockwork. One day, we’re excited to see the first few little cherry tomatoes ripening on the plant. Within a week – we might start harvesting four or five a day. And before we know it, there seems to be no possible way to consume the hundreds and hundreds coming from the plant every week!
For us these days, we actually look forward to a massive harvest of cherry tomatoes. In fact, we plant a few extra of the high producing plants just to make sure we have an overabundance of the tasty little tomatoes.
How To Use A Big Harvest Of Cherry Tomatoes
Our cherry tomato dilemma was really put to the test a few years back. That is when we accidentally planted 4 massive heirloom cherry tomato plants in our garden – in addition to the two black cherry plants we normally plant in our bucket planters.
Sad to say, it was all because I simply labeled our seed trays wrong – but as sometimes mistakes work out for the best – the over-planting of cherry tomatoes actually turned out to be a great thing in the end.
The truth is, cherry tomato plants are loaded with flavor and juice. Especially when you plant a wide variety of yellow, orange and chocolate cherry tomato plants in addition to the traditional sweet red cherry varieties.
Not only do you have an amazingly large harvest – you have one that is loaded with incredible flavor. And during the year we ended up with more than we could imagine – we started finding a few extra ways to process or use them all before they went bad – and came up with these 7 favorites that fill our home with great flavor each and every summer!
7 Great Ways To Use All Of Those Cherry Tomatoes!
#1 Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Talk about a delicious side dish that is easy to make! Roasted cherry tomatoes are incredibly full of intense flavor. And, even better, they go well with so many other vegetables and meats.
Although you don’t have to cut them in half, we find that they roast quicker and taste even better when you do. By splitting them first, the roasting process really gets into the meat of the fruit.
Although you can cut them in half one by one, you can also use the plate method for mass cutting. Simply place several on a cutting board. Next, place the bottom of a plate on top to hold them steady. To cut, just run a serrated knife right through the middle. Just like that, you have perfect tomato halves!
To roast, lay your cherry tomatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet with the cut side up. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt and desired seasonings over the top of your tomatoes.
Roast uncovered at 400 degrees F for approximately 20-30 minutes. Serve on top of your favorite dish, or cool and freeze for later use.
#2 Picante Salsa – How To Use All Of Those Cherry Tomatoes!
Traditional salsa is always a bit thicker and chunkier and requires a more meaty tomato – but if you like picante-style salsa, then a big harvest of cherry tomatoes is just what the doctor ordered!
Cherry tomatoes are full of flavor and juice. And that makes them absolutely ideal for turning into some of the best picante around! One single batch can use up hundreds and hundreds of cherry tomatoes – and leave you with amazing picante.
Picante has all of the essential ingredients that are in standard, chunky salsa. But in place of large pieces of tomatoes, pepper and onions, the sauce is much smoother and thinner. For our tried and true picante recipe, check out our recipe here and simply substitute all of those cherry tomatoes! See : Homemade Picante
#3 Tomato Juice – How To Use All Of Those Cherry Tomatoes
Nothing can use up a big batch of cherry tomatoes like making homemade tomato juice! Juice is great to have on hand for drinking, or for all kinds of dishes too. Even better, you can can it to have all winter long.
To make juice – simply wash your tomatoes and put them in a large stockpot. Cook them down until heated through. No need to add extra liquid, as the cherry tomatoes will begin to break down and produce their own liquid.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Put through a tomato strainer and return the liquid to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. Cool and freeze or process for canning. See How to Can Tomato Juice.
#4 Sun Dried Tomatoes – How To Use All Of Those Cherry Tomatoes
Sun dried tomatoes are one of the best ways to preserve your cherry tomatoes for later use. If you live in a dry, sunny area, you can place cherry tomato halves on baking sheets in the sun, and simply let them dry out naturally.
For those don’t live in this type of climate, you can dry your tomatoes by either using your oven or a dehydrator. We use a Cuisinart Food Dehydrator in our kitchen.
Wash your tomatoes and cut them in half and place them into a bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and spices and gently toss. Place tomatoes cut side up onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cook at 200 degrees F for 4-8 hours.
#5 Freeze Cherry Tomatoes Whole – How To Use All Of Those Cherry Tomatoes
One of the best ways to preserve a cherry tomatoes is to simply freeze them whole to use later whenever you need.
One thing we have always found with cherry tomatoes is that once the season ends, we begin missing them quickly. Especially when it comes to having a them so handy for salads or fresh eating. But freezing them is quick and easy, and keeps them at the ready.
Just wash, pull off the stem, and flash freeze them on a baking sheet. Once they are frozen, place them in a freezer safe bag, making sure to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible.
This is where our food saver and food saver bags come in handy! Not only are they quick and easy to use, they do a great job of sealing out the air for long storage life.
When you are ready to use them, just pull them out of the freezer. The cherry tomatoes will be softer than if you were using fresh, but still have intense flavor. They are also great for recipes, soups, sauces and casseroles.
#6 Tomato Salads – How To Use All Of Those Cherry Tomatoes
Not only are both quick and easy to make, they are perfect for using up large amounts of ultra sweet cherry tomatoes. The intense flavor of the cherry tomato is actually the perfect choice for both recipes!
#7 Ingredient Quick & Easy Tomato Sauce
With their sugary sweet flavor, cherry tomatoes make an incredible tomato sauce. And this simple 5 ingredient sauce is just the ticket for using up quite a few at once time.
Heat 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add 4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic and heat until fragrant and softened (about 2 minutes).
Add 4 cups of cherry tomatoes to the pan and cook. As they begin to burst, continue to smash them down while you stir. Continue to cook and smash until the desired consistency has been reached.
To finish, add in 1 cup of chopped basil and ground black pepper to taste. This sauce is perfect for serving over pasta right away, or freeze it to use all winter long
So there you have it – our seven favorite ways to use up a big tomato cherry harvest. Here is to always finding a way to make a mistake turn out better! Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary