10 Things to do with surplus tomatoes

10 Things to do with surplus tomatoes

There is nothing better than eating fresh tasty tomatoes from your own greenhouse. They usually crop for a good time through summer but inevitably at some point you will end up with a surplus. This is where things become really interesting and you need to be a little inventive with your crop. You could simply try a slightly different salad to tempt the family, or you could really impress with some home made sauces and other treats.

1: Tomato & Mozarella salad

This is an extremely simple yet delicious salad which can be enjoyed anytime. It relies on the taste of your home grown tomatoes therefore supermarket substitutions do not work well


  • 3 Large tomatoes sliced thickly
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced the same as the tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, (freshly ground)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, mince


  • Simply arrange the slices ot tomato and mozzarella on a large plate or serving dish alternating between the two. 
  • Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a sealed container and shake well
  • Drizzle over the tomatoes and mozarella, sprinkle with the minced basil

2: Sun Dried Tomatoes

This is a little bit of a false title as we rarely have weather good enough in the UK to sun dry tomatoes. It is far more likely that you will use your oven to create these delicious treats. 


  • Tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

The salt and olive oil is not 100% necessary but does add a little to the taste


  • Slice the tomatoes into a uniform thickness, this is important to allow them to dry at a consistent rate
  • Place the tomatoes into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and toss lightly
  • Place on a non stick baking sheet and place into an oven at approximately 200 degrees F, 95 degrees C for an hour
  • Turn the oven off after an hour and leave overnight in the warmth of the oven
  • This should result in the tomatoes being dry but still flexible, if they are a little stiff and dry they will still taste fantastic.
  • These are just guidelines and you will find your own best settings and what works for you
  • Store in an airtight container and enjoy the taste of your summer all winter long

3: Fresh Salsa

This is a Mexican favourite which is excellent as a dip or accompaniement to Mexican style dishes


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, or equivalent quantity of smaller fruit
  • 2 chilli peppers, chose your favoirite strength
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Rinse the onions and garlic in a strainer by pouring two cups of boiling water over them. Drain and allow to cool fully
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, chillies, parsley and lime juice. Seaon with the salt and pepper to taste
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours
  • This is a basic list of ingredients, many changes can be made according to your taste and what is available

4: Tomato Soup

If you would like to taste the best soup you have ever had there is a very easy way to achieve this, simply make your own!


  • 6 - 7 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 diced medium onion
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, (keep some aside for a garnish)
  •  3 cups of vegetable or other stock, (chicken or beef is equally suitable)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup of cream or milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Fry the onions and garlic in a large pan using the olive oil over a medium heat. After around 7 minutes they should be soft and almost transparent.
  • Add the butter and once it has melted whisk in the flour, (after sieving) and continue whisking for a minute
  • Whisk in the stock slowly and then add the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, celery seed, paprika, honey and a dash of salt and papper
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 - 25 minutes when the tomatoes should have reduced and softened
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cream or milk
  • Blend until smooth
  • Serve with fresh basil garnish and crusty bread

5: Pasta Sauce

This is probably the most versatile use for tomatoes as it can form the basis of so many meals simply by adding a few ingredients. The sauce can be frozen so storage is not an issue and there is little on the shelves of supermarkets to come close to the taste of your own sauce


  • 500g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 a stock cube, (any flavour is suitable)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • torn basil leaves


  • Fry the garlic gently in the olive oil for around a minute
  • Add the tomatoes, the 1/2 stock cube, tomato puree and sugar and bring to the boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Tear a few basil leaves and stir in the sauce

6: Tomato Juice

 Homemade tomato juice can be frozen then whenever you want a tomato-based drink, like a bloody Mary you're all set. It can also be used as the basis of a soup or pasta sauce if you have run out of any of these.


  • 3 pounds of very ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped onoin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, (to taste - adjust if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Small amount of tabasco sauce (6 - 8 drops)


  • Place everything into a large saucepan and simmer for around 25 minutes until mixture is the right consistency
  • Force the mixture through a wire sieve and cool completely

7: Tomato Puree

This is a silky smooth tomato purée that is perfect for sauces, stews, and other tomato dishes.


  • 500 grammes of fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs, (Oregano, Thyme, Basil)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt & pepper and a few drops of tabasco sauce to taste


  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft, stirring continually
  • Add all the rest of the ingredients except the tabasco sauce and bring to the boil
  • Once boiling reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring reguarly
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Puree with a hand held liquidiser.
  • Cook over a high heat until the mixture is reduced by around a half
  • Add the tabasco sauce and mix thouroghly
  • Freeze in ice cube trays to allow a convenient portion to be used whenever needed 

8: Tomato Ketchup

I doubt whether you will ever find an easier recipe that this one for delicious home made tomato ketchup. There is no sugar at all in this, (apart from the honey which in my world does not count!)


  • 3 pounds of ripe fresh tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon worcester sauce
  • 1 teaspoon french mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Add everything to a large saucepan
  • Bring to a boil over a medium to high heat. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 30 - 60 mintes until completely soft
  • Remove from heat and mash using a potato mash. Leave to cool and then blend until smooth.

9: Freezing Tomatoes

There are two main ways to freeze tomatoes, either directly or after blanching, most find the direct way is easiest. Freezing retains all the flavour of the fruit, it will not retail the texture, they will be fairly mushy when ready to be used so please don't expect to be able to use the tomatoes in a salad once defrosted.

Direct Freezing:

The easiest way to freeze small quantities of tomatoes is to place them in a single layer in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. You will find a drinking straw will allow you to remove most of the air very easily. They can then be placed in the coldest part of the freezer as the faster you can freeze then the better the results.

If you have a larger quantity to freeze it is wise to use a baking tray that you can arrange the tomatoes on in a single layer. Once frozen you can then simply transfer them to bags or containers of your choice.

Season the tomatoes after you defrost them, not before as this can affect the freezing process

Blanching First:

This method is useful for thicker skinned varieties which would not be great in sauces when used.

Firstly remove the stem from the top and cut a small cross in the top with a sharp knife. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Boil two or three for between 10 seconds and a minute until the skin starts to soften. You can only guage this by experiment as every batch will be different. Immediately plunge them into the ice water to cool. Once cool you can then peel by hand and then freeze as above. 

10: Make new friends with the neighbours!

There is always one lovely way to make use of all your surplus produce. Knock on the door of any of your neighbours and simply ask them whether they would like some of your spare tomatoes. Many a friendship has started in this way and I can't think of a nicer way to introduce yourself to any newcomers in your street. Please don't forget to tell them to buy a greenhpouse though fron Elloughton Greenhouses!