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7 Genius Ways to Put Your Fresh Tomatoes to Work

After tending and harvesting a bumper crop of tomatoes, it's time to put them to work! These tips will help you get every ounce out of this year's tomato haul.

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blanched tomatoes on plateShutterstock / MaraZe

Stress-free peeling

Lots of sauce recipes (like this awesome salsa) call for peeled tomatoes. Make peeling tomatoes a breeze by hulling them and cutting an “X” on the bottom of the tomato. Then, place the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds and immediately plunge in ice water. The skins will peel right off—use a sharp paring knife on any stuck parts.

If you don’t need them peeled right away, drop a few of your freshly picked tomatoes in a plastic freezer bag and store in your freezer. When you’re ready to use them, just hold the frozen tomatoes under warm water; the skins will slip right off and then you can drop the whole skinless tomatoes into your pot. The tomatoes will break up while cooking, so you’ll save time chopping, too.

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Slice Tomatoes in HalfShutterstock / ninikas

Deseed with ease

Skip the canned stuff and whip up the smoothest tomato soup of all time by deseeding your homegrown tomatoes. To deseed a bunch of tomatoes quickly, simply cut your tomato in half and remove the stem. Then hold the tomato half over the sink or a bowl and gently squeeze until all the seeds are forced out. Slice, dice or chop the tomatoes as directed in your recipe.

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Canning fresh tomatoes with onions in jelly marinade.Shutterstock / LaineN

Just stew it!

Make your very own stewed tomatoes by adding 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery, 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, 1 tablespoon finely chopped green pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt to 14 ounces of home-canned tomatoes.

Never canned your own tomatoes before, or need a refresher? Here’s a handy how-to that’ll have you canning like a pro.

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Stock up on sauceTaste of Home

Stock up on sauce

At the end of your harvest, put every last tomato to work with this pasta sauce that uses 25 pounds of tomatoes. Cooking and storing this big batch pasta sauce not only saves you money at the grocery store, but is also a healthier alternative since you control all the ingredients and there are no preservatives.

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tomato juice with tomatoes on backgroundShutterstock / Dima Aslanian

Blend it, baby

Wash and core a few pounds of tomatoes and puree them in a blender with lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped onion and celery, to taste. This makes a great vegetable juice to drink, or you can simmer until slightly thickened for spaghetti sauce or until very thick for pizza sauce. Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer.

Psst: Here’s how to make your pasta sauce taste like an Italian nonna’s.

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Dry them outTaste of Home

Dry them out

Slow-roasting your tomatoes will make them taste like candy. Simply cut them in half, pop them in the oven on low heat and let them bake all afternoon. When you’re done, you can use them in casseroles, salads, quick breads, scrambled eggs and more!

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Shutterstock / Stephen Gibson

Cut, don’t crush

Say goodbye to bruising or crushing your tomatoes while cutting with some proper technique. Simply use a sharpened serrated knife, rather than straight-edged one, and cut the tomato vertically from stem end to blossom end. Slicing this way will result in a less runny slice that will hold its shape better.

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