The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.

Easy Freezy Stewed Tomatoes

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There is nothing like the smell and taste of a freshly picked tomato, still warm from the sun when you slice it open.  If you are like me, you’d like that delicious taste in the cold winter months too.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to stew them.  I know that doesn’t sound appetizing, but it is! The goal here is to have tomatoes from your garden, or the farmer’s market, available for winter dishes, like chili, soups, stews, casseroles, etc. This time of year fresh tomatoes are still in abundance, but only for a few more weeks.  So pick ’em, or buy ’em, and start stewing.

I use a variety of tomatoes, not just the traditional plum.  Plum tomatoes have more meat than juice so it only makes sense to include plum, but adding the heirlooms like the black krims, gives your stewed toms a rich flavor.

The ingredients are simple: tomatoes, green peppers, and onions.  You can adjust the amount of ingredients to what is ripe in your garden, but the ratio I use is three times the tomatoes to onion, and half the amount of green peppers to onion, with salt to taste.   I suggest following this guideline at least the first time, and then change it to suit your taste after you’ve taste tested your first batch.

Traditional stewed tomato recipes use celery instead of peppers.  We use the stewed tomatoes in a lot of chili over the winter, and we don’t put celery in our chili, hence the substitution.  I have made both when I have more tomatoes than we can eat or share.  The preparation is the same, so mix and match to your taste.

First step is to prepare your tomatoes. The fastest and easiest way to do this is to parboil them until the skin starts to peel, about 5 min. I have peeled a pile of tomatoes without parboiling them, so that I could watch a good movie while doing it, but you don’t get as much tomato flesh and it does take a lot longer.  Both methods are messy.


par boiling tomatoes


Here you can see the skin peeling. This tomato is an Amish Plum. It’s pretty large for a plum tomato and absolutely delicious. They’re hardy, disease resistant, and a beautiful rich red. If you plan on doing a lot of canning or freezing, these are the tomatoes to use. 



Here the tomato skin is peeled. Peels off with your fingers, no knife needed.

Yep, it’s messy.  Once you’ve peeled the tomato, slice it open and slide your fingers through it to pull out the seeds. Most of the juice will follow. You’ll be left with a nice pile of pulp.

Add chopped onions and peppers, and put the pot on low.   As for the amount of tomatoes, peppers and onions, you don’t have to be exact. If you only have a dozen tomatoes, one large onion and a couple of small green peppers  (which is what is in this pot), then that’s all you need.

Simmer your pot on low until the mixture is reduced by half. I smash the chunks of tomatoes with a potato masher to smooth out the mixture.

img_0356This pot yielded two quarts ready for the freezer. Now I am looking forward to football and chili.

Author: Laurine M. Byrne

I received my certification as a Landscape Designer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and I received my horticulture education through classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois and through the master gardener program at Univ of Illinois Extension. In my designs, I love mixing veggies and herbs with native perennials and flowering bushes as you can see from the pictures of my own yard. I love creating gardens for people who like to garden, not just installing traditional landscaping, but actually creating gardens that the homeowner connects to personally. I love that my clients who thought they couldn't grow anything now have green thumbs, because all it takes is the right plant in the right site. And I really love that my clients become my friends in the process of creating their gardens.

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