Tomatoes are everywhere in a well-stocked kitchen — canned tomatoes in the pantry, ketchup in the fridge, and maybe a few fresh ones on the counter. We're fortunate to live in a time where tomato products are commercially available in many different forms.
But you don't have to be dependent on store-bought tomato paste and ketchup. With just a few tools and a weekend afternoon, you can stock your own kitchen with homemade tomato staples.
Tomato paste is a staple for making sauces and flavoring soups and dense stews. It isn't too hard to make yourself, and homemade tomato paste has way more flavor than store-bought. Look for paste tomatoes (like Romas or San Marzanos) on sale because you'll need about 10 pounds of tomatoes to make a nice big batch.
Get the Recipe: How To Make Tomato Paste
Oven-dried tomatoes are like the younger, prettier sister of sun-dried tomatoes. Sure, they won't last quite as long as the jarred sun-dried varieties and they need to be refrigerated, but their juicy, velvety texture more than makes up for their shorter lifespan.
Get the Recipe: How To Dry Tomatoes in the Oven
Tomato purée is another surprisingly simple staple that can be made tastier at home. This is a supreme use of less-than-perfect tomatoes or a bumper crop from the garden. Stash homemade tomato purée in the freezer for long-term storage.
Get the Recipe: How To Make Tomato Purée
Canned tomatoes should be in every cook's pantry. Not only do they make quick pasta sauces, but they can also be added to soups, chili, or even become the base for braised meats. While many canned tomato advocates are also pro-whole canned tomatoes, I say stock your pantry with the canned tomatoes that make the most sense for how you cook. I always keep canned diced and Rotel-Style tomatoes on hand.
Get the Recipe: Rotel-Style Tomatoes
Have you tried pickled salsa yet? This seriously stunning salsa gets a ton of flavor from a quick ferment — the results are tastier, but also last significantly longer in the fridge than fresh salsa. This is a brilliant use for cherry tomatoes.
Get the Recipe: How To Make Fizzy, Fermented Salsa
Tomato sauce is essential for quick weeknight pasta dishes, Friday night pizzas, and comforting Sunday casseroles. Basic sauce from fresh tomatoes is a beautiful base that can be flavored when you're ready to serve. Look for ripe summer slicing tomatoes (such as Big Boys) for turning into sauce.
Get the Recipe: How To Make Basic Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes
Use the slow cooker to turn summer tomatoes into the best ketchup ever. While the recipe below calls for canned crushed tomatoes, you can substitute the same weight of peeled paste tomatoes (romas, Jersey Giants, and the like) while they're in season. One other suggestion is to double this recipe — you're going to want extra.
Get the Recipe: How To Make Ketchup in the Slow Cooker