I Love Tomato Season

There I was, wandering through the produce section of a little specialty grocery store, when I suddenly hear a shout.

“Honey! Do you want these?”

My husband had found a cart containing bushel baskets of canning tomatoes. He knows I love to make red sauce from scratch and use my own tomatoes in chili and spaghetti, so he started picking through the bushels to check for quality.

Next thing I know, I’m on my deck with a bushel of tomatoes, a propane boiler thingy set up, and huge pots. I don’t even know how it happened, but I’m so grateful it did.

How to Stew Tomatoes

Mr. Alexander occasionally brews his own beer, so he has an entire set up with a propane boiler thingy, a pot I’m pretty sure is big enough I can sit in it, and a “system”.

He suggested I stew the tomatoes outdoors this year so that when I was done, we could simply run the hose on the deck and patio table to wash them off.

Typically, I just make a mess in the kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr. Alexander set up his propane thingy (this isn’t his, but it’s similar) and pulled out the beer-making pot for an ice bath. I grabbed a large stock pot for the actual stewing.

Propane Thingy and Stock Pot
Ice Bath

On another note, we’ve used this pot and burner to make a Low Country Boil with shrimp, potatoes and corn. More on that someday!

Mr. Alexander was a doll and filled the pots for me. They’re rather heavy with the water in, of course, and my arm muscles are… not there. Then we fueled up the propane burner, brought the water to a boil, and in went the tomatoes.

I’ve already blogged on how to stew tomatoes, so I won’t wax nostalgic. Suffice it to say I boil the heck out of them to make sure they are fully cooked.

After that, into the ice bath. Usually the ice bath is when you are just trying to get the tomato skins off rather than cook or stew them. I use the ice bath so the dang tomatoes are cool enough to chop. Those suckers are hot!

The skin does peel off nicely during the boil and ice bath, so if you are just trying to get tomato skins off, about 30 seconds in the boiling water will do. Once the skin starts to split it’s good to go.

When the tomatoes are cooled a bit, I pull them out and chop/puree/disintegrate the meaty areas into small pieces and discard as much of the seeds as possible. However, I save whatever juice leaks out onto the cutting board. I like to add that to the stewed tomatoes. As much as I don’t like the seeds, I do want to maintain as much tomato-y goodness as possible.

P.S. There IS a cutting board there. It’s just nearly invisible as it’s made of clear plastic.

And, voila. Skins and seeds go in one bowl, chopped and stewed tomatoes in the other. Let them cool and portion out into freezer bags.

It took me about an hour for this bushel, and it was sweaty, hot work for a summer afternoon, but I know from experience that when I pull those stewed tomatoes out in January and make red sauce from scratch, I will be one happy girl.


  1. Love the pictures. How easy to do that on the deck and with those appliances! Great blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Diana! It was a lot of work, even with the appliances, but definitely worth it. I ended up with four bags of 28oz of stewed tomatoes, and 6 bags of 16oz. I’ve been doing sweet corn to freeze too. Nothing like fresh veggies in the middle of winter!

  2. Alyssa your sauce looks amazing! And now Iโ€™m hungry for pasta ๐Ÿ™‚ My husband has a huge veggie garden and every year weโ€™ve made our own sauce. We use a tomato press (see link below) which makes the job easier. We cut tomatoes in half, salt, pepper and olive oil them and then roast them (450 degrees, ~30-45 min) in the oven on sheet pans (parchment paper makes clean up easier). Once they start to brown/caramelize slightly, we take them out and pop them in the tomato peeler. It separates the โ€œmeatโ€ from the seeds and peels. We run the meat through the peeler 3 times. We add Italian herbs and roasted garlic to the sauce and then freeze. Perhaps a possible gift opportunity from Mr. Alexander?!


    • This is awesome! What a great gadget! I’ve looked into them before, but have never pulled the trigger. Was never sure it would work as well as I’d hoped.

      Your sauce sounds delish, too. Yuuuummmmm….

  3. I miss doing that. Didn’t get my garden in this year.


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