I do it every year. I have all these varieties of cherry tomatoes that I love, just love and have to plant. “Well, I only really need one of each plant, but I’d better make it two so that I can give some away to friends and family. If I want two plants, I’d better start four seeds just to be on the safe side.” And then I end up with four plants of each kind of cherry tomato. Come late summer I’ve filled every bowl I own, and there are tomatoes on every available flat surface I can find. Then inevitably I end up with fruit flies all over the house. Ugh, fruit flies. This is the reality of an heirloom cherry tomato addict.
What do you do when you’re knee-deep in cherry tomatoes? Or maybe you’ve found some irresistible looking ones at the farmer’s market. How do you use up all those cherry tomatoes? They are really versatile little things… good for so much more than a salad! I’ve got some ideas for you.
Eat More Tomatoes in Everyday Life
Just Eat More| Get the family to eat more of them. Send a baggie of cherry tomatoes in everyone’s lunch box. I did this to Karl last year and he loved it. He kept a bowl full on his desk and popped them like candy all day long. He would eat a pint per day during high tomato season!
Give the Gift of Tomatoes| And make it special- get yourself some cute wooden boxes or green pulp berry boxes and fill them with a nice assortment of colors. Tie on a raffia or jute bow with a little gift tag and give them to neighbors, teachers, clergy, the mailman, or anyone who might need their day brightened. Because cherry tomatoes will definitely brighten a day.
Feed Your Feathered Friends| Our chickens love tomatoes. It’s kind of funny to watch them bite into a ripe cherry tomato and squirt seeds everywhere, usually on my pant legs. Cut them in half to avoid anyone getting one stuck in their throat (although my chickens seem to navigate them pretty well whole).
The Most Incredible Cherry Tomato Recipes
Grilled| Toss with cooking oil, skewer and grill. I prefer metal skewers like these, because the wood always burn and are a pain. Or use a grill basket (we love ours!). Grilled tomatoes are the best!
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce| Cherry tomatoes can actually make pretty darn good tomato sauce, when treated right. Cut them in half and toss with oil, salt, a few grinds of pepper, several whole garlic cloves, and whatever fresh herbs you have. Arrange the mixture on a baking pan with the tomatoes cut side up and bake at 400F for 45 minutes, or until starting to shrivel and almost brown. Then throw everything in a food processor or blender until smooth. This also freezes well.
Cherry Tomato Salsa| Just toss a bunch into the food processor with garlic, onion and jalapeños for a super quick fresh salsa. Or cut into quarters if you prefer a chunky, fresher looking salsa.
Caprese-Style| Toss with fresh mozzarella, lots of basil, sea salt, black pepper and drizzle of olive oil. Or make cherry tomato caprese bites by using little bamboo party picks to skewer a cherry tomato, a leaf of basil, and then a piece of fresh mozz. Great summertime party food!
Cherry Tomato Pot Roast| Throw a roast into the crockpot with a quart of cherry tomatoes, some fresh garlic cloves and sliced onions. The tomatoes will release all their juices and develop an acidic and tenderizing cooking liquor. My recipe for End of Summer Tomato and Herb Pot-Roast should do.
Tomatoes & Green Beans| These two go great together! Saute green beans until just about tender, then add cherry tomatoes to pan and cook 2-3 minutes more. Top with crumbled bacon or parmesan for an incredible side dish!
With Eggs| Tomatoes go great with eggs- use in a frittata or quiche, or simply chop up tomatoes and serve on top of scrambled eggs with fresh herbs (and a touch of fresh goat cheese).
Preserving Cherry Tomatoes
Freeze ’em| What I consider the best kept secret in cherry tomatoes. Fill gallon zip-top freezer bags full and just throw them in the freezer! No prep whatsoever needed (well, besides washing and removing the tops). Then you can use them all winter in soups, pureed for chili, or sautéed for a quick chunky tomato sauce. Thaw and feed to the chickens in the winter too!
Better Yet: Oven Roast and Then Freeze| If you have a tiny bit of extra time you can improve your cherry tomatoes greatly by roasting them first! Simply cut in half, toss them very lightly with oil and salt, and place them cut side up on a large baking sheet (or two, or however many you can fit in the oven). Bake at 400F for 45-75 minutes, or until starting to shrivel and almost starting to brown. The flavors become concentrated and incredible. Allow the tomatoes to cool and then freeze. Put them on pizza, chicken, burgers, eggs… anything!
Pickle ‘Em| I’ve never done it, but if you’re someone who will eat just about anything pickled, then you might consider pickling your cherry tomatoes. They’d be a nice Bloody Mary garnish! —> Instructions to get you started, from Anthony Todd at Chicagoist.
Dehydrated| Cut in half and place cut-side up on dehydrator trays. Add dried basil, garlic and sprinkle of salt if you want to eat them as a snack when finished. Otherwise leave them plain and dehydrate until dry.
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