Supremely ripe, juicy summer tomatoes are worth waiting to eat tomatoes for, but with a few tricks up your sleeve you can save that great tangy flavor to enjoy later in the year. Can, freeze, dry, or just simply cook down tomatoes with the methods below. Some of these methods require a bit of time, but none require special skills or anything complicated.
This is the classic way of turning fresh, ripe tomatoes into something you can enjoy all year long. Whole peeled tomatoes are perfect for turning into sauces, using on pizzas, and adding into stews. All you need is tomatoes, a large pot, sealable jars, and some time. No special skills required, I promise. See How to Can Tomatoes.
These chopped tomatoes involve and extra step or two, compared to the whole peeled tomatoes above, but they're even easier to use after they've been canned. See How to Can Chopped Tomatoes.
This ultra-simple tomato sauce (really a cooked down tomato puree with some salt in it) is great for canning because it is so basic. You can add any herbs, spices, or other flavor agents later, when you know how you're going to use it!
Freezing tomatoes is far and away the easiest way to keep ripe tomatoes until you're ready to use them. You don't have to peel them first (in fact, the act of freezing them itself makes the tomatoes insanely easy to peel!) and you can freeze as many or as few at a time as you like. Also, unlike canned tomatoes or dried tomatoes, which are best made with low-moisture tomatoes, juicier or more tender varieties can be frozen with great success. Of course, they are then best used in recipes that require cooking the tomatoes - these won't look so great in a tomato salad once they defrost. See How to Freeze Tomatoes.
These oven-dried tomatoes aren't so dried out that they'll keep forever, but if you put them in a jar and cover them with olive oil and pop them in the fridge, they'll last a nice long time indeed. Then pull them out to chop and add to winter salads, pastas, stews, or even roasts. See How to Make Oven-Dried Tomatoes.
Calling this "tomato paste" almost isn't right. It's almost more of a magical elixir, adding its rich tomato essence to everything it touches. I make a batch of this every year and every year we run out way too soon and I vow to make more than one batch the following year. Why don't I? Well, I cannot tell a lie, it's because making this tomato conserva (that's what we call it at my house) really is a fair amount of work. It's worth it, and I'm always glad I've done it, but when I'm done I don't so much feel like jumping right back into it! Take the plunge, see How to Make Homemade Tomato Paste.