September 1st, 2009


What To Do with a Glut of Tomatoes

I have been harping on all summer about my fantastic kitchen garden. We have taken full advantage of a small space and grown as many different fruits and vegetables that we could physically fit in.

Mr.P has an affinity for tomatoes and has collected seeds for quite some time, he planted the seeds in April of this year and low and behold we have had tomato plants all over the place. We planted 28 tomato plants in our garden and gave a few seedlings to good homes.

Unfortunately we planted too many in the space we have and did not give the plants enough room to grow and bear fruits to their full potential. Lesson has been learned and we will certainly do things differently next year, that is the beauty of planting and learning as you go along.

Despite all that we have harvested 4kg of ripe tomatoes over the weekend and there are about another 6 kg of green ones still on the plants.

It’s fantastic, as we feel that we have actually provided food for ourselves. The next step is to preserve this bounty for the winter months to come.

I have written three basic recipes on how to preserve your glut of tomatoes. I love all three as they have different uses. The tomato, ginger and sultana chutney recipe is one of my trusty old friends. This recipe has come along with me for many years and stems from my restaurant days. I have made so many different variations of this one recipe, it’s easy as long as the basic principles remain the same.


The bottled tomato sauce is a stunner, one you can make and bottle and utilise in so many different dishes. From a simple tomato soup or forming the base for a rich and delicious ragu. My freezer is bursting and I cannot fit another thing in and for that reason I had to start preserving my tomatoes in sterilized bottles, it works perfectly providing that you sterilize the bottles correctly.


The last recipe is one that I have already featured in a previous posting, it’s such a good tip that I could not ignore it. For the semi-dried tomatoes, I wash and cut them in half, season with salt and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, then dry the tomatoes in a cool oven for a about three hours. Once semi-dried I place them in sterilized bottles and cover them with oil and keep them in the fridge till needed. They will keep for up to one month chilled as the oil locks out oxygen. Use the semi-dried tomatoes in risottos, pasta dishes, on warm salads or pizzas,  the list is never ending.


Tomato, Ginger and Sultana Chutney

  • 150ml white wine vinegar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g golden sultanas
  • 500g ripe tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1tbs shredded ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 3tbs tomato puree
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp black onion seeds

Sterilize the glass jars.

Prepare the tomatoes, wash and roughly chop them.

Crush the garlic and dice the peeled onion.

Place the vinegar, sugar, cardamom pods, onion, ginger, seasoning, crushed garlic and coriander seeds in a large saucepan over low heat to dissolve the sugar.

Once the sugar has dissolved bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil until it becomes a syrup. You will notice that the bubbles becomes laboured and heavier.

Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and sultanas and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

Cook until the chutney is the right consistency. I like my chutney thick and quite dry but it's your choice, if you would like to test your chutneys setting point, place a small plate in the freezer, pour a teaspoon of chutney on the ice cold plate, let it cool for 5 minutes and then you will have an  indication of what it would look like once cooled.

Once your happy with your consistency add the chopped thyme and onion seeds, adjust the seasoning if needed.

Let the chutney cool for 10 minutes before you fill your sterilized jars.

Makes approximately 600g of chutney

Food Fanatics Tips

As I have already mentioned I love this recipe as it's a fantastic basic recipe that could be adapted easily. For a pear or mango chutney I use the basic recipe and replace the tomatoes with peeled and roughly diced pears or mangoes and replace the tomato puree with 1tsb finely sliced and de-seeded red chillies. I also add a tiny pinch of saffron to the chutney to give it that golden rich colour, be conservative and only add a tiny pinch!

Semi-dried Tomatoes

  • 2kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Oil to keep the tomatoes in, either olive or sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 100°C and place two large cooling racks on two large baking trays.

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in halves or quarters, the smaller the size the quicker they will dry.

Place the cut tomatoes on the cooling racks, lightly season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and scatter the thyme leaves  over the tomatoes.

Place the tray in the preheated oven for approximately three hours. The length of time that you dry the tomatoes depends on the amount you are drying and also the way that you have cut them. I set a timer for two hours to begin with and then check them and increase the drying time to to suit my needs.

For preserving them I would like them dry enough but not completely shriveled nor juicy and wet.

Once the tomatoes are semi-dried remove the tray from the oven.Sterilize the jars that will be used to store them .

Wearing claen rubber gloves, place the warm tomatoes into the sterilized jars and cover with oil. Keep the bottles in the fridge. I use olive oil and once the tomatoes have been used you will have tomato infused oil which makes perfect dressings for pasta dishes or salads.

Makes about 750 gms of semi-dried tomatoes

Tomato Sauce For Keeps

  • 1.5kg tomatoes
  • 3 large white onions
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3tbs tomato puree
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 150ml water
  • 2tbs cater sugar
  • Sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano and fresh whole bay leaves

Sterilize glass jars.

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half.

Crush the garlic and roughly dice the peeled onions.

Heat a large saucepan with the oil and saute the onion, crushed garlic , bay leaves and seasoning until golden brown.

Add the tomato puree and sugar and cook for 3 minutes, add the prepared tomatoes and water.

Bring the tomatoes to a the boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Place a food mill over a clean saucepan and pass the tomato sauce through the food mill, discard the skins and bring the sauce back to the boil.

Divide the fresh sprigs of herbs between the jars, then pour the sauce into the sterilized glass jars or bottles, seal and cool.

Makes approximately 2L tomato sauce

Sterilising the jars:

This is one of the most crucial steps to successful preserving and you should never cut corners with this one. If you not do this properly you might find your preserved goods becomes mouldy and ferments sooner than expected. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water; do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the damp jars and lids on a clean baking tray; try not to touch the jars and lids on the insides. Place them in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the jars cool slightly before you scoop in the cooked product.

Never pour cold liquid in to hot glass jars, you will end up with broken glass. Take extra care when sterilising the jars, if they are overheated they might explode.

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44 Comments to “What To Do with a Glut of Tomatoes”

  1. Madalene says:

    Great Idea! Will have a go at the tomato sorbet this weekend as there are load of tomatoes ready to be harvested.

  2. James says:

    No tomato sorbet for you then?

    My nana used to make tons of tomato sauce and freeze it in small batches and we’d use it throughout the year – and it would run out just in time for the next season. You could add it frozen to whatever you were cooking. Good idea with the dried tomatoes – I tend to just make them and use them straight away. This would definitely save time.

  3. Hi there – been trying to keep up with blog reading and enjoyed reading these posts. It’s a reminder to me to think more clearly myself about my tomato crops to be planted when I get back home.

    We’re staying in Hereford right now with my parents and wanted to go to the Ludlow Food Festival but I got all my dates muddled up and we’re going to miss it now.

    Yesterday we bought cheese – Oxford Blue and a local Hereford Cheese. They were sublime. They had a depth of flavour that New Zealand cheeses don’t have.

    Food in Shanghai was wonderful although I didn’t take pictures to prove it especially the seafood. Next time we go we’ll definitely focus on food more.

    Am looking forward to visiting some farmers markets whilst I’m over here and trying to persuade my sister in law to visit Borough Market when we’re back in London.

  4. Madalene says:

    Yes you can use your thermomix however the colour of the sauce will be light orange instead of tomato red. The Taste will be amazing though!

  5. Rob says:

    I’ve just bought a Thermomix (fantastic gadget) – would I be able to use it instead of a food mill?

  6. johanna says:

    i have been using my seasonal tomato glut to put
    up sauce for years. it is the best fresh taste of summer in
    the middle of winter. i cook different vegs with each batch.
    hot chiles and onions for quick mexican, and lots of
    basil for pastas. i use an old timey food mill to
    remove seeds and skins, giving me a juicy sauce to slow-
    cook down thicker before canning. sometimes i keep the
    juice in quart jars ( not cooked down) in fridge to
    swig on in summer. i am eager to try them
    half dried in oil…i have preserved peppers in
    vinegar/oil and they are great for pizza. plus their liquid
    is a pretty good salad dressing.
    sorry, i am long-winded about tomatoes, but i love them.

  7. Caroline says:

    HI, I have just found your recipe for the chutney while doing a google search and have been on the hunt for an inspired recipe which I believe this is, especially with the addition of black onion seeds ..can’t wait to get cracking!

    The only question I have is as to storage…how long will this chutney last?? And how long is it best to leave it to mature to its full potential??

    Am a newbie to preserving but reeaaallly want to give it a go so any response from you would be sooooo reassuring!!!!


  8. Gina says:

    I;ve been sterilizing my jars by washing out and then half filling with water and boiling the water in the jars in the microwave oven for about 5-10 minutes. I s this unsafe?

  9. Andrea says:

    Got some oven dried tomatoes on the go at the moment, they were very ripe and are taking around 4 hours to dry. Just would like some confirmation on how long they will keep in the olive oil, will they last long enough to give for Christmas presents? Found you when doing a search for fresh bolotti bean ideas and what a treat your website is. Shall be a frequent visitor!!

  10. Madalene says:

    Dear Andrea,
    A glut means an abundances off, having a lot of one particular item and in my case I had so much tomatoes I had to cook several recipes with it.

    Hope it makes sense,

    Happy Cooking,

  11. Andrea says:

    Just found your site and love it! One problem- I’m from the US and have no idea what a “glut” is… haha silly!

  12. Madalene says:

    HI Jo,

    The chutney will last about 6 – 8 months. It’s yum and very handy to have in your kitchen larder. Stir a large spoon full through a pasta salad or serve a portion alongside a delicious ploughman’s or in a sandwich.

    Happy Cooking


  13. jo says:

    Wow, looking forward to transforming my own tomato’s into your chutney – it sounds fantastic!

    Just one question, how long will it last in a sterlized container?

    Many thanks,


  14. Nancy Day says:


    I use a thermomix to make all my tomatoe sauces, sweet chille sauce, and barbarcue sauces. I too have a large vegetable garden, and it is just the best thing to be able to pick all your vegetables and herbs, to put in your cooking. the taste is so good as aposed to bought products.
    And my thermomix is the best kitchen product in he world. I can’t live without it.
    I make all my own bread with spelt grain, butter with fresh natural cream, all my spreads, jams, chutney’s, cakes, yoghurt, ice-cream, sorbets, dips, salads and salad dressings. We just don’t buy any processed foods at all any more.
    And I feel so good for it.

    Have a great day

    Nancy Day
    Port Douglas Qld 4877 Australia

  15. jill says:

    great sounding recipes but one small problem for me is I live in france and you can’t get white wine vinegar!

  16. Madalene says:

    Dear Sue,

    Your sauce should be fine in either the fridge or a cool dark cupboard.

    Happy Cooking


  17. sue says:

    please can you reassure me that I have bottled my tomatoe sauce correctly. I have sterilized the jars properly put the sauce in, placed a grease proof disc directly on the sauce and then placed a dampened plastic disc on the top of the jar with an elastic band and then put the metal lid on. Is my sauce now going to keep stored in the cupboard or does it have to be kept in the fridge.

  18. Brenda says:

    Tomato sauce sounds brill,but not sure what is meant by food mill?Would it be ok to pass everything through seive or would you put into blender?Would love to try this recipe as we have loads of tomatos on our allotment and they are huge!!!! variety is Fantasio,we bought the seed from Suttons,
    hope you can help with my query

  19. Madalene says:

    HI Brenda,

    The food mill refers to one of these items If you do not have one then blending is fine however the colour of your sauce will be a lighter orangy colour.

    Happy Cooking


  20. Madalene says:

    Hi Ems,

    The tomato sauce should keep for 6 months if you sterilise the bottles well and keep the bottles in a cool dark cupboard.
    It’s very handy and super delicious.

    Kind Regards

  21. Ems says:

    Wow, what a lovely website to stumble upon. I’m just about to start making the chutney but wondered how long the “tomato sauce for keeps” will keep for in a sterilised bottle/jar?

    Off to scour the site for more ideas. Lovely

  22. Madalene says:

    Hi Jane,

    You do not need to do that if you have sterilized the bottles well however for safety sake it will not harm.

    Happy Cooking

  23. jane says:

    lovely recipes! an inspiration! once the sauce is poured into the sterilised jars do you have to boil the jars on top on the stove?

  24. Carol says:

    Looking forward to making Tomato Ginger and Sultana chutney tomorrow – looks yummie..,.do I leave the skins on the toms???

  25. Madalene says:

    HI Jon,

    It’s will last for at least two weeks in the fridge once opened and sealed in the sterilized jar it will keep for up to a year in a dark and well ventilated cupboard.

    Happy Cooking

  26. jon taylor says:

    Just made the chutney how long will it last unopened and once opened thankyou it tastes great

  27. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the delicious chutney recipe ! I’ve prepared some to use up the tomatoes from my Mum’s garden. Everybody loved it ! I’ve just been given more tomatoes from my neighbour, so I will be busy again this weekend. Might try the sauce as well.

    For the person who couldn’t find white wine vinegar in France, I used “vinaigre de vin rouge a l’echalote” and it works just fine.

    Thanks again !

  28. Madalene says:

    HI Gill,

    Yes it will, if you push the sauce through using a plastic scraper/ spoon.
    Happy Cooking

  29. Gill says:

    Hi, really want to make this sauce but I don’t have a food mill.
    Will a colander do the job?

  30. Sue says:

    Is it essential to pass the sauce through a sieve. I always leave the skins in sauces I make and use immediately.

    Thank you.

  31. I should really be getting on with some work but this blog about
    Tomato Chutney Recipe, Bottled Tomato Sauce for Keeps Recipe and Semi-Dried Tomato Recipe by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, Founder of The British Larder – The British Larder is great

  32. Sarah says:

    I’m going to have a bash at the tomato sauce – it looks great and I’ve got 1.5kg of ripe toms from my growbag!

    Do I need proper preserving jars or will old jam jars etc do – as long as I’ve sterilised them?



  33. Sammy says:

    What a wonderful blog, which i cam across searching tom chutney recipes, via google.

    I have made 6 jars of the chutney and 8 of the sauce, and currently have 4 racks of toms, drying in the oven.

    a total of 10kg of plum toms (roma) with still some green ones on the vines.

    I usually make my toms to make tins of chopped or whole plum toms, and freeze them, bbut as we are moving shortly, i wanted other methods of keeping my tomatoes.

    And Margaret has come up trumps.

    THank you.

  34. vickie says:

    I dont have onion seeds,will that matter, also if I use a water bath will it keep longer.

  35. Angela says:

    Its definitely that time of year! Here in Provence, they’re practically giving away the tomatoes in the market, I made a delicious spicy salsa with mine, great with barbecue lamb and couscous for those last sunny days……

  36. Star says:

    Having the same dilemma here (Ontario, Canada) — what to do with a glut of tomatoes ripening at the same time and more ready soon in my small vegetable garden, also over-planted with a few varieties — tasty gold coloured, cherry-size Sweet Gold, and large Lemon Boy, and red plum Roma VF, cherry-size Tiny Tim, and large Early Girl. Your recipes are so appreciated! The Tomato, Ginger and Sultana Chutney sounds delicious! I will be making it and the Tomato Sauce and Semi-dried Tomato recipes with my harvest! Thank you!

  37. kim walden says:

    OMG what a fabulous recipe for Tomato,ginger and sultana relish. have had a glut of tomatos this year alxl shapes and varieties. Added home grown chillies and extra cumin and ginger and the result is spectacular. . . . . . .cant wait for christmas and cold turkey and bubble and squeak. But also cant wait for a ham,sausage,or chicken sandwich to add relish to.

  38. Michele in France says:

    26 March 2012 – just opened our first jar of last autumn’s Tomato, Ginger and Sultana chutney and it’s wonderful – started eating it with a spoon all on it’s own but then had the self restraint to stop. Would be really good with a curry and jast would make really good presents for people you really like.

  39. mm says:

    I have all the above useful ideas but I would like a recipe for bottling tomatoes whole. Is this possible?

  40. Madalene says:

    Hi Monica,

    What a good idea!? My mother used to do the following. She blanched the tomatoes in hot boiling water for 30 seconds, then dunk them in ice water, peel the skins then she packed them laying down in a food plastic bag about 12 in a bag and freeze them laying flat. When she needed them for stews of tomato sauces she would take them out of the freezer and cook.

    Hope this help.

    Best wishes,

  41. Madalene says:

    Dear Barbara,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I agree and for that reason recommend to keep them in the fridge.

    Thank you for sharing.

  42. Barbara Phillips says:

    Although tomatoes are an acid fruit, there may still be a risk of botulism if kept in an anaerobic environment (in oil).

    Botulism spores are resistant to the heating that is recommended in this recipe. For food to be handled like this, it must be acidified to prevent botulism spores germinating in the anaerobic conditions.

  43. Paul L says:

    I grow large Beefsteak type tomatoes which are really nice stuffed. To freeze them, I hollow them out, chop up the insides together with garlic cloves and basil leaves (also chopped small.) I re-stuff the tomatoes and bake them all. After having a couple each with a steak meal we pack the remainder into small portion containers and freeze..
    To use them we simply defrost, heat them thoroughly add to hot pasta and mix it up well. They can also be added to a Ragu for lasagne etc.

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