Alibi V.17 No.37 • Sept 11-17, 2008 

Ask Chef Boy Ari

Tomato, Tomorrow

Dear Ari,

My tomato plants are going off, and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit I've still got tons frozen from last year. I don't want to ditch the old ones, especially after putting so much into processing them. But I don't feel like messing around with them when I have so many freshies. Can I just leave them in the freezer and eat them this winter instead of freezing more this year?

—Too Many Maters

A: First of all, TMM, the time and effort you put into those tomatoes last year means absolutely nothing. Like a dog, you must clear your mind of what's done and run forward into the future. If your frozen tomatoes remain in good shape, then use them, and use them soon, because they may not last much longer. If they're already freezer-burned or otherwise disgusting, then feed them to the chickens, the compost pile or, if possible, George W. Bush.

Assuming they’re still in good shape, use your frozen tomatoes liberally in most anything you're cooking. When making breakfast, for example, add some frozen tomatoes to the pan soon after the bacon starts to sizzle (don't bother thawing them first). Cook over medium heat. Tomatoes hold lots of water; when that water's almost gone, add some chopped onions and garlic and some form of hot spice, like pickled peppers or hot sauce. Add some beaten eggs a few minutes later. Scramble the eggs, eat them and love it. Or add those frozen tomatoes to a stew, to a lamb leg that's slowly braising or to a pot of green chile. Or make pasta sauce. Those frozen tomatoes will disappear into just about anything, and you can save your fresh tomatoes for raw applications.

Send your food and garden queries to flash@flashinthepan.net.