Fresh, homegrown tomatoes are best used fresh or for canning. But what if you did that and still have a bunch leftover? Here are 11 ways to use them up!
Tomato season is right around the corner. There’s nothing better than getting them fresh and ripe off the vine. But what do you do when you have too many? I always get 20-30 plants, thinking I won’t have enough, then BAM! Tomato overload!
11 Unusual Ways to Use Tomatoes
There are several brands of cosmetics that use tomatoes in their skincare products, and for a good reason. They are chock full of vitamin C, one of the antioxidants that help to keep skin healthy. You can either use tomato juice as part of your facial toner, using it for the water portion. This will need to be kept in the refrigerator or make new each time. Or you can distill the juice. I’ll explain a simple distillation process below.
We all know that if your dog tangles with a skunk that you can bathe him in tomato juice and the smell will be neutralized. You can use this same theory on clothes and shoes. Make a spray from tomato juice (ok for darker clothes) or distilled tomato juice (for lighter clothes). Spray your clothes or shoes, leave them overnight, then wash and dry as usual.
Whether it’s the vitamin C or some other compound, tomatoes can help your hair to be clean and shiny. Simply mash some up, apply to your hair, let sit 20 minutes or so, and wash out. Super simple!
If you have age spots or other areas of your skin that you want to lighten, grab a tomato! You can mash them or use a slice. Apply the tomato to the area that you want to lighten, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Wash off and moisturize if needed. You may need to do this a few times to see the results you want.
We all know how expensive sun-dried tomatoes are, but we still love them! you can make your own very easily. Slice them fairly thick, around 1/3 of an inch. Half an inch is better. Place on a piece of parchment paper that has been brushed with oil (like olive oil) and place this on a baking sheet. The tomatoes can be crowded together, just leave a small gap so they don’t stick together. Place in a sunny spot for a few hours, use a solar dehydrator or dry in the oven for 30 minutes or so at a low temperature, like 200°f. Different varieties take different amounts of time, so it may not take as long, but it could take longer. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
You can use tomatoes to get the effect of a mild chemical peel by using them as an exfoliant. Mash a tomato and apply to your face and neck. Don’t forget your neck! You can use this on your chest as well. Leave on for 20 minutes or so and then wash off. Similar to the toner above, vitamin C has a chance to get into your skin more and the fruit acids can help to remove dead skin cells. Follow with a facial moisturizer.
Tomatoes are over 80% water, so they can help provide your skin with moisture from the inside! This makes them, along with melons and apples, a great source of water to help stay hydrated. I have a hard time drinking plain water, but eating tomatoes is a snap!
You can certainly harvest the seeds from ripe tomatoes, but I have a much easier way. Simply slice a tomato in several slices, place the slices on top of the soil in a pot and cover lightly with more soil. Water well and place in a sunny spot. New plants will sprout in a week or so. When they are large enough, transfer to new pots and enjoy your new tomato plants!
Slice and bake tomatoes until dry, or use a dehydrator. When they are crispy, grind in a spice grinder or coffee mill. Store in a tightly sealed jar. Use this for skincare recipes, as above, culinary recipes or even in soap!
Tomatoes can be used to help take the sting out of sunburn. Simply mash and apply liberally to the burn area and leave on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off and apply a moisturizer. The last time I tried this, the redness went away quickly and the pain was gone overnight.
When you distill something, you take only the goodness away, leaving behind the bulk of what you are distilling. Usually, flowers are done this way, like roses and lavender, but you can use tomatoes too. You’ll need tomatoes, of course, distilled water, a large non-reactive pot, like stainless steel, the lid for the pot, a large bowl for the bottom, a smaller bowl (I use glass for these) and some ice.
How to Distill Tomatoes
Cut them and place them into the pot. Cover with water, no more than half full. Place the larger bowl upside down in the mixture. Place the smaller bowl right side up on top of the larger bowl. Place the lid on the pot, upside down. Heat until it starts to simmer. When you see the steam starting on the inside of the pot, place ice in the “bowl” of the lid. This will help to condense the steam into droplets that will fall back into the smaller bowl. This is your distilled tomato water.
You can buy a distiller online from Amazon or eBay. I have this nice stainless steel one that was less than $100.
Do you have an unusual use for tomatoes? Tell us about it!
- J. Nutr. Dietary tomato paste protects against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans. May 2001.