Dreading the end of summer tomato season? Try these four techniques that will allow you to enjoy prime-quality tomatoes all year long.

When it comes to summer produce, many consider tomatoes the absolute highlight of the season. These juicy, robust fruits make valuable additions to many a salad, sauce, soup, and condiment, but the relatively-short duration of their peak availability can be disappointing to the fresh tomato fans out there.

But with a bit of time, planning, and effort, it's entirely possible to save and preserve your summer tomatoes, making their appealing flavor accessible throughout the year. These four techniques highlight the stellar life tomatoes can lead once their vines have shriveled and frost has set in.

Peel and can your tomatoes for use in sauces, stews, soups

DIY canning and preserving projects dramatically grew in popularity during quarantine, with many first-time canners discovering (much to their relief) that the process, although time-consuming, isn't as difficult as they once assumed. It's also why some canning products are a bit hard to come by right now.

Peeling your summer tomatoes before canning will result in a smoother and more uniform texture, and it's an easy step: just bring a pot of water to a boil, add your tomatoes for about a minute to loosen the skins, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water to quickly cool, then slide the skins right off.

To effectively can your tomatoes, you'll need a large pot and a large bowl of ice water (or a pressure canner), some canning jars (Mason jars work well for this), and whichever seasonings you prefer (salt, lemon juice, and fresh basil, for example). Read our guide to canning fruits and vegetables for a full breakdown of the canning process.

Once canned, your whole summer tomatoes can be kept in a cool, dry place (like a cabinet or a storage pantry) for up to a year. If you'd like to use your summer tomatoes to make a marinara sauce or a salsa that you'll then can and enjoy in the future, that's also a viable option.

Tomato jam makes a beautiful sandwich spread or toast topper

Transforming your seasonal tomatoes into a jam allows you to appreciate their natural sweetness and acidity year-round in a spreadable, easy-to-eat format. The canning process used for whole tomatoes can also apply to jams, should you wish to store your unopened jam for several months.

If you'd prefer to enjoy the jam sooner rather than later, you can refrigerate unsealed jam jars for about a week or freeze them for up to two months.

This condiment is an ideal canvas for customization; feel free to add your favorite herbs and seasonings. Tomato jam works beautifully on crostini with ricotta, as a sandwich spread (try using it on a BLT), or as a topping for eggs.

Make "sun-dried tomatoes" in the oven, and store them in the freezer

As their name suggests, "sun-dried tomatoes" are typically made by allowing tomatoes to rest in direct sunlight until they dry out and adopt a chewy texture and a rich, condensed tomato flavor. This process can take several days to complete, but if you'd like a shortcut to making "sun-dried tomatoes" out of your summer yield, then look no further than your own oven.

By placing halved tomatoes (with seeds removed) on a baking sheet and allowing them to dry out in a preheated oven for about seven hours, you'll end up with perfectly "sun-dried" treats that you can stir into a pasta salad, add to a tapenade, bake into a focaccia, or even snack on right off the pan.

Homemade Tomato Juice Cocktail
Credit: France C

Tomato juice made from fresh summer tomatoes is also a freezer-friendly option

Got a juicer at home? Then you're prepared to whip up a batch of tomato juice, and using prime late-summer tomatoes for this purpose results in the most flavorful tomato juice imaginable.

This juice can be enjoyed as-is, but if you'd like to turn your summer tomato juice into a Bloody Mary mix, then you can also juice some celery and blend your juices with herbs, salt, and hot sauce. Tomato juice can be stored in freezer-safe plastic containers for several months, but if you'd like to freeze your juice in small quantities to use in future recipes, then try adding it to an ice cube tray.