Tomatoes and Basil: Keep them tasty!

This is the second in our newsletter series from StopWaste about delicious ways to use foods that might otherwise end up in the compost. You’ll also find food storage tips and a recipe from StopWaste
in our Fall issue.

Tomatoes and basil are a happy couple. Raw or cooked, basil uniquely complements the sweet-tangy flavor of ripe tomatoes.

To keep cut basil full and fresh, trim the stems and place the sprigs in a jar with 1–2 inches of water, just like cut flowers. Basil is sensitive to cold, so place the jar on the counter, not the fridge, but away from direct sunlight.

If the tomatoes you bought could use a few more days to become ready to eat, store them vine-side down on the countertop. Once ripe, transfer them to the refrigerator.

Overwhelmed by your garden’s crop of tomatoes? Preserve your surplus harvest! Our simple and quick tomato sauce recipe makes a great base for pasta sauces, soups, and stews, and it freezes really well. Later this year, when days are gray and your garden is dormant, you’ll be reaching for that flavor of summer! 

Bumper Crop Tomato Basil Sauce
Use firm ripe tomatoes, any amount

Per each 4 cups chopped raw tomatoes you’ll need:
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped basil (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Wash tomatoes, cut out the stems with a paring knife, and compost the stems. Cut tomatoes in halves or quarters, making sure all pieces are similar in size. Note: You can remove the skins and seeds if desired, but it’s not strictly necessary, since the skins and most of the seeds will become smooth as you purée in the blender.

Place cut tomatoes into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer for another 20–25 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce and intensify in flavor.  

Remove from heat. Stir in basil and tomato paste (to thicken). Let cool.

Ladle into a blender and purée in batches to desired texture. Then pour into freezer-safe containers or freezer bags and label with the date before freezing. Use within 4–6 months.

For more tips and easy-to-follow recipes that prevent food waste and make the most of food you already have, visit, a project by Alameda County public agency StopWaste.

Content sponsored by StopWaste.
Photos: Courtesy of StopWaste.