You Shouldn't Throw Away Overripe Tomatoes. Here's Why

If you're tossing away your mushy tomatoes, you're not only contributing to America's huge food waste problem — you're also doing yourself a grave disservice. Your overripe tomatoes are still useful, edible, and delicious, unless they've accumulated mold. In that case, you should toss the whole thing, according to the test kitchen at the Detroit Free Press. Or better yet, compost it.

But the question remains of what to do with your overripe tomatoes — the ones that aren't yet rotten, but have lost their firmness. They're no longer destined for a juicy Caprese salad, and they won't hold up very well in a BLT. That doesn't mean their beautiful little tomato lives are over.

There's a simple solution for your tomato-related woes: make a sauce. And we're not just talking about a red pasta sauce (though that does sound pretty nice). You can simmer your lovely, sweet tomatoes with garlic, salt, and olive oil — then, you can use the sauce as a base for other recipes. You can even throw it in your freezer and defrost it whenever, according to The New York Times. Convenience much?

A simple, slow-cooked tomato sauce can serve as a base for a pasta dish, a soup, or a risotto to start. You can add hot pasta water to make the sauce starchy, or mix in honey, garlic, and garam masala for a curry. Or, you could braise some meat in there. The options are excitingly endless, according to Bon Appétit's list of tomato-centric recipes.

Get jammy with your overripe tomatoes

When food writer and cookbook editor Francis Lam realized he had a lot of red bell peppers on hand, he decided simply to cook them down — basically allowing the sweet peppers to caramelize and soften into a spread for toast and sandwiches. You can avoid wasting your extra produce, and you create a new condiment in the meantime. Pretty genius (via The New York Times).

The same can be done with tomatoes: Enter tomato jam. The key is to cook your overripe tomatoes with salt, sugar, and an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. The additional seasonings are up to you — some cooks throw in fennel seeds, while others opt for cumin. The jam can be served on toast, sandwiches, or crackers, and it's perfect for pairing with mild Brie or Camembert. It even works as a sauce for grilled steak, according to The Kitchn.

And the great thing about jam? With some effort, it can be canned and preserved for months, according to Tasting Table. And let's be honest: Who doesn't want to enjoy tomato season just a little bit longer?