How & Why to Freeze Tomatoes: Preserving Your Harvest
Picture this: it’s the middle of Summer. Your kitchen counter is overflowing with tomatoes and the harvests just keep coming. You’ve made sun dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, fresh tomato salads, given away bags to neighbors, and you are just too tired to do anything else. It’s sweltering outside, and the thought of working over a hot stove all day makes sweat bead on your forehead.
What if I told you that you could simply bag up all those tomatoes and be done with them? No waste, no heat, no peeling, and you’ll have tomatoes in the cold of Winter! Yes, it is possible.
Why Freeze Your Tomatoes?
♦ It is sooooo easy! It literally takes minutes.
♦ If the garden is only producing a few tomatoes at a time, this is a great way to stock up so you can make a big batch of tomato sauce once you have enough tomatoes!
♦ No blanching or peeling required!
♦ Frozen tomatoes are easier to peel than fresh tomatoes, so when you go to make a sauce or stew in Winter, there is a lot less preparation involved!
→ frozen tomatoes have a different texture. They are excellent for soups, stews, purees, or any recipe that might call for a can of diced tomatoes. If you are looking for a tomato for slicing or eating fresh, don’t freeze them.
How to Freeze
Harvest your tomatoes.
Wash and dry (I just let them sit on a dish towel for a bit or quickly wipe them dry).
Remove green stem parts from the tomatoes.
Inspect for bad spots and cut them away. You don’t want to have any moldy areas or rotting areas with your tomatoes (it should also be said that tomatoes should be disease free).
Pack your tomatoes in a single layer into a freezer safe ziploc bag.
Remove as much air as possible. I just squeeze out as much as I can (tip: I’ve seen people close up the bag and then open it just enough to stick a straw in and suck out the air).
Label your bag with the contents and date.
Store in your freezer.
Tomatoes can last up to 6 months when stored airtight in the freezer.
*This method works best for larger tomatoes (cherry tomatoes can be difficult to deal with after defrosting because of the skins, but you could always defrost them and strain out the skins at some point).
How to Defrost & Use
When you want to use your frozen tomatoes, simply remove the bag from the freezer. You can dump the tomatoes into a bowl. As they defrost (which can take 30 minutes or so) the skins will literally slip off.
Remove the skins and use those tomatoes for your recipe! Once defrosted, the tomatoes can be used in any recipe that might call for crushed tomatoes, whole canned tomatoes, tomato puree, etc. Basically any recipe that does not require freshly sliced tomatoes that hold onto a shape.
I love being able to pull out a bag of frozen tomatoes in Winter and make a huge pot of tomato sauce. Ooh that summer flavor! Nothing compares to the sweetness of summer-ripened tomatoes.
PS: Use my hashtag #FreckledCA on Instagram if you want to share your garden-to-table adventures!
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