Some of you may still be bringing in those late-summer tomatoes and thinking, “What am I supposed to do with this many tomatoes?” I mean, a person can only eat them so fast, right? Stop stuffing yourself and save them for a rainy/cold/snowy day! Imagine how delish your winter soups and sauces will taste with those vine-ripened, summer tomatoes! While we’re grateful that hothouse tomatoes exist–I mean, who could go nine months of the year without a tomato?–we all know that they just don’t taste as good as a tomato grown out in the sunshine during the summer months. The taste of sun-ripened tomatoes really can’t be imitated or beaten. So, carry that taste into the winter months by preserving your extras!
When most people think of preserving tomatoes, they think of canning–a long, arduous process that takes a lot of time and energy. But have you ever considered freezing your tomatoes instead? It’s faster and easier, and you still get that summer taste in the cold months! What are you waiting for? Get your tomatoes ready!
Here’s how you do it:
You want ripe, but not overripe tomatoes for freezing, meaning that you want the tomatoes to be ripe but still firm. Once you’ve selected your mateys, wash them and dry them. Now, you’re ready to freeze!
You can freeze tomatoes in a couple of different ways–with skin or without, whole, sliced, chopped, pureed, in sauce, etc. Tomatoes are very versatile in freezers. We’re going to focus on freezing them peeled and unpeeled. To freeze whole, unpeeled tomatoes, just cut away the stem scar, put them on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer. You don’t have to blanch tomatoes before freezing. When the tomatoes are frozen, put them in freezer bags or other containers and seal them up. When you want to use them, simply take out as many as you need and run them (still frozen) under warm water, then peel them. The peel should come right off. You can use them in any sauces you’d like, but note that their texture will be more mushy than when they were fresh. They are best used in sauces, etc. after they’ve been frozen.
If you want to freeze peeled tomatoes, dip them in boiling water for about a minute (or until the skins split) and they will peel very easily. At that point, you can either freeze them whole, chop, puree, etc. them and freeze the same way as above. If you want to stew your tomatoes first, cook them for 10 to 20 minutes (or until tender), then cool the pan by placing it in another pan of cold water. Fill your containers (but leave some headspace), then seal them and put them in the freezer!
To get the most (and the most time) out of your frozen tomatoes, use containers and bags that are intended for freezing and store them at the back (the coldest part) of the freezer. The freezer temperature should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, and frozen veggies shouldn’t ideally be frozen for more than 8 months–that’s just enough time to get you to the next tomato season! Happy freezing, folks!