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Freezing Tomatoes

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Tomatoes on ice.

If you are unsure what to do with a bumper crop of tomatoes, freezing them is an excellent way to preserve them for later in the year. This is a guide about freezing tomatoes.

Solutions: Freezing Tomatoes

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Article: Freezing Tomatoes

Selecting High-Quality Tomatoes:

Tomatoes will not be solid once thawed, but they do freeze well for use as sauces, juice, pastes or purées. Select firm, ripe tomatoes with deep red color. When purchasing tomatoes, try to select fruits that are mature, but not fully ripe. You'll get the longest storage time if you finished ripening it at home. Look for varieties labeled "vine-ripened." Unlike some varieties, you can be sure these have been picked only after reaching maturity (tomatoes are often picked while still green because they are more resistant to crushing during transport). Tomatoes should feel smooth, firm and heavy for their size. Avoid tomatoes that show excessive cracking or bruising.

Preparing for Freezing:

Wash and dip in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins. Core and peel. Tomatoes can also be frozen whole or in pieces with skin still intact.

Best Freezing Method(s):

Raw Tomatoes

Freeze whole or in pieces. Pack into suitable containers, leaving l-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

Tomato Juice

Cut washed and cored tomatoes into quarters or eighths. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Press through a sieve. If desired, season with 1 teaspoon salt to each quart of juice. Pour into suitable containers leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

Stewed Tomatoes

Remove stem ends, peel and quarter ripe tomatoes. Cover and cook until tender (10 to 20 minutes depending on size). Place pan containing tomatoes in cold water to cool. Pack into suitable containers leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

Suitable Packaging:

Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should provide protection against absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing tomatoes includes freezer grade-plastic bags, rigid plastic containers and glass containers.

Maximum Storage Time:

10 to 12 months at 0ºF.

Thawing:

Thaw tomato products in the refrigerator, stove top or defrost them in the microwave according to your manufacturer's recommendations.

Tips & Shortcuts:

If you need a tomato to ripen fast, store it in a paper bag or a covered bowl with an apple. Apples give off an ethylene gas that will speed up the ripening process. One bad tomato can quickly spoil the others. Discard tomatoes showing signs of mold before it spreads to other fruits.

Refrigerating Tomatoes:

Tomatoes keep best when not stored in the refrigerator. Store them at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, until ripe enough for eating. Cooked tomatoes can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Freezing Whole Tomatoes

All we do with them is rinse them off and blot dry, Put in Ziplock bags and freeze. To use them, I drop into hot liquid, and use my Chinese spider strainer to pull out of broth, slip off skins and core or not. Then I drop them back into sauce, or what ever I am using them for and continue to cook. Works like a charm.

By Connie from Ballwin, Missouri

Article: Freezing Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Selecting High-Quality Tomatoes:

Freezing radically alters the texture of tomatoes, but they can still be used successfully in certain recipes after freezing. Select firm, undamaged green tomatoes.

Preparing for Freezing:

Wash, core, and slice in 1/4 or 1/2 -inch thick slices.

Best Freezing Methods(s):

  • For Frying: To freeze green tomatoes for frying, pack tomato slices into containers and separate them with wax paper or freezer wrap. Leave 1/2-inch headspace. Whole, Peeled or

  • Unpeeled Tomatoes: Wash and core tomatoes. If desired, dip tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds and plunge into cold water to easily remove skins. Place tomatoes on cookie sheets in freezer. Once frozen, transfer to plastic bags, seal, label and freeze.

  • Strained Puree or Juice: Wash, core and cut tomatoes into quarters. Puree in food processor or run through hand-cranked strainer. Pack in suitable containers, seal, label and freeze.

Suitable Packaging:

Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should provide protection against absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing green tomatoes includes freezer-grade plastic bags, rigid plastic containers or glass containers and heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Maximum Storage Time:

10 to 12 months at 0ºF.

Thawing:

Thaw tomatoes in the refrigerator or at room temperature in a bag or bowl to contain juices.

Tips & Shortcuts:

Transfer tomatoes for frying directly from the freezer right to the frying pan for cooking. Letting them thaw first results in a loss of quality (and a real mess!).

Refrigerating Green Tomatoes:

Tomatoes should not be stored at temperatures below 50º. Store them at room temperature, stems down, wrapped individually in newspaper or layered in a box with adequate air circulation. Store for 3 to 5 weeks.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Turn Fresh Tomatoes Into Quick & Easy Dinners

Tomatoes on the VineMost of us know that planting a garden is one of the cheapest ways to provide your family with fresh vegetables. My husband is the chief gardener in our household, and since it is his domain, he gets to decide what to plant. Let me tell you right away that he loves fresh tomatoes. I, on the other hand, hate tomatoes and have not eaten a raw tomato in over thirty years. Imagine my amazement when he strategically placed 16 tomato plants in our garden! It gets worse, each of those plants thrived and grew over six feet tall! That's a lot of tomatoes! The kitchen is my domain, so it became my task to figure out what to do with his abundant harvest.

Now, I know I said I don't like tomatoes, but I do like spaghetti sauce, chili and soup. I could have canned the tomatoes for use in the sauces; but I hate canning. It's hot, messy and time consuming. We decided to try freezing the tomatoes. Together we peeled them and started dicing and chopping them in a blender. Then we poured the chopped tomatoes and juice into gallon-size freezer bags, labeled them and placed them in the freezer. Freezer bags work well because you can lay them flat and they don't take up very much room in the freezer.

Then we got creative and began personalizing each bag for later use. For chili sauce, we added fresh chopped onions and peppers to the tomatoes before freezing. For spaghetti sauce, we went one step further and added chopped garlic. Vegetable soup sauce became a mixture of tomatoes, onions, and fresh herbs from our little herb garden. Sometimes we added chopped broccoli and other vegetables to the soup base.

We also make a garden salsa using the same methods, but drain the juice from the blended tomatoes. It keeps well, and we always have a fresh and healthy snack or dish to take to pot lucks, family gatherings, etc. Because we can season it to our tastes, we are sure to like it!

Ever since that time, I have never purchased a can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce, or spaghetti sauce. There is always a sauce ready to go in the freezer. It also tastes much better than commercial sauces. We just pull it out and simmer, adding any spices or meat necessary. It is a healthy and inexpensive way to have dinner partially prepared!

After a year or two, I even figured out how to effortlessly and inexpensively make vegetable soup. Leftover dinner vegetables are drained and placed in a freezer bag, sometimes even adding leftover roast to the bag. Once the bag is full, I pull it out and grab a bag or two of our frozen tomato mixture, throw them in a pot, add seasonings, and soup's on! This is by far the easiest and cheapest homemade meal I have ever made! Try it and see if you don't agree!

By Patti McKenna

Tip: Freeze Whole Tomatoes

If you have too many tomatoes from your garden, put them in a brown paper bag and put them in your freezer. When you are ready for your favorite tomato recipe, just take them out and run them under cold water. The skins will peel right off. Then just thaw them out and cook.

By PC from Salem, OR

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Questions

Here are questions related to Freezing Tomatoes.

Question: Re-Freezing Tomatoes

I want to make a fresh salsa, but need to freeze the ingredients as I get them. Once I have everything mixed together can I re-freeze everything in portion bags? I have a vacuum sealer that I plan on using for both processes. Ingredients will be fresh frozen tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. The tomatoes and peppers are the only two items I will need to re-freeze once everything has been put together. Please help! I don't want soggy ingredients.

By Dona


Most Recent Answer

By Alan B. [4]09/28/2013

I used to freeze my tomatoes (all colours & varieties) but when thawed and stewed they tasted different to fresh stewed tomatoes - not very nice.
I find that I prefer to fry them, I will try freezing some fried tomatos.
I tried frying green tomatoes but the taste and texture was so awful that I fed them to my chickens (they are less fussy than me).
I like fried RIPE tomatoes on toast.
I bought some heirloom seeds from the USA and all germinated. Unfortunately the outside ones got blight in the last few days.

RE: Re-Freezing Tomatoes

Question: Freezing Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

Could you please tell me if it is possible to freeze the yellow cherry tomatoes, and what do you do?

By Sue

Question: Freezing Tomatoes and Turnips

How do you freeze tomatoes and turnips?

By Jewel T. from Danville, VA


Most Recent Answer

10/26/2011

For the turnips, dice and water blanch for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to give them an immediate ice water bath after the blanching to stop the cooking process. Drain, pat and remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible to reduce freezer burn.

Question: Freezing Tomatoes

How do I freeze tomatoes?

By Vander


Most Recent Answer

By Kay09/07/2011

I've been cutting mine in half, then putting them on cookie sheets to flash freeze. When frozen, just put them in a plastic freezer bag. This way they don't all stick together and you can take out what you need. These will have to be used for cooking, though, and not in salads as they don't retain their firmness. To thaw, just heat in a little water and the skins slip right off. I just used some in fresh tomato soup last night! Yum!

Question: Freezing Stewed Tomatoes

Can stewed tomatoes be frozen?

By Geri B


Most Recent Answer

By Khan R. [5]08/26/2011

Yes, you can freeze the stewed tomatoes. But make sure you keep them in air tight container, and also if you defrost them once, don't freeze it again.

Question: Freezing Mountain Gold Tomatoes

This year, for the first time, I planted some some mountain gold tomatoes. Can I freeze these and if so how?

By Janice M

Question: Freezing Tomatoes

Which is best method for freezing tomatoes, whole with the skin on or chopped up with skin on? I wondered how the texture would be if they are left whole, and then I try to chop them up upon thawing?

By Beth


Most Recent Answer

By Rhoda Lange [4]08/18/2011

When I'm in a hurry, the skins are left on. I've frozen tomatoes for years, and prefer the skins OFF because the skins are tough after freezing. Blanching whole tomatoes for a few minutes in boiling water and plunging them into a sink of cold water removes the skins easily. It's also easier to chop the tomatoes before than when you're in a hurry and thawing them for a delectable dish. After the tomatoes thaw, they're soft in consistency.

Question: Freezing Tomatoes

I have 30 tomato plants after a 30 year lapse without a garden. Can I freeze my tomatoes in any way? Please give me some helpful hints.

By Becky B.


Most Recent Answer

By Lilac [18]08/05/2011

Yes you can. I saw it on TV a few weeks ago. You can freeze them in jars or bags and the show I watched didn't peel them. They cut them in half, stewed them a little while then places them in jars.

Question: Freezing Excess Tomatoes

To use up tomatoes, cook them gently, cool, and then freeze for winter stews, etc. Personally, I live on home grown tomatoes, zucchinis, onions, and mushrooms braised together as a side dish or topped with breadcrumbs and baked to have with a roast. In our family it's always cooked on Christmas day as another vegetable with the traditional roast.

Source: Paternal grandmother who many years ago taught me to cook (like 60).

By Jean from Maffra, Victoria, Australia