Freezing your favorite fruits and vegetables is an easy way to preserve that fresh, delicious taste throughout the year. Whether you want to know how to freeze asparagus or bananas, you want to ensure you are using the proper techniques to retain flavor and texture. When it comes to freezing tomatoes, the ideas for what you can do with them are limitless.
Spaghetti sauces for Italian dishes and spicy chilis for Tex Mex cuisine are all tasty additions to our food sources that last much longer in our freezers than they do on the vine. While we may have access to these veggies all year round in a supermarket, there are plenty of reasons to freeze them at home. Some homeowners grow tomatoes plants in their garden and seek to extend the fruits of their harvest by saving as much food for later as they can.
Even if you don’t have a garden in your backyard, some grocery deals are too good to pass up, and you end up with more tomatoes than you know what to do with in your kitchen. Freezing small quantities is simple. These steps will show you the best way to freeze tomatoes for food preservation.
Can You Freeze Tomatoes? Everything You Need to Know
Freezing tomatoes means you get to extend the shelf life of your vegetables by several months. That’s right. They will last for up to ten months in the freezer and are easier to prepare than when canning tomatoes.
What are the benefits of freezing tomatoes?
While most credit canned tomatoes for retaining firmer textures and a stronger tomato flavor, freezing is an excellent way to preserve tomatoes intended for chilis, sauces, and soups. Freezing tomatoes also requires minimal equipment and far less time and effort.
When canning whole tomatoes, or even sliced ones, a water bath is necessary to preserve them safely. A large quantity of vegetables is also needed to successfully can them. Freezing is much more convenient for people with small harvests or who don’t have access to a water bath.
Is there a method for how to freeze tomatoes? What about other fruits and veggies?
When canning fruits and veggies, it’s common to mix different items for use in stews and other menu ideas. A sliced apple may pair well with apricots or melons to form jams, for instance, but this is not the case with freezing. Freezing requires most fruits and vegetables to be preserved separately to retain their firmness and taste.
Because fresh tomatoes might lose their flavor in the process, you don’t want to mix them with any other fruits or veggies. Especially when it comes to freezing bananas, which are frozen a little more on the mushy side, you don’t want to risk any extra moisture that would make the tomato lose texture.
It may also be tempting to freeze them with ingredients they pair with for meals. For example, freezing tomatoes with mozzarella cheese may seem like a great way to expedite the chili making process. Now you may be questioning: can you freeze mozzarella cheese in the first place?
While you can freeze both items, you don’t want to ruin their consistency by freezing them together. Freeze separately, thaw separately, but cook together.
Follow this Step by Step Process for Freezing Tomatoes
Your first step is getting your tasty tomatoes prepped for packaging, no matter whether you plan to keep the skins on them or not. Choose fresh, ripe tomatoes that are firm and free from bruising. Wash them thoroughly, then remove the cores.
1. Prepare the Tomatoes for Blanching or Packaging
If you plan on removing the skin, lightly carve an “X” at the bottom of the tomato. Once the tomatoes heat up, the skin will expand, and so will the mark you made at the bottom. Doing this will make peeling away the skin even more effortless.
2. Blanch the Tomatoes and Remove the Skins
To blanch tomatoes, leave them in boiling water first then quickly dunk them in ice water to make it easier to peel them and preserve more of the flavoring and texture than simply tossing it into the freezer. Boil the tomatoes in water for approximately two minutes.
Directly afterward, plunge them into a cold bath of water using a slotted spoon to transfer them. Wait for the tomatoes to cool and harden back up again before removing the peels.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters, cubes, or however you like. Freezing whole tomatoes also works, especially when freezing small cherry tomatoes. Place them in a large pot, crushing them up a little bit to expel some of the juices.
Add some warm water to the mix and bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat, and let the tomatoes simmer for around five minutes.
If you don’t want a different option for preserving your tomatoes, step three will show you the next best method. Otherwise, skip ahead to step four.
3. How Can You Freeze Tomatoes without Blanching?
If you don’t want to blanch your tomatoes, the next best thing is to remove as much juice as possible before freezing. Peel the tomatoes, then use a strainer or colander to squeeze any liquid into a glass.
This also removes most of the seeds, and the juice can be used for other cooking projects. For the best way to can tomato juice, use the provided link.
You may also be wondering, can I freeze tomatoes without the skins? If you want to keep the tomato skins on, cut the tomatoes up and lay them down on a cookie sheet with the outer surface facing down against the pan.
This won’t work as well for freezing tomatoes whole, though. Cover these tomatoes with plastic wrap before moving on to step four.
4. Package the Tomatoes in Freezer Containers or Ziploc Bags
Now that you’ve cut and prepped your tomatoes, it’s time for the actual freezing. No matter how you choose to get them ready for the freezer, use either a freezer container or Ziploc freezer bag to store them properly.
If using a plastic container, fill the jar up until there is only one inch of headspace remaining. Seal the container, then place it in the freezer.
If using freezer bags, make sure all the air is out before sealing it. Some homeowners use a straw to suck out excess air and create a type of vacuum seal.
For tomatoes that have not been skinned or blanched, remove them from the baking sheet and place them in the freezer bags in a single layer. Package them with the plastic wrap still on them and remove as much air as possible before sealing. This will also prevent freezer burn.
5. How to Store Tomatoes when Freezing
Storing tomatoes is simple. The most important part is to label the packages and containers with the date they were initially frozen. This label will let you know whether or not the tomatoes are still good enough to eat.
In some cases, it also reminds you that you only have so long before the tomatoes expire. If you need additional help remembering your frozen foods, keep the tomatoes closer to the front of the freezer or on the door. This will keep them in easy view and lower the risk of you forgetting about them months later.
6. How to Thaw Frozen Tomatoes to Cook with Them
When thawing your frozen tomatoes, you have options. Most whole tomatoes take over one hour to thaw at room temperature, but you can also use a microwave to defrost them quickly.
If you have time to thaw them out overnight, place them in the refrigerator for a nice smooth transition back from the freezing temperatures. With smaller, chopped tomatoes, you can also plop them right into the skillet and thaw them while you cook.
Try My Favorite Recipe with Frozen Tomatoes to Make Scrumptious, Sweet and Spicy Chili
Now that you have your stock of frozen tomatoes, you need a spectacular new recipe to use them. One alternative is chili. Below is my favorite recipe with frozen tomatoes, which has a little bit of everything for your family.
Brown the ground beef in a pot along with the chopped onions and garlic. Drain the meat, then add in the remaining ingredients. Before adding the canned beans, rinse and drain them ahead of time.
Mix the ingredients until thoroughly blended, then let it simmer for approximately 30 minutes, checking the mixture and stirring periodically. Leaving the chili on longer will enhance the flavor, so don’t be afraid to let it stew for another 10 or 15 minutes if necessary. Remove bay leaves when finished. This meal makes approximately 20 servings.
Now that you are practically an expert on how to freeze your yummy tomatoes, nothing is stopping you from saving this household favorite for later use. Freezing tomatoes means more sauces and chilis for you in the future. And if you have the freezer space, why not save up as much of that delicious flavor as you can?
With any luck, our article on what to do with your tasty tomatoes is just what you needed. If so, don’t forget to share all the ways freezing tomatoes tickles your friends’ and family’s taste buds on Facebook and Pinterest.