When most people think about how to preserve tomatoes, images of spending hours in the kitchen, sweating over a hot pot of boiling water, during the dog days of summer appear. However, this year, it is time to take a new look on how to save those tomatoes before they go bad. In fact, preserving tomatoes is actually one of the easiest things that you will ever do!
It seems like we wait all of June and most of July to watch the transformation of that one green tomato to turn red. And before we know it, in just a few weeks, we are inundated with baskets of ripe tomatoes that we don’t know what to do with. Yes, the first batch of salsa was easy, and a few days later the pasta sauce was made. But all of a sudden, life happens. There is school shopping to be done, picnics to attend, and of course work that prevents you from keeping up with those ripening tomatoes. Before you know it, one garden picking day can result in several baskets of tomatoes.
Although we typically can tomatoes in various sauces and as diced tomatoes, this year is different. We are freezing most produce from the garden out of sheer necessity, but we are finding that sometimes it is so much easier, and less time-consuming than the canning process. Of course, this all depends on how much freezer space that you have available.
If you are overwhelmed with the amount of tomatoes that you have or if you want to preserve tomatoes for use in sauces and soups over the winter, freezing is the key. No, you will not have that firm texture of a fresh picked tomato, but most tomatoes are used as a base for something else anyway.
So here are a few ways you can preserve tomatoes using the freezer:
Preserve Tomatoes Using The Freezer
FREEZE TOMATOES WHOLE – (skin and all) It doesn’t get any easier than this! You can actually pick tomatoes, wash them off and freeze them whole. Just put them in an air tight container and use them as you need them throughout the year.
FREEZE TOMATOES WITHOUT THE SKIN – yes, you could blanch them in boiling water for a minute and dip them in a cold ice water bath to remove the skin, but there is an easier way! Cut the stem end off of the tomato and place tomatoes on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. After they freeze (1-3 hours) run them under cold water and the skins will fall off! No more scalding water splashing on your skin. Freeze in an air tight container.
FREEZE TOMATO HALVES, QUARTERS, OR DICED TOMATOES: follow the same process as above for removing the skins, cut as desired and freeze in an air tight container in sections most likely to be used in your recipes.
We love to dice our tomatoes and store them in both 32 ounce and 15 ounce packages.
FREEZE PUREED TOMATOES – Remove stem and any bad areas from the tomato and place large chunks in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times to desired consistency and place puree in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 10-12 hours or until reduced and thickened to desired consistency.
Freeze puree in desired quantities. **We usually add the puree to our slow cooker in the evening and let it cook overnight. We then freeze it after it cools when we get home from work.
If you need more ideas on how to use up all those tomatoes, check out the article: Our Best Tomato Recipes
Mary and Jim
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