Here’s what you need to know to freeze tomatoes:
Selecting Tomatoes to Freeze
Only use tomatoes in peak condition. Overripe fruit won’t taste as good or keep as long.
Remember, once you thaw your tomatoes their original shape and texture won’t matter. Freeze your best-tasting tomatoes. Heirloom varieties like Pink Brandywine, Golden Jubilee, Cherokee Purple and dozens of others may be odd-shaped or soft, but they tend to have rich and complex flavors. Include some paste tomatoes like Roma, Amish Paste, Opalka etc. if you want to end up with a thick tomato sauce.
High-acid tomatoes work better for canning. Low- and high-acid tomatoes are equally safe to freeze.
Freezing Fresh Tomatoes
The quickest and easiest way to get your tomatoes into the freezer is simply to wipe them clean, cut away stems and the tough green-and-white core under the stems, and set them whole on baking sheets in the freezer. Once they’ve frozen you can pack them into plastic bags–don’t stuff the bags too full. Label them with the date and seal them tightly. When you’re ready to use them take them out and run them under warm water. As they thaw their skins will crack and can be peeled off. Don’t leave this too late or your tomatoes will have turned into piles of goo and the peeling process will be messy indeed.
If you want your tomatoes to be ready to use when you get them out, you’ll need to process them a bit more before freezing. Drop your tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds or so, until their skins crack. Pull tomatoes out with a slotted spoon and remove both the peel and the core. Also cut away any blemishes. Pack into containers leaving one inch of headspace empty at the top (because liquids expand as they freeze, and tomato juice is no exception.)
Freezing Stewed Tomatoes
If you want your tomatoes cooked down and ready to go into your recipe as soon as you thaw them, dip them in boiling water as described above, peel and core them, and then cut them into halves or quarters and cook them over low heat for 10-20 minutes or until they are tender and blended. Set the pot of stewed tomatoes into a sink or larger pot full of cold water to cool it as rapidly as possible. Pour the cooled tomatoes into containers leaving one inch of headspace empty at the top. Label with the date, seal and freeze.
Freezing Tomato Juice
Wash tomatoes and remove stems, cores and blemishes. Cook tomatoes as quickly as possible after cutting into them if you don’t want your juice to separate. Quarter them into a saucepan; turn it on as soon as the first tomato is quartered and bring to a boil promptly. Keep adding tomato quarters, keep the pot boiling and keep stirring it. Crush tomatoes in the pot as you go. Simmer for 5 minutes after adding the last tomatoes. Then press tomatoes through a sieve to remove skins and seeds. You may add 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart of tomatoes, or not–it’s a matter of taste. Pour into containers leaving 1″ of headspace, label with the date, seal and freeze.
Freezing Other Tomato Products
Tomato sauce, chili and catsup can also be frozen. Prepare them in the usual way. Cool them quickly, pour them into containers leaving 1″ of headspace, cover, label with the date, and freeze.
Using Frozen Tomatoes
Tomatoes will keep for about 8 months in the freezer. Once thawed, they can be used in sauces, soups and casseroles. If you’re substituting stewed tomatoes or chopped whole tomatoes for tomato sauce in a recipe, you may need to add tomato paste to bring your tomatoes to the desired thickness. If you freeze a large proportion of paste tomatoes this may not be necessary.
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