« Food & Drinks

How To Properly Freeze Your Garden Tomatoes

by Mike DuBord

 

At the end of the season, when Summer vegetables come in with a vengeance, you've pretty much exhausted all uses for them.  Never ever, let such treasures go to waste, it's time to freeze or can them for the Winter.  The canning process can be intimidating to some however, freezing is simple and something anyone can do.  Many people freeze tomatoes successfully after a thorough cleaning without the extra step of blanching.  The general recommendation is to blanch tomatoes prior to freezing for the best results.   I'm going to share how to blanch tomatoes first before freezing and how to make fresh tomato sauce for freezing.  Remember, always label the exterior of the bag with the contents and the amount.

Round # 1: Freezing Tomatoes


The purpose of blanching fresh tomatoes prior to freezing is to help preserve the color and nutrients, improve texture and lengthen the shelf life of the tomatoes. It is not to cook the tomatoes.  Frozen tomatoes are terrific for use in cooked foods such as soups, stews or sauces but won't be suitable after thawing for use in salads or sandwiches. It's a real treat to reach for a container of homegrown tomatoes to make a pot of soup on a cold day. and worth the small amount of effort it takes to prepare them for freezing.  They're a bite of sunshine on a cloudy day!

For the tomatoes you'll need:

Firm ripe tomatoes, any amount
8 quarts water
plastic freezer safe storage bags or
plastic freezer safe containers

Directions for tomatoes:
Choose ripe, firm tomatoes, your favorite variety.  Clean thoroughly and leave whole.  Bring 8 quarts of water to a rolling boil, then carefully lower whole tomatoes into the boiling water.


Leave for 30-45 seconds.  Remove and immediately immerse in cold ice water.  Remove the peel and core.  [tip: An apple corer works great for this task.]


Quarter, or chop as desired. Package in freezer bags or freezer safe containers leaving 1 inch of head space. [tip: If using a bag, press all of the airout of the bag]  Label the exterior of the bag or container with the amount and contents.  Freeze immediately. 

Round #2:  Preparing Tomato Sauce for Freezing

After freezing tomatoes, perhaps you'd like to stash away some fresh tomato sauce, too.  This tomato sauce is purposely left without unique herbs and seasonings, so it can be transformed into spaghetti sauce, a soup or stew base, enchilada or taco sauce, among countless other uses. 

For tomato sauce you'll need:
Firm ripe tomatoes, any amount
salt [1 tsp per 4 cups chopped raw tomatoes]
sugar [1 tsp per 4 cups chopped raw tomatoes]
tomato paste [1 Tbsp per 4 cups chopped raw tomatoes]
plastic freezer safe storage bags or 
plastic freezer safe containers

Directions for tomato sauce:
Choose ripe firm tomatoes, your favorite variety or a mixture of varieties.  Core, halve, or quarter the tomatoes removing seeds, if desired.  Attempt to keep the tomato pieces similar in size so, they'll cook evenly.  Place into a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Season with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of sugar per 4cups of raw, chopped tomatoes.


Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce and intensify in flavor. Remove from the heat and thicken with 1 Tbsp of tomato paste per 4 cups of raw, chopped tomatoes cooked. 


To puree: [3 ways - depending on the equipment you have handy]
1.  Push through a sieve removing seeds and skins but, keeping the tomato pulp.
2.  Use an emersion blender and process to your desired texture. [ie chunky smooth or silky smooth]
3.  Ladle into a stand blender and puree in batches until the texture is to your liking. [tip: Leave ample space at the top of the blender to allow for expansion]


When I prepare this sauce, I use everything.  This includes any seeds, pulp and skin. A very few seeds may be left behind, however, most will puree along with the tomato pulp for a lovely smooth texture.  If you prefer seedless, strain.  Cool completely.  Measure into desired amounts, and pour into freezer bags or plastic freezer safe containers leaving 1 inch of head space.  [tip: Ifusing a bag, press all of the air out of the bag.]  Label the exterior of the bag or container with the amount and contents.  Freeze immediately.