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If you’ve got a whole bunch of tomatoes that you won’t eat in time to go off then there are various ways you can preserve them to eat at a later date. Did you know that freezing tomatoes is one of the easiest ways to preserve them?
It also doesn’t require long drawn out processes or extra tools. You can freeze tomatoes both with and without their skins so there’ll be no need to blanch them.
You can pop them in the freezer cooked, raw, pureed, whole, and sliced, whatever you prefer. Frozen tomatoes which have been freshly-picked in the summer are great for freezing and storing for those cold, winter days when you need something rich to pick up your spirits.
We’ll be lending you our best recommendations for freezing tomatoes, storing them and also defrosting them.
How to freeze tomatoes
If you want to freeze your tomatoes with their skins still intact, then you’ll want to wash them under cold running water and then dry them with a paper towel.
Once they’re dry, you’ll want to cut away the stem of the tomato and then find yourself a baking sheet to put on your baking tray. Arrange your tomatoes evenly on your baking sheet and in a single layer.
Then pop in the freezer for a few hours. Once they’ve all frozen through, you can put them in a ziplock bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible before to keep them as fresh as possible.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a freezer that’s big enough for a baking tray you can put your fresh tomatoes in a freezer bag in a single layer and seal the bag as much as possible.
Then using a straw try to suck out as much air as possible. Place on a flat surface in the freezer where the tomatoes will stay in an even layer and so they aren’t all squashed. Don’t move the bag until the tomatoes have frozen properly.
If you want your skins removed before freezing, you should follow the same technique but beforehand you should place your tomatoes in boiling water for one minute until the skin splits so then you can pull away more easily. Place them on a baking sheet or in an airtight freezer container.
If you want to freeze your tomatoes straight after picking them from the garden then you can do so. You can even leave the stem on, leave them unwashed and pop them straight into the freezer.
However, you should write a note on your container that you haven’t washed them before freezing so you can remember to do it when they’re been defrosted and before cooking.
Your tomatoes should take several hours to freeze thoroughly but we like to put them in overnight so they don’t get in the way if you need to access the freezer during the day.
Freezing cooked tomatoes
If you want to create your own tomato sauce for future recipes then you can always cook and then freeze them until you’re ready to use them. You should wash and chop your tomatoes accordingly and place them in a saucepan to cook for 10-20 minutes.
Take off the heat and wait for your tomatoes to cool down before putting them in an airtight container with just under an inch of free headspace above the tomatoes.
When you place your tomatoes in their designated freezer bags or containers, make sure you use a permanent marker to write the date that they were put in the freezer on them.
It is generally recommended that frozen tomatoes should be eaten within 6-8 months of them being put in the freezer.
How to defrost tomatoes
The best way to use frozen tomatoes is by using them in recipes that require cooking or heat. Freezing compromises the texture of tomatoes, so it will be very difficult and not very appealing to use them raw in recipes like salads.
You can put your frozen tomatoes straight from their contained or zip bag into a recipe like soup or stews to cook. Frozen tomatoes can be used as a great substitute for canned tomatoes.
If you’re not using all of the tomatoes from the bag make sure you reseal securely and remove the air again before putting back in the freezer.
If you want to remove the skins from your frozen tomatoes, you can run them under warm water until the skins split, and then you can easily pull them off.
If you’re going to wait for your tomatoes to thaw at room temperature for about an hour or two or use warm water to speed up the process. If you’re going to let them thaw overnight you should put them in the refrigerator to do so.
You can also defrost your tomatoes in a container in the microwave, keep the lid placed on the container but not completely secured. This will avoid your tomatoes splattering everywhere in your microwave if they do happen to split.
Factors to considering before freezing
- As we briefly mentioned, tomatoes do struggle to retain their usual texture once they’ve been thawed, so if you want to use tomatoes in a salad then you’ll have to make sure you use them when they’re fresh. Save your frozen tomatoes for soups and stews as they’ll blend perfectly into the recipe.
- Make sure you have enough room in your freezer to store all the tomatoes properly., you don’t want to get squished and burst whilst they are freezing.
- If you were thinking about seasoning your tomatoes before freezing (e.g garlic or herbs), you must remember that it can make the flavors stronger or weaker so to be on the safe side, it’s best to leave the seasoning to whilst you’re cooking or just before serving to make sure the flavors are just right.
So there you have it, a simple solution to store any extra tomatoes you may have and keep them for longer. Freezing tomatoes is such a useful way to make the most out of your tomato harvest if you’re growing them yourself.
They can be frozen to be used in future recipes for up to a year and will really help make your harvest stretch further even after the season is over.