Food Preservation 101: Freezing Tomatoes

Ok, I’m kinda back. Whatever this virus is, its vicious. And it won’t go away. My boys aren’t feeling so great either.

Anyway, you don’t want to read about freezing tomatoes and me being sick do ya? hahaha.

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Tomatoes…

I’m going to go ahead and confess. I don’t like raw tomatoes. I don’t. I try every year and I just can’t do it. I want to, I really do. I love how they look and how they smell. I love how tomato PLANTS smell (that sharp smell just warms my heart and takes me back to childhood). But…I can’t eat them raw…they’re…slimey. Ugh. And yet we planted about 16 plants this year. Hunter doesn’t particularly like them either! He tries to be a “grown up” though and eat a few. BUT, we love spaghetti, chili, venison stew, veggie stew and pizza so we can use our tomatoes. They won’t go to waste!

I think that when a lot of people think of preserving (canning or freezing), they think you have to have huge batches of produce. I don’t think that’s true. I do tons of small batch canning. For me, I choose to take what I can get out of my garden and go with that. It also works with my life and our work schedule; sometimes, I’ll only end up with a few quarts per batch but those few quarts make all the difference in the winter in my meals. And believe me, it makes ALL the difference when it’s your hubby’s slow season and money is tight. Please don’t think that you can’t do this. Anyone can. Everything I know, I’ve taught myself via the Internet, the Ball canning book or talking to people around me who can. You can totally do this!

Now, ON TO THE TOMATOES!

There are several ways to preserve tomatoes. You can can them or freeze them. Some folks dry them. If you choose to freeze, you can even freeze them whole (once you take the skins off). With this post, I’m going to talk about freezing tomatoes.

First, get a large pot (biggest you’ve got) that’s about three-fourths full of water on the stove and get it to boiling. While you’re waiting on the water, wash your tomatoes well. Get all the dirt off (if they’re from my garden, they’ll have dirt). Also remove any of the stem that is still on the crown of the tomato. Just pull it off. Once they’re all clean, scrub your sink clean and then plug it and fill it up with cold water. Ice water if you have any (we never have ice).

Once the water is boiling, simply drop the tomatoes whole into the boiling water. You don’t have to do anything to them. Just drop them in and let them go 3-5 minutes.

If you keep an eye on your tomatoes, you’ll start to see the skins crack and split open. I tend to let my tomatoes go until the crack is pretty large because I think the skins come off easier that way. I’ll try to show you…

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Can you see that?

After you see the cracks (reckon on many hits I get on the “crack is pretty large” part of this???), use tongs to remove each of the tomatoes and drop them into the ice bath in your sink. For my 30 odd tomatoes, I repeated this process about 4 times and just left them all in the ice bath to wait on me.

Next, we’re going to remove the skins. Since they’ve been in the ice bath for a bit, you should be able to handle them fairly well. Just be careful of hot liquid coming out. Pick up one tomato and the skins should just peel off.

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until you get them all done…

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You might have to pull a little harder around the crown (where the stem was attached) but don’t sweat it. The next thing you want to do is grab your knife and cut a V around the crown. Like this if you can see from these pictures…

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This is to remove it and the bitter part up near the stem. Cut that out and then toss the tomato in a bowl. Trash the skin and the stem. I know of no good use for them and my chickens weren’t impressed with them when I tried. They prefer their whole tomatoes.

Once you’ve got them all cut, here’s where you can do things a couple of ways. You could just drop the whole tomatoes into freeze bags. Or you could dice them up with your knife and freeze them. Or, like me, you could make a sauce.

I pulled out my food processor. I’ll tell you now that this food processor was FREE…story later. Using the slicer blade,

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I ran all of the tomatoes through the food processor. I ended up with a product that looked like this.

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Not quite what I had in mind but I have a reason for starting this way. Last time I canned sauce, I used my puree blade first (this one).

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And I ended up with big lumps that I had to process twice to get to the consistency I wanted. So this time, I decided to slice them first and then puree. Perfect. This is about half of my batch.

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(If you don’t have a food processor, you can still do this. You just need to put the diced up tomatoes in a pan and simmer them down. You might could try a mixer but that could get messy I think? You could try a blender too. I used a blender when I was making baby food back in the day. If you don’t have anything, just dice as small as you can and try a potato masher or a potato ricer. Either of those would probably work.)

For this batch, I opted not to cook down my tomato sauce simply because I wanted to get done. At this point, you could add spices and simmer it down to a sauce of your choosing; it will thicken and become richer i texture. I decided to just freeze mine “as is” so that I could pull it out later and simmer it down to what I want. When I can sauce, I tend to simmer it down more. I don’t really have a reason why though.

As you can see here,

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I ended up with 5 quart bags of final product). I used quart bags and froze 3 cups of sauce per bag. Pour it in the bag and get as much air out of the bag as you can. Seal it up and lay it flat in your freezer. I like to lay them flat so that I can stack them up.

And folks, that’s it. That is all there is to freezing tomatoes. It is that easy. Granted, there are several steps but the flavor you get is amazing! Hopefully this will encourage some of y’all to give it a try with some homegrown tomatoes or some locally grown tomatoes you buy at the farmers market.

Oh, and just so you don’t think I’m some kind of neat cook or something, here’s what typically happens to me.

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See, I’m as messy as the next domestic diva. This is totally what happens when you overfill the processor-repeatedly.

More to come! We still have zucchini, squash, berries, peppers, and okra to go! I’ll also add in some canning here and there.

C-re

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One thought on “Food Preservation 101: Freezing Tomatoes

  1. Wow, Thanks for the tutorial! I always thought you had to cook tomatoes before frezing, I am so glad to be wrong.P.S. I don't like raw tomatoes either, but I love them cooked in recipes.

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