You and I really have a love/hate relationship sometimes.
I love you for your flavor and versatility… But I hate how finicky you can be to deal with in the garden sometimes…
Don’t get me wrong– I’ve had some bumper tomato crops resulting in jars and jars of savory homemade sauce. However, there are plenty of years where I end up dancing around my tomatoes inability to ripen on time, or end up staring at boxes upon boxes of green ones after being surprised by an early snow…
There’s nothing better than pulling a jar of home canned sauce out of the larder mid-winter for a belly-satisfying pot of from-scratch spaghetti.
However, as much as I love canning my tomatoes, I’ve actually been freezing them more frequently lately, and I’m in love with the results. Here’s why:
- Tomatoes freeze beautifully. While frozen tomatoes aren’t well-suited for slicing or salads, they are fabulous for stews, soups, pasta dishes, sauces, etc.
- If the tomatoes in your garden are sporadic in their ripening and you’re only getting a handful at a time, freeze the small harvests until you have enough saved up for a big batch of sauce.
- Y’all know how I feel about fuss-free preservation, and freezing tomatoes is totally easy– no blanching or hot kitchen required.
- You can use your frozen tomatoes to make my favorite fast, fresh sauce recipe. (Instructions below!)
Watch Me in the Kitchen as I Freeze Tomatoes!
How to Freeze Tomatoes
I generally grow Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes, since we eat more sauce than fresh ‘maters, but any variety of tomato will work for freezing.
Wash the fresh tomatoes thoroughly, then remove the ends and any bad spots.
Halve the small ones, and quarter the big ones. If I’m freezing cherry tomatoes, sometimes I’ll just pop the whole thing in the freezer– no cutting required.
Seed the tomato pieces. I do this by running my thumb and forefinger down each side of the tomato to scrape out most of the juice and seeds.
I do this very quickly and if I end up with some seeds or juice left inside, I don’t sweat it.
From here, I toss the seeded tomato pieces into a gallon-size freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. However, if you’d rather, you can arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze for 30-60 minutes, and then transfer to a freezer bag. This keeps them from sticking together, but honestly, I’ve never had a lot of problems doing it the down-and-dirty way…
What About Blanching?
Some tomato freezing tutorials call for blanching or boiling them first to remove the skin. I don’t do that, and I never have… You guys know how I feel about fussy food preservation, and blanching is a bad word at my house. I’ve never had a problem just freezing them raw with peels on, and once you cook them down and puree them, you’ll never know the skins were there anyway.
How to Use Frozen Tomatoes
- Thaw ’em and give them a quick whirl in your food processor for crushed tomatoes in a jiffy.
- If I have plans to can a big batch of homemade tomato sauce, I’ll simply save back my bags of frozen tomatoes until I have enough to fill my big pot. When I’m ready to can, I thaw them, drain them, and then proceed to cook them long and slow with my favorite tomato sauce spices and seasonings, before processing them in jars. (Sorry, I don’t have a recipe for this– it changes every time!)
- Make my 15 minute small-batch tomato sauce— it works like a charm with frozen tomatoes!
Other Tomato Recipes You’ll Love:
- 40+ Ways to Preserve Tomatoes
- 15 Minute Tomato Sauce Recipe
- Homemade Pico de Gallo Salsa
- How to Make Sundried Tomatoes
- Tomato Garlic Soup Recipe
- 4 Ways to Ripen Green Tomatoes
- 10 Tips for Growing Tomatoes
- 2-4 cups frozen tomatoes (or heck, if you want to use fresh ones, you definitely can!)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Fresh basil and/or oregano (optional-- dried will work too)
- In a medium saucepan, gently heat the garlic in the olive oil for several minutes. We're not looking to brown it, or even saute it really-- just to soften it and mellow out the flavor.
- Add in the tomatoes. Sometimes I thaw/drain them first, but other times I'm in a hurry and just toss them into the pot still frozen.
- Allow the tomatoes and garlic to mingle, stirring as you go. The tomatoes will release their juices, and you can season with salt/pepper accordingly.
- Stir and simmer the tomatoes until softened, and now add in the herbs. You can use dried herbs if you wish, but if at all possible, use fresh basil and/or oregano. The flavor difference is amazing.
- Puree the mixture with your hand blender (like this one). I like to leave my fresh sauce a little bit on the chunky side.
- Toss with fresh pasta (combining this with homemade pasta is out of this world) or use it as a topping for your favorite pizza recipe.