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I learned how to preserve tomatoes as a little girl helping my mom, grandmother and great grandmother in the kitchen every summer. Freezing and preserving tomatoes are so easy that it is one of the staples of my food preserving that I do every year no matter what size garden we have or how busy we are. This week my friend with a farm down the road gifted us three huge flats of seconds heirloom tomatoes. What an amazing gift! The challenge was that the tomatoes were all quite ripe and needed preserved ASAP so we got to work. Now one section of our deep freezer is filled with preserved frozen tomatoes to eat all year long!
Sometimes when harvesting and preserving season is so busy I don’t have time to make in-depth recipes to preserve like homemade tomato sauce, homemade ketchup, or homemade tomato soup. Freezing is always my quick and easy go-to method of preserving tomatoes. Then later in fall or winter when preserving season winds down and life slows down a bit, I can thaw out some of our frozen tomatoes and have the time to make more time intensive tomato based recipes.
How to Preserve Tomatoes by Freezing
- Step 1: Rinse the tomatoes to remove any dust or dirt.
- Step 2: Boil a large pot of water. Carefully place tomatoes into the boiling water. I use a large slotted spoon (this is the one we have and love!) to help place the tomatoes into the water so I don’t get splashed with hot water.
- Step 3: Leave the tomatoes in the boiling water for a few minutes or until the skin cracks. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and place them on a cookie sheet or tray to cool.
- Step 4: Slip the tomato skin off the tomato and remove the stem.
- Step 5: Quarter the tomato and place it in a freezer container*.
- Step 6: Once the freezer containers are 3/4 full, wipe the outsides off to remove any tomato juice drippings. Leave the containers sitting with no lid on until the tomatoes are cool. Once I put the lid on, I write on the lid with a permanent black marker what the contents are and the year. Then the containers of tomatoes go in the freezer until we want to use some of our preserved frozen tomatoes!
*I have a big stash of 32oz plastic yogurt containers that I like to preserve tomatoes in when freezing (I also use these to freeze left over chili and soups so they are quite handy!) Freezing the tomatoes in this size container works great since we fill them about 3/4 full to allow some head space for the tomatoes and their juices to expand as they freeze and not push out of the container or crack it. My mom also gave me a few of these containers and they are really handy for freezing food, I especially love the tight sealing twist on lid!
How to use Preserved Frozen tomatoes
I use our frozen tomatoes in a variety of recipes instead of using store bought chopped or diced tomatoes. Since we just slice and quarter the tomatoes, they are versatile and can be used in any recipe that needs chopped tomatoes. I add them into our favorite homemade venison chili recipe, make homemade tomato soup, homemade spaghetti sauce, and tomato based soups. I also use them to make our delicious homemade ketchup.
We have a large chest freezer so freezing tomatoes is the easiest way for us to preserve them. A few years ago when we had over 200lbs of tomatoes we grew , I did can quart jars of tomato puree since I ran out of room in our big freezer. Here’s a post over at Simply Canning where you can find out how to can tomatoes if you also want to give that method a try.