Farm To Table | Tips and Tricks

Freezing Tomatoes- 3 easy ways

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Sometimes your garden just gives you too many tomatoes at one time to process all at once. Learn all about freezing tomatoes 3 easy ways!

Fresh tomatoes in bag ready for freezing.Pin
Freezing Tomatoes

I have a confession to make. Every year, when I start my seeds in March for that years’ garden, I plant extra seeds, in case I don’t get germination on a variety.

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Well, even after giving away every tomato plant that I can to friends and family, I end up with too many plants for 3 people to realistically use in 12 months. Like waaayyy more!

So what do I do? I plant them anyway, because I can’t bear to throw away any of the little plants that I have nurtured so lovingly, from seed for months.

The backlash of this single action is that I have bushels of vegetables to use, or process in the 4 short months that my garden is plentiful. Give them away, invite friends and family to come pick their own, etc. etc.

I still can’t keep up. Soooo, long story short. Many, many bushels of tomatoes end up frozen, in one form or another.

Stick with me and I’ll show you 3 easy ways to freeze them, so that you can use them all year long!

These 3 methods can be used in a variety of ways. In soups, stews, chilis, jam. You can even use them to Can Tomato Sauce in the middle of winter. We’ll go through the process for freezing Whole Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Purée/ Juice.

What you need

  • Fresh tomatoes- use perfectly ripe tomatoes. They will have the best. They can have a few spots in 2 of the methods below. In the first, you will want to use perfect tomatoes, without spots or cracks.
  • Freezer bags, tupperware, vacuum packing bags or jars.
Fresh tomatoes and freezer bags on white board.Pin

Which tomato varieties should you use?

The easy answer is whatever varieties you grew in your garden, or picked up from the farmer’s market. They all make delicious sauces, with a slightly different, unique color or flavor. One of our favorites to use are cherry tomatoes. They make delicious spaghetti sauce with a lovely, natural sweetness.

General tips for all methods

  • Make sure to carefully wash fruit and remove all dirt and debris.
  • Choose fruit at the peak of ripeness for best flavor, texture and appearance.
  • Vine ripened fruit is always best for freezing.
  • Pack as many tomatoes in the bags as you can to reduce waste, or use reusable silicone bags.
  • Remove as much air from the bags as you can.
  • Lay bags flat in the freezer so that they are easier to stack.
  • If freezing in mason jars, leave at least 1-inch headspace. Freeze without the lid until frozen. Then attach lids.

Freezing Whole Tomatoes

This is perhaps the easiest method to get the job done. There are pros and cons to this method. Read on to learn more.

Wash tomatoes thoroughly with lukewarm water. Pat dry.

Fresh tomatoes on white board.Pin

Cut out stem end with a sharp knife. Place whole, perfect tomatoes, with no splits or bad spots, on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Whole tomatoes before freezing on parchment lined baking sheet.Pin

Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Frozen tomatoes on parchment lined sheet.Pin

Once they are frozen solid, transfer to freezer container of your choice.

Whole red tomatoes in gallon freezer bags.Pin

Pros and cons for using whole tomatoes

Pros

  • By far the easiest, fastest method.
  • No mess in the kitchen.
  • Perfect in lots of different dishes.

Cons

  • They take up more room in the freezer, so you need adequate space. (you can slice tomatoes or use diced tomatoes so that they sit flatter, if you like.
  • You should only use perfect fruit, so you can’t use cracked or bruised fruit.
  • Generally, the bags don’t stay flat, so they are difficult to stack in freezer.
Colorful tomatoes in freezer bag.Pin

Do you need to blanch the tomatoes first?

Absolutely not. Once frozen, they can be held under lukewarm water, if you are in a hurry, or let them thaw in the refrigerator. The tomato skins will peel right off, if you choose.

There is technically no reason to remove the skins, with many recipes. In other recipes, the skins and seeds may add a slightly bitter, acidic flavor. That just depends on variety.

If you would like to blanch the skins off, get a large pot of water boiling. Cut stem ends off. Blanch for 1-2 minutes, until skins crack. Remove with slotted spoon and immediately place in ice bath. Let cool. Remove skins.

Whole tomatoes in freezer bags.Pin

What can whole tomatoes be used for?

They can be used for any recipe that you would use whole canned tomatoes for. Some of the best recipes are my Chunky venison Chili, 3 Meat, 3 Bean Chili, Oscar relish, Chipotle salsa, or Roasted Garlic Salsa.

They are also great in soups, like tomato soup and stews. You can use them for other dishes, if once they are thawed, you follow the directions for the two methods below to transform them into crushed tomatoes or tomato purée.

Freezing crushed tomatoes

Crushing your tomatoes is another great time saving way to preserve your harvest. You can also use tomatoes that have cracks or small bad spots that can be removed. So you can take advantage of the full harvest.

Crushed tomatoes in freezer bags.Pin

This method is also quite easy. you will need a food processor or blender.

The method for crushed tomatoes

Cut any cracked or bruised areas off with a sharp kitchen knife. Also cut off stem end. Cut in half.

Halved tomatoes on cutting board.Pin

Place in food processor or blender. Note: You can blanch the whole tomatoes to remove skins, prior to cutting them. Follow blanching method above.

Halved tomatoes in food processor container.Pin

Pulse to desired consistency. You can leave a few chunks, if you prefer.

Crushed tomatoes in food processor container.Pin

Pro tip; Use a large mouth canning funnel to transfer them to your freezer bags, to save on cleanup!

Canning funnel to assist loading juice into bags.Pin

Pros and cons of crushed tomatoes

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to freeze a large quantity of fruit in a short time.
  • You can use slightly damaged fruit and utilize your entire harvest, without any waste.
  • Take up less freezer space than whole tomatoes.
  • Ease of use- Just thaw and add to all of your favorite dishes.

Cons

  • More mess to clean up and dishes to wash.
  • They still have the skins and seeds, so depending on your variety of tomato, can be more bitter or acidic.

Freezing purée or juice

Juices or purées are an easy way to utilize those garden veggies.

Frozen pureed tomatoes in bagPin

First set up your juicer. Mine attaches to my Kitchenaid stand mixer. You will require the food grinder attachment, plus the vegetable juicer / strainer attachment. If you have another brand of juicer, that will also work.

You can also use a food mill, if you par cook the fruit in water, until slightly softened. Drain well.

For the Kitchenaid, two bowls are required. A large bowl to collect juice and pulp. Another smaller bowl to collect seeds and skins. No need to cut off stem end.

Bowls set up to catch juice and seeds.Pin

Cut off any bad spots in tomatoes. Cut into pieces that will fit into juicer. Load into hopper.

Kitchenaid vegetable strainer with chopped tomatoes loaded.Pin

Push through the juicer with the pusher tool. Seeds and skins come out the end. Juice falls through into the other bowl.

Kitchenaid vegetable strainer with tomatoes.Pin

Once all of your tomatoes are done. Run the material in the seed and stem bowl through the juicer one more time. You will be amazed at how much more juice will be removed from these.

Tomato skins and seeds in bowl.Pin

Pour purée into the freezer containers, using the wide mouth canning funnel as above. Seal the bag. Freeze.

Two bags with tomato puree. One red tomato and the other yellow tomato puree.Pin

Pros and cons of puréed tomatoes

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to freeze a large quantity of fruit in a short time.
  • You can use slightly damaged fruit and utilize your entire harvest, without any waste.
  • Take up less freezer space than whole tomatoes.
  • Ease of use- Just thaw and add to all of your favorite dishes.
  • Perfect for Tomato Sauce, Tomato Purée, Tomato Juice or ketchup.

Cons

  • More mess to clean up and dishes to wash.
  • Takes longer than the previous 2 methods.

How long will they last in the freezer?

In my experience, frozen tomatoes, no matter how they are processed, will last over a year! I try to use them up before the next harvest is due, but on occasion, haven’t gotten to them all. They are still fine.

Pro tip; Get yourself a freezer thermometer. Using a thermometer ensures food safety and will extend the life of frozen foods. Foods that are stored below 0°F tend to freezer burn more quickly.

Want to learn how to grow your own tomatoes? If you love growing your own produce, these posts are packed full of information about how to get that big harvest by the end of the season! Don’t miss our How to Start a Garden Series!

Colorful fresh tomatoes on burlap.Pin

The first section is Planning Your Garden. Second is Preparing the Garden Site.

The third is Choosing Plants and Planting Your Garden. The fourth is Garden Maintenance.

The last is Harvesting a Garden and Preserving the Harvest, this article has over 100 FREE recipes for preserving your harvest!

I hope this tutorial will help you preserve all of your fresh tomatoes this summer. Let me know which method you will use.

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If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.

I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Freezer bags with whole tomatoes ready for freezing.Pin

Freezing Tomatoes – 3 easy ways

Sometimes your garden just gives you too many tomatoes at one time to process all at once. Learn all about freezing tomatoes 3 easy ways!
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: how to
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour
Freezing time: 4 hours
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 1 quart
Calories: 170kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 1 qt fresh tomatoes

Instructions

For Whole Tomatoes

  • Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
  • Wash tomatoes well. Pat dry.
  • Remove stem end.
  • Place on baking sheet. Freeze at least 4 hours.
  • Once frozen transfer to any storage container of your choice.

For Crushed Tomatoes

  • Wash tomatoes well. Pat dry.
  • Remove stem end. Cut out any bad spots.
  • If you'd like, you can blanch tomatoes to remove skin. Place tomatoes in boiling water fro 1-2 minutes, until skins begin to crack. With slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to ice bath. Cool. Slip skins off.
  • Place in food processor or blender container.
  • Pulse until crushed to desired consistency.
  • Use a canning funnel to help you load into freezer bags, containers or canning jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. (space allotted between food and top of container)
  • Freeze at least 12 months.

For Tomato Purée or Juice

  • Wash tomatoes well. Pat dry.
  • Remove stem end. Cut out any bad spots.
  • Cut into pieces small enough to fit into your juicer.
  • Set up juicer/ vegetable strainer. Feed tomato pieces into the hopper of the strainer.
  • Load juice into freezer containers, a canning funnel works well for this.
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Notes

Will easily freeze for 9-12 months.
Use a freezer thermometer to ensure your freezer is set at 0°F. This will lengthen the time tomatoes will stay usable.
Use freezer bags, vacuum sealer bags, plastic freezer containers or glass jars to store tomatoes in. Leave an inch headspace (space between product and top of container)  to ensure room for expansion.
Canning funnel is handy to help load into container.
I use Kitchen food grinder and vegetable/ juicer attachment for purée or juice.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1quart | Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 2243mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 7883IU | Vitamin C: 130mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 3mg
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12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve never thought of freezing whole fresh tomatoes before but it’s so much easier than cooking them down first!

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