How to Freeze Tomatoes

When learning how to freeze tomatoes, you may treat the tomato as you would the strawberry or blueberry. Believe it or not, scientifically speaking, tomatoes are classified as fruit because they have seeds. However, we tend to call the tomato a vegetable because it fits in with the taste and feel of a vegetable a little more than it does with a fruit.

How Will You Use Your Tomatoes? Tomatoes can be frozen with the seeds and juice or can be cut into quarters and the seeds and juice removed. They can be frozen with the skins on or the skins off. Tomatoes also can be frozen without first blanching the fruit.

It all depends on what you prefer. For instance, in what way will the tomatoes be used once they are thawed? Because the molecular structure will have been broken down by the extreme cold, thawed tomatoes will be mush and useless in sandwiches or on a relish tray. However, frozen tomatoes are the perfect addition to any soup, stew, casserole or sauce, all hot dishes. With the exception of salsa, which can be made fresh without the use of heat, thawed tomatoes are generally best when heated.

Choosing Your Tomatoes: Select firm, plump tomatoes straight from the garden. If you do not have a garden, purchase tomatoes from a farmer's market or the grocery store. Wash and inspect the tomatoes separately by washing each under running water.

If the tomatoes come from your own home garden, you already know what type of pesticides were used, but if the tomatoes are purchased you can only guess. Make sure they are washed properly.

To Skin or Not to Skin? If purchasing the tomatoes, in order to remove all of the pesticides that may have been sprayed on the produce, you may opt to remove the skin. Tomato skins are tough and do not cook well. Additionally, they do not add anything to the product and therefore will not be missed.

However, cherry tomatoes are an exception. Because cherry tomatoes are small, it can become bothersome when you have to remove the skins from hundreds of tomatoes. Freezing the tomato whole, skin and all, is not a problem. You can easily remove the skin later, one tomato at a time, by holding the still frozen tomato under running water. The skin will slip off easily.

To Blanch or Not to Blanch? Blanching seals in the fresh flavor of the fruit or vegetable. However, blanching is not a necessary step when freezing tomatoes.

If you choose to leave the skins on your tomatoes, there are two ways you can freeze the fresh, washed tomatoes.

  • One: Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute, and then submerge them in cold water (placing ice into the water will make this process go a little faster). Leave the tomatoes whole, or cut them into quarters or halves and place them into zippered plastic bags designated for freezing.
  • Two: Don't blanch the tomatoes. Leave the tomatoes whole, or cut them into quarters or halves and place them into zippered plastic bags designated for freezing.

When you freeze tomatoes, try to distribute them in plastic bags based on how much you plan to use in your favorite recipes. That way, you don't have to break up clumps of frozen tomatoes to get the right amount.

Frozen tomatoes will last indefinitely as long as they are wrapped well and are not thawed and then refrozen. But, for best results, you should eat frozen tomatoes within twelve months.

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