The end of July is creeping up, and with it has come a bountiful harvest of tomatoes- the jewel of the garden. I planted several varieties this year, but especially a lot of Roma tomatoes- since they are so good for sauces.
So now is the time to begin to preserve those tomatoes.
Let me say, I do like canning things. I am one of those who thinks a counter-top of freshly canned fruits or veggies is absolutely beautiful and so rewarding. Yes, I do love the sound of the “pop” when a jar has sealed!
However, I have been doing more freezing of my tomatoes in recent years. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of spare time these days. I’m busy keeping up with my 4 young kids, keeping the house, running errands, etc. etc. You know how it is- you’re probably in the same boat as me.
This freezing method takes very little prep, does not heat my kitchen up like canning does, and I can freeze a batch in smaller amounts, as the tomatoes come in, instead of needing a large amount of tomatoes to even make the canning worthwhile.
Of course, as with anything, there are pros and cons. You do need to have freezer space available. And there is always the possibility that you could have a storm and lose power for several days, and if you don’t have a generator, you could lose all your effort and harvest. So, weigh these factors, and decide which method is best for you.
If you were to search “how to freeze tomatoes” online, I’m sure you would find many methods- and probably from people who know a lot more about it than me. But, this is simply how I do it, and we love to enjoy the resulting yummy sauces in the fall and winter!
There are 5 basic steps.
- Pack bags or containers
1. The first order of business is to get all your pots and bowls ready and set up in a somewhat organized way.
- Large Pot filled halfway with water, brought to a full boil
- Slotted Spoon or Spider for removing tomatoes from the water
- Large bowl with cold water and ice, if possible (you will probably need to refill this with cold water in between batches)
- Colander over a Bowl for holding the peeled/chopped tomatoes
- Another bowl for discarding the scraps
- Cutting Board
- Freezer bags or containers (I use quart-sized freezer bags)
Gather all of this and set up almost like an assembly line.
2. Rinse the tomatoes- just to remove loose dirt. The skins will be coming off anyway, but I don’t really want a lot of dirt in the water.
3. When the water in your pot is boiling, add the tomatoes in batches…as many at a time without over-crowding. Boil the tomatoes for 1 minute.
Remove from the boiling water and transfer immediately to the waiting ice water (you will need to replace this water in between batches in order to keep it cold)
4. One at a time, remove the tomatoes and the skin should peel right off.
Cut off the tops. If desired, scoop out the seeds- or just skip it, like I do! 🙂
(Note: I do not remove the seeds and all that. Some people do so they don’t have seeds in their sauces and also to remove some of the water content. I don’t mind having the tomato seeds in my sauce-I don’t find them very noticeable. But even if I did want to remove them, I could always strain the tomatoes later on when I’m making sauce, to remove the seeds. As for the water content, you reduce a sauce to the thickness you want anyway-so I don’t really find this to be an issue. I also always feel like i lose so much of the tomato when I start removing the seeds. Some of this also depends on the variety. Small tomatoes like Roma, I definitely don’t bother with removing seeds. For a bigger variety, I might scoop some out. So- it’s really about preference. Do as you like!)
Cut the tomato into large chunks. For tomatoes with a thick core- I just chop around that- approximately 4 chunks.
My Roma tomatoes have been small enough this year that I have just been keeping them whole, or maybe only cutting in half.
As you work, add the chopped tomatoes to the colander that is placed over the bowl. This will allow the tomatoes to drain some of the excess liquid as you work
5. Add to a freezer bag or freezer container. I use quart-sized freezer bags. I fill them and then lay them flat. As I’m sealing the bag, I try to squeeze out as much air as possible. Make sure it is sealed tightly
6. and…Freeze! That’s it.
You can give all the tomato scraps to your chickens- they will love you! Or you can add them to your compost pile!
When the time comes this fall and winter to make spaghetti or pizza sauce with your tomatoes, just remove from the freezer and allow to thaw and proceed with your recipe as you would with a can of whole or diced tomatoes.