Garden fresh tomatoes are a cornerstone of summer harvests, and sometimes the windfall of tomatoes is much more than we can keep up with–or maybe it’s just me! Both consistent harvesting from the garden and vigilant organic pest control are taking up a lot of time, leaving time for little else. There’s an easy way to deal with this wonderful problem, and that’s freezing tomatoes for later canning jobs.
If your summer days are like mine, you will need to figure out a way to pace yourself when dealing with your tomato crop. Of course, we want to be eating them fresh in salads, made into a beautiful vegetable frittata like this one, grilled and made into fresh salsa, made into fresh marinara sauce, and even made into lovely fresh tomato soup, but there’s really only so many tomatoes you can eat if you have an abundance coming from the garden!
Balancing all that needs to be done between garden and kitchen can be a little tricky, believe me, I know! Not to mention if you live in a hot summer climate like I do, it’s almost excruciatingly painful to try to get any canning done. Preserving tomatoes this way can buy you some time between harvesting and canning!
The Benefits of Freezing Tomatoes
So what’s a homesteading girl to do when there’s so much work, so little time, and so much heat? A great solution to your summer days is freezing tomatoes in your deep freeze until you can get to them later in the year. For me, that’s usually fall, when it’s starting to cool off a bit.
The beauty of freezing bags of frozen tomatoes in your extra freezer space is that you can come back to them any time you’d like. Having said that, if you plan to wait longer than about 3 months, you need a better option. Try something better than your regular freezer bags, like Foodsaver bags. This will ensure that you get all the air out of the bag of tomatoes, which will help avoid freezer burn.
The Shortcuts to Freezing Tomatoes
This method of freezing tomatoes is going to free you up to keep on harvesting, work on your organic pest control, or just sit in the air conditioning, sipping on a lovely glass of homemade strawberry lemonade. (Don’t know how to make strawberry lemonade? 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and some of this delicious homemade strawberry syrup added to taste. Yummy!) Here’s how to do it:
- Wash your tomatoes in a sink full of water. No need to scrub, just swish them around in the water to rinse any dust off the skin.
- Remove the stem with a stem corer, or just cut off the stem end of the tomato with a knife.
- Put your tomatoes into a freezer safe zipper bag in a single layer and mark with the date. Alternatively, you can freeze these in open vacuum sealer bags, and once they freeze, you can vacuum the air out. This will prevent frost damage and buy you some time between now and canning time.
- When you’re ready to get them canned, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw. You’ll notice that the skins will slip right off and you will be left with peeled tomatoes! No boiling water needed!
Next, it’s time to preserve them! You can choose to opt for canning tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salsas to use all year long in soups and stews, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or in any other kind of sauce or dish you would use your store bought tomato products. Here are a few ideas to get your mind working:
- Canning tomato sauce (here’s a bonus tip for thicker sauce)
- Canning salsa
- Canning whole, crushed/diced or stewed tomatoes
- Canning seasoned tomato sauce
Friend, food preservation while abundant during summer, doesn’t have to be hard if you develop a few tricks, This one I’ve shared will help you immensely in dealing with your windfall crops. You’ll be preserving food like a pro, year after year!