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!
Dehydrating them is always a wonderful option if you have the time, and they can even be grinded down and made into a fine powder that can be added to dishes, or used to make tomato sauce in a pinch!
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!
This is my favorite way to preserve tomatoes. The tomatoes taste so fresh this way.
Alas for us! No freezer space currently! But when we do get a bunch of ‘maters this is how I’ll do some of them!
Kristi Stone says
I know what you mean, Laurie! We have an extra freezer out in the garage that I use for things like this. Our indoor freezer is always too crazy full for them!
I froze tomatoes for the first time last year! I froze some whole in freezer bags, but mostly cut up in jars, some with tomato juice and some with a little added water. We had fresh spagetti sauce all thru the winter! It was wonderful! I am hoping to try my hand at water bath canning this year.
Kristi Stone says
Oh, what an interesting idea to freeze them in jars! Water bath canning will be a great thing for you to tackle–especially for tomatoes because they are so easy to can!
It’s really good to know we can just freeze them and then work with them later on. The fact that the skins slip right off might be reason enough for me to begin freezing them all the time. Can you freeze them on the stem? The stem contributes wonderful flavour to a sauce.
Kristi Stone says
Hey Pia! Hmm, I haven’t tried that, but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work! If you do it, let me know how it goes!
Lisa Lombardo says
Hi Kristi…great tip! I featured your post on Farm Fresh Tuesdays today! Thanks for sharing! I hope you will stop by today and share more of your talent with us. 🙂
Can you cut up the larger one or freeze the whole?
Hi, I am new to this idea, but I am freezing all of mine whole. I did play with the idea of cutting them up, but the juice that would come out and maybe cause a problem in my freezer made me keep freezing them whole.
Debbie Lewis says
I guess I’m not reading how you process them after they’ve thawed. Do you have to heat them before putting in jars & processing, or can you put them in cold & then hot water process them, if so how long?