Tomatoes are one of those fruits that I use all the time for different foods: salads, curries, soups, pasta sauces, and more.
I love the flowering of tomatoes in the summer, and I love it, even more, when I see my girls picking and eating fresh tomatoes as they play in the garden.
But I am often left with loads of tomatoes after the summer season, and as we all know they go off pretty quickly. Furthermore, tomatoes outside the summer season can be expensive. Sure you can use can tomatoes instead, but nothing beats the flavor of fresh tomatoes.
This got me thinking, can you freeze tomatoes? The answer is yes you can freeze tomatoes but due to the watering content of the fruit, they will go mushy and soft. So they are perfect for cooking purposes but not for those lovely summer salads we all love!
Are you wondering if it is best to freeze tomatoes with or without skin? Or you may be wondering if freezing tomatoes affect their flavor? Keep on reading, we will answer these questions and more!
Can You Freeze Tomatoes
Yes, you can freeze whole tomatoes whether they are from your garden, green tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or any other type of tomatoes.
Furthermore, they can be frozen in any way you want: with and without their skins, raw or cooked, sliced or as a whole, pureed or chopped, and the good news does not stop there; frozen tomatoes do not lose their nutrients or color when frozen.
However, frozen tomatoes will become mushy when thawed, not so great for us salad lovers. But who would guess that in delicious rich stews and sauces? No one I tell you.
The beauty of tomatoes is that it takes minimal effort to prepare them for the freezer.
You do not need to blanch, steam or fry your tomatoes, simply freeze them as they are. But the only thing you need to note is that you must only use frozen tomatoes for your cooking purposes.
When you thaw your frozen red beauties they will turn mushy and soft. This is why they only work best for soups, stews, pasta sauces, and cooked foods. So if you have ended up with lots of beautiful tomatoes fresh from your garden and wondering how you can preserve them, then the freezer is your best friend.
You can freeze your fresh tomato gardens in zip lock bags, airtight containers, or vacuumed sealed bags.
If your plan is to freeze them whole, the easiest way is to cut their stems and wipe them clean. It is best to cut the white-green core under the stems and flash freeze them.
Flash freezing is the process used to freeze foods individually and prevent them from sticking together in the freezing process. So place your tomatoes on a baking sheet, leaving space in between the tomatoes, and freeze them flat for 15-20 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch. Then they are ready to be transferred to the bag/container. This is the perfect way to use tomatoes as you need them, 1 or 2 at a time!
Ensure you do not leave your tomatoes on the baking sheet for longer than 30 minutes or you run the risk of a freeze burn. Furthermore, if using a ziplock bag ensure as much of the air is released by pushing down on the bag. This is to also avoid freeze burns as the oxygen will oxidize the food’s enzyme while in the freezer.
Note: Freeze burns do not cause any harm to your health or your family’s health. It simply changes the texture and flavor of your tomatoes!
Let’s look into the three most widely grown tomatoes:
Can I Freeze Green Tomatoes?
Yes, you can freeze green tomatoes for up to 3 months if frozen whole, or up to 2 months if chopped. However, like red tomatoes, green tomatoes also go mushy when defrosted, therefore they are not suitable for salad, but they are suitable for any cooked dish your heart desires. Just be aware that green tomatoes have a more acidic tendency than your ripened fruit.
Can I Freeze Cherry Tomatoes?
Yes, you can freeze cherry tomatoes, simply pluck them off the stems, wash them, wipe them gently, and flash-freeze them. Ensure your tomatoes are dry before they go into the freezer or you run the risk of freeze burning them.
To flash freeze your cherry tomatoes, place them on a baking sheet. Make sure you leave space in between the tomatoes and freeze them flat for 15-20 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch. Then they are ready to be transferred to the bag/container and be placed in the freezer once more. Cherry tomatoes last in the freezer for up to 3 months if frozen whole, or up to 2 months if chopped.
Can I Freeze San Marzano Tomatoes?
Yes, you can freeze San Marzano Tomatoes. However, ensure you only use those that are firm to the touch and do not have any visible signs of bruising. This is because, bruising, spots, halos, tunneling in the tomatoes could be indicative of poor quality, which will translate into your dish!.
This variety has little pulp and few seeds, so they’re particularly excellent for sauces and tomato paste.
How Long Can You Keep Fresh Tomatoes In The Freezer?
While tomatoes can last in the freezer for up to 6 months, we recommend that whole tomato are frozen for up to 3 months, and chopped tomatoes are frozen for up to 2 months. That is because, after this time, the tomato’s flavor starts to reduce.
Freezing tomatoes is super simple, they do not need any extra tweaking to prepare for freezing, simply wash, dry, and freeze.
Does Freezing Tomatoes Affect Flavor?
Yes, freezing tomatoes reduces their flavor. This is because the freezing process causes the enzymes responsible for the tomato flavor to become inactive. However, this reduction is minor and it will not be noticed when paired with all the other ingredients needed to produce your delicious curries, soups, stews, and more.
It is worth noting that freezing the tomatoes also changes their texture. This is because the pulp fibers present inside (which contain water), break down and expand when you freeze them. So when you defrost those tomatoes, they turn watery and softer. This is the reason frozen tomatoes will not be great in your salad, but they will taste delicious on a cooked dish.
What Can I Do With Frozen Tomatoes?
Whether you’re a novice at cooking or an expert, you can whip up numerous creative recipes with frozen tomatoes.
For a creative spark, we’re going to share some basic recipes that would suit frozen tomatoes just perfectly.
This is one I often prepare for my family and they love it!
Take 4 to 6 large frozen tomatoes or 8 to 10 medium frozen tomatoes, depending on the quantity you need to prepare.
To peel the tomatoes, run each tomato under warm water for approximately thirty seconds. The skin should thaw helping you peel them off quicker.
Set the de-skinned tomatoes to thaw at room temperature in a bowl.
Once they are soft, mash them with a fork, mashed potato device, or your hand to break them into small, irregular chunks. You don’t need precision here.
Heat three tablespoons of olive oil, then add a medium chopped onion and around four minced garlic cloves.
Once your onions turn a golden brown, you can add the crushed tomatoes and season with thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, salt, and pepper.
Stir the mixture constantly until it starts to boil.
Reduce the flame to medium-low and simmer for one hour uncovered for a chunky pasta sauce. If you want a smoother sauce, you can simmer on low for another thirty minutes or until your sauce is thick and smooth. Stir regularly to ensure your sauce does not burn at the bottom.
Once your sauce cools down, you can even puree it in the blender for the best results.
If you wonder whether you can freeze this delicious sauce or even how to do it. Check out our “Can you freeze homemade spaghetti sauce?” article.
STEWS AND SOUPS
To prepare your tomatoes for stews or soups:
Peel the tomatoes – run each tomato under warm water for approximately thirty seconds. The skin should thaw helping you peel them off quicker.
Semi thaws the de-skinned tomatoes by leaving them at room temperature in a bowl for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until they are soft enough to chop.
Chop the tomatoes; for stews into large, irregular chunks, for soups into small pieces.
Add the tomatoes to your stew or soup.
If you are preparing a quick soup, you can add the semi-frozen tomato pieces 15 minutes before your soup is ready. This will retain the freshness and natural flavor of the tomatoes.
However, for the longer-cooking stews; add the larger chunks at the beginning of the cooking process so that the pieces blend harmoniously with your seasonings and other ingredients.
This is not one of my creations, but it is a soup I could not leave out as it is delicious and one worth spreading the word for! (To see the original recipe please click on the link attached to the tile).
For better convenience, we have described the ingredients and method of making these soups below!
- two pounds of frozen tomatoes,
- a teaspoon of garlic powder,
- cayenne pepper to taste,
- a teaspoon of paprika,
- two teaspoons of dried basil,
- two teaspoons oregano,
- 1 ¼ cups of whole milk,
- ¼ cups of all-purpose flour,
- four cubes of flavored chicken bouillon.
Peel the tomatoes – run each tomato under warm water for approximately thirty seconds. The skin should thaw helping you peel them off quicker.
Defrost the tomatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until they are soft enough for the blender or food processor.
Cut the tomatoes into cubes
Add the tomato cubes, spices, and herbs to the blender or food processor and whiz away until all the ingredients are married into a smooth paste.
Melt the butter and whisk the flour in.
Once your ingredients combine well, add the milk and stir until they boil.
Add the tomato mixture to the butter, flour, and milk mixture; stir well to combine.
If you find the soup is too thick simply add more milk, if it is to think add more flour.
Garnish your soup with some parsley or a few basil leaves (optional).
What Is The Best Way To Freeze Fresh Tomatoes?
To freeze your unpeeled whole tomatoes:
Step 1 – Select your tomatoes
The freezer only preserves the freshness of the tomatoes as they go in.
So to ensure you have the best quality possible select those tomatoes that are firm yet ripe and do not have visible bruising.
The ones with visible bruising are generally indicative of a number of underlying problems in the fruit. They may not be poisonous as such but they will surely be poor in quality. Also, discard any tomatoes that are spoilt or are beginning to rot slightly.
Step 2 – Prepare them for the freezer
Wash each tomato thoroughly with cold water, and dry them off gently with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel.
Remove the stem scar and cut some of the surrounding areas.
Step 3 – Put them on the tray
Lined a shallow baking tray with a cookie sheet.
Place your tomatoes on the cookie sheet. Ensure you leave some space between the tomatoes. They should not be touching at all.
Step 4 – Flash Freeze Them
Place the tray with the tomatoes in the freezer for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch.
Ensure you do not leave your tomatoes in the baking sheet, without covering them, for longer than 30 minutes or they will suffer from freeze burns.
Note: While freeze burns do not cause a health issue, they will reduce the quality of your tomatoes making them unpalatable.
Step 5 – Freeze your tomatoes
Once your tomatoes have been frozen individually for a short period of time, transfer them into a zip lock bag, or an airtight container or a vacuumed sealed bag.
Make sure you allow as little air as possible to remain inside any of the long term storage items. This is especially true for the ziplock bag. Air when mixed with water can oxidize the food making it unpalatable!
If you wish to freeze fresh but peeled whole tomatoes, only one step changes:
Select, wash, dry, and cut the stem scars and surrounding areas of the tomatoes as per the steps above.
Dip each tomato for a minute into boiling water. Wait for the skin to split and then peel them off.
Flash freeze and freeze your tomatoes as per the steps above.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Tomatoes?
You have three options to thaw your frozen tomatoes. You can either let them thaw overnight in your fridge, or leave them at room temperature to defrost for an hour, or you could run them under warm water for thirty seconds or as long as you feel suitable to help them thaw faster.
How Do You Blanch and Freeze Tomatoes?
One way to preserve the nutritional value and flavor of the tomatoes is to blanch them.
Blanching is the process where food is submerged in boiling water for a short period of time, before being submerged into freezing waters to halt the cooking process. This process is undertaken to preserve the quality of the foods (source: The Spruce Eats).
To blanch your tomatoes:
Place them into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds
With the help of a slotted spoon, transfer your tomatoes straight into a bowl of ice water
Pat them dry after their ice bath.
After the tomatoes have been blanched, flash freezes them. Once they are firm to the touch, transfer them into a Ziploc bag, FoodSaver bag, or airtight container.
Ensure you remove as much air as possible from the Ziploc bag, by pushing down gently in the empty area.
Excess air when in the freezer can interact with the moist potentially oxidizing your tomatoes causing freezer burn.
Note: While freezer burn does not cause a health risk, it does change the flavor of your tomatoes making them unpalatable!
We, therefore, recommend vacuum sealed the tomatoes or an airtight container.
How Do You Vacuum Seal and Freeze Tomatoes?
Once your tomatoes are ready for the freezer, either by washing, drying, and removing the stem scar or by blanching them (see above section for more information on blanching), place them in the vacuum bag.
Ensure the vacuum bag is large enough for your tomatoes to fit but not be crowded.
Fold the edges of your bag’s opening, leaving approximately 2 inches (5cm) gap between the tomatoes and the side of the gear you have to seal.
Lock your bag into the sealer and press the button reading vacuum seal. Once you hear the click, it is an indication that you have successfully locked the bag.
Note: This is the basic feature of most vacuum machines. However, vacuum sealers are different so we recommend you refer to the user’s manual for instructions on sealing.
Once the locking is complete, press the vacuum seal button to activate your appliance and compress the bag of tomatoes. Check your user manual to find information regarding your device’s controls.
Placed your sealed bag with the tomatoes in the freezer
Fresh tomatoes come in abundance in the summer when everything is in full bloom.
Sometimes it feels like a crime to let those nutritional and juicy blessings go to waste.
Thankfully, we can freeze tomatoes in various forms and use them in our cooked dishes. From pasta sauces and soups, to rich and creamy, stews, you can create innovative recipes with your frozen tomatoes.