During the winter months in the Midwest, tasty fresh tomatoes are difficult to find. Store-bought hothouse varieties are waxy and tasteless, but once summer arrives the difference in texture and flavor is extraordinary. Fresh homegrown tomatoes are one of the tastiest treats of summer, and this tasty icon of summer can last all winter long by using the best method to freeze them. Frozen tomatoes lose their firmness, but it is possible to freeze them to use in soups, casseroles, and sauces that will taste far better than bland store-bought off-season produce or canned varieties. The best way to freeze tomatoes is also the easiest way to freeze them, and the following simple instructions will help you get started on preserving your bountiful harvest.
Necessary Supplies to Freeze Tomatoes
To freeze tomatoes you will need freezer bags or freezer containers of appropriate size. It is best to choose one-quart containers to freeze produce instead of larger sizes. This way if only a single quart of tomatoes is required for a specific recipe, nothing will go to waste. Also required for this method to freeze tomatoes is a large pan, a colander, and a slotted spoon. You will also need tomatoes that are ripe and ready to eat but firm. If they are not quite ripe enough to freeze, place them on a sunny windowsill for a few days, or place them in a paper bag along with a ripe apple. A naturally occurring gas emitted by the apple will hasten ripening. Keep in mind that a single rotting tomato can spoil the others. Do not blanch and freeze any tomatoes that smell bad, have grown mold, or have softened beyond the stage of normal ripening. When in doubt, throw it out!
Procedure to Freeze Whole Tomatoes
Have freezer bags or containers ready, and begin by heating a large kettle of water. While the water is heating, wash the tomatoes thoroughly with clear water. As the water in the kettle begins to boil, blanch a few at a time by submerging them in the boiling water for approximately thirty seconds. This will make the skins very easy to remove, but the they will not fully cook during this process. Remove the blanched tomatoes with a slotted spoon, place them in a colander, and immediately run them under cool running water until they can be easily handled. The skins should slip right off, and the tomatoes will be ready to freeze.
Next, discard the skins and place the skinned whole tomatoes into freezer containers or bags. Leave about one-inch of headroom at the top of the packages or containers. This will allow sufficient space for expansion as the contents freeze.
Continue the process of blanching and removing the skins, and if possible, obtain the help of an extra pair of hands to speed up the process. Freeze them for up to twelve months, and enjoy the freshest tasting soups and sauces until the next harvest.