Can you freeze tomatoes? Tomatoes are grown around the world and widely used in various ways. You can consume raw or processed tomatoes. But is there a way to preserve tomatoes for an extended period of time and avoid spoilage? Cay you buy them in bulk (or cultivate and harvest on your own) and save for the winter? Fortunately enough – you can. You can freeze tomatoes, but you need to know that thawed tomatoes won’t work great in every recipe. Freezing and thawing has an effect on this fruit. Let’s discuss this matter in details.
Tomato, similarly to other vegetables (tomato is botanically a fruit, but it’s considered a vegetable for culinary purposes , becomes mushy after thawing. Because of that, you should use it only in cooked dishes like soups, stews or sauces. Using thawed tomatoes for raw dishes won’t work well, bear that in mind.
Choose appropriate tomatoes and wash them
For freezing purposes choose only ripe, tender and blemish-free tomatoes. If you cultivate them yourself, you should freeze the tomatoes the same day you harvest them. Now it’s time to wash the tomatoes. You should wash them individually, under running water. Don’t use any detergents nor wash them in a sink filled with water. Once washed, rub them with paper towels.
Image used under Creative Commons from Corey Burger
Blanching, chopping and peeling the tomatoes
When in comes to freezing tomatoes, there are tens of possible combinations. I’ll try to discuss here the most important possibilities that you have.
Blanching tomatoes is optional. Blanching suppresses some bacteria and enzymes that are responsible for spoilage, taste change and the vegetable becoming mushy. Therefore, blanched tomatoes should better tolerate the freezing process and be of good quality for a longer period of time. If you don’t want to peel the tomatoes and you plan to use them in next couple of months, you can omit blanching. Blanching is pretty easy – put the tomatoes into boiling water for a maximum of 2 minutes, then submerge them in cold water for a minute or two and dry them.
Peeling tomatoes is also optional. If you plan to blanch them, peeling is a great idea – you can easily slide off tomatoes’ skins after scooping them from cold water. If you don’t plan on blanching the tomatoes, you can peel raw tomatoes (it takes some time) or .. blanch them and then peel. If you won’t peel the tomatoes, you don’t have to worry. Once you need to use the tomato, run it (while still frozen) under warm water, its skin will go off easily.
Chopping the tomato is another field where you’ve got a whole bunch of options. You should start off by cutting out the tomato’s core. You can freeze the tomato whole, cut it in halves, quarters, chop it, cut off its seeds or even puree it using a food processor. The choice is entirely up to you – consider how you plan to use the tomato in the future.
Pre freezing tomatoes
If you decided to freeze tomatoes whole, halved, quartered or with its seed cut, you might consider pre freezing them before putting them into the freezer for the long term. If you will do it, tomatoes won’t freeze into clumps and you’ll be able to easy scoop from the freezer as many tomatoes as you need at a time. In order to do that, you need to put the tomatoes on a cooking sheet or a tray, in a way that the pieces won’t touch each other. Then you should put this utensil into the freezer and leave it there until the vegetables are frozen (time depends on the size of the tomatoes’ pieces). Once done, the vegetables are ready to be frozen for the long term.
Freeze the tomatoes for the long term.
You can choose whichever container seems appropriate for your needs. You can use freezer bags (a ziploc bag might be a good idea), or plastic containers. Just make sure the packaging is airtight. If you decide to freeze the vegetables in a freezer bag, push out any excessive air before sealing the bag and remember to leave some headspace. Choose containers or bags of suitable sizes – consider how you plan to use the tomatoes.
If you haven’t blanched the tomatoes, I suggest you should use them within a couple of months after freezing. If you’ve blanched them, they should be fine (of good quality) for about a year. In order to use them you can place them directly (frozen) into the dish you’re cooking or thaw them in their packaging in the fridge. Please remember that you must not refreeze once frozen and thawed tomatoes.
As you can see, you can freeze tomatoes. Frozen tomatoes work great in cooked dishes like soups or casseroles. They won’t work well in raw dishes.