How to Freeze Your Garden's Whole Fresh Tomatoes
If you grow tomatoes in your backyard, you may end up with a surplus that you want to store and use over the following months. You can freeze tomatoes easily, but they will not have the same texture or firmness once thawed. However, if properly frozen, the flavor will be unaffected, and you can add the thawed tomatoes to sauces or other dishes you make.
Step 1: Wash the Tomatoes
Pick only the freshest, firmest tomatoes for freezing. Use up the slightly mushy ones right away. Wash the tomatoes thoroughly with water, and dry off with a paper towel. Remove the stems carefully, without cutting the tomato. Use a knife if necessary.
Step 2: Freeze Tomatoes Directly
You can freeze tomatoes directly, without blanching them. However, these tomatoes will not last as long as those that have blanched. If you a have limited quantity of tomatoes that you will use up in a couple of months, this method will work fine. Lay the tomatoes apart from each other on a cookie sheet, with the stem side facing down. Freeze the tomatoes for a couple of hours. Once the tomatoes are frozen, remove them from the freezer and transfer to Ziploc freezer bags. Remove excess air from the bag, and seal it shut. A vacuum sealer can come handy in removing excess air from the plastic bags. When the tomatoes are ready to use, they can be easily peeled, because the skin slips off when washed with lukewarm water.
Step 3: Blanch Tomatoes
Blanched and peeled whole tomatoes last longer in the freezer, and also taste fresher than those that are not blanched. To start the blanching process, boil water in a container. On the side, keep another container ready, filled with ice-cold water. When the water is boiling, add a few tomatoes for about a minute. The skin will start loosening in this time, and you remove the tomatoes and put them in the ice water. Once the tomatoes have cooled off, peel the skin by hand. Any remaining skin can be carefully peeled with a knife.
Step 4: Freeze Blanched Tomatoes
Once you have blanched and peeled the tomatoes, you must make sure any excess water is removed, or else the tomatoes may form a sticky mess when frozen. Place the tomatoes in a colander for a few minutes. Once the water has drained off, add the tomatoes to Ziploc freezer bags, taking care not to over fill the bags. Remove excess air from the bags, and seal shut. Place the bags in the freezer in a single layer. This is essential because the tomatoes are soft and the ones in the lower layers can get crushed. Once the tomatoes have frozen, you can rearrange the bags according to the space available in your freezer. Tomatoes frozen using this method can be used for up to 8 months.