In the middle of the summer harvest, the last thing I want to do is drag out all of my canning supplies to put up tomatoes. The heat and work seems overwhelming. Last year I decided I wanted to have tomatoes to use for spaghetti sauce, but I did not want the work of peeling, canning, and sterilizing jars. I just didn’t have the time… you can call me a lazy gardner, and you would probably be right. That’s when I decided to learn how to freeze tomatoes. I’d heard about it before, but hadn’t tried it myself. Man, oh man, did it change my world!
Why freeze tomatoes?
Besides the obvious benefit of being so much faster than canning, I love that freezing tomatoes takes up less space and my pantry. And I love the flavor of frozen tomatoes better than canned. This may be personal preference, but once those frozen tomatoes are cooked down into sauce, they are absolutely delicious.
The best tomato varieties to freeze
I would avoid freezing any slicing varieties or grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes seem like they would be difficult to use. Instead, I would focus on varieties that work well for canning. Romas, San Marzanos, or any medium-sized tomato varieties will work best for freezing. And I actually like juicier tomatoes for this as well. They have wonderful flavor that will be a delightful addition to your winter sauces, soups, and stews.
How to use frozen tomatoes
I typically only use frozen tomatoes for two things: spaghetti sauce and stewed tomatoes. Those two things maybe kind of similar, but for my tomato sauce, I use my traditional recipe and simply add cook time to compensate for the extra moisture that will come out of those frozen tomatoes. You can also use a favorite spaghetti sauce recipe, but just add another hour of cook time to let the moisture come out of your sauce. What I find is that the flavor the fresh (but frozen) tomatoes provide is unparalleled. I am certainly not Italian, nor am I an expert on spaghetti sauce, but the recipe my family has been using for the last 30 years did come from an Italian, so I feel like there is some validity there. (The classic cookbook is Sophie Kay’s Italian Cooking, and it’s unfortunately out of print.)
If you choose to dice your tomatoes into smaller pieces, then I don’t see why you couldn’t use them in other winter soups and stews. Just know the tomatoes will lose some of their texture, so it won’t be the same as using fresh.
Now, onto the instructions!
What you’ll need:
How to freeze tomatoes
- Begin by washing your fresh tomatoes. These can come from your own garden or if you have a local farm that sells boxes of tomatoes in the summer then this is an easy way to put up a lot of tomatoes in a short span of time.
- Quarter your tomatoes and cut out the cores. Label gallon-sized freezer bags with the date and contents.
- When your tomatoes are cut, scoop them into the prepared freezer bags.
- Place bags in the freezer and flatten them for easier storage.
- A gallon-size bag of tomatoes is perfect for a family-sized portion of spaghetti sauce. Enjoy!
If nothing else, I hope that you will give freezing tomatoes a try. It has definitely been one of the biggest time-savers I have implemented in preserving my summer harvests. If you’re looking for more information about how to preserve the summer harvest, check out these other articles:
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Gallon Freezer Bags
- Sharp Knife
- Wash tomatoes and cut into quarters.
- Scoop up quartered tomatoes and place in labeled ziploc bags.
- Seal bags and place flattened in freeze to conserve space.
- Use frozen tomatoes as needed.
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