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How To Freeze Tomatoes – Preserving Tomatoes Without Canning!

Did you know that instead of working in a hot kitchen over a hot canner in the middle of summer – you can freeze your tomatoes instead? It’s actually one of the easiest and most versatile ways to preserve your tomato harvest! 

It never fails – You wait and wait for your tomatoes to finally turn from solid green to their mature color. Whether it be red, black, brown, yellow, or even orange, it can seem like a lifetime before your tomatoes start to ripen. 

Then, it’s like you’ve blinked and are suddenly overrun with pounds of ripe, delicious tomatoes all at the same time! And if you don’t preserve them quickly, your tomatoes will spoil before you know it.

Frozen tomatoes in a bag next to fresh tomatoes and a basket.
Freezing tomatoes is a great way to preserve a large harvest all at once.

While canning is an excellent way to preserve tomatoes, it can be intimidating for many new gardeners. Even seasoned gardeners can feel overwhelmed when they are inundated with loads of ripe tomatoes all at once. And that is exactly where freezing comes into play. 

It’s fast, you can do small or large batches at once, and you can decide later on how you want to use your tomatoes – not right at the time when they become ripe. The best part is that there are several different ways you can choose to freeze your tomatoes – and they are all easy!

Why Freeze Over Canning

The first reason to freeze tomatoes over canning is obvious – it requires no special equipment. You don’t have to worry about not having enough jars or flats on hand or if the store shelves are going to be empty. You also don’t need to purchase or store bulky canning equipment when kitchen space is at a minimum. 

The next reason is you don’t have to stress over the improper handling of products. With canning, you have to make sure to have your acidity levels correct and that you follow recipes exactly as they are written. There is very little room for error with canning as a preservation method.

Another reason to freeze your tomatoes is that you don’t have to worry about what type of products you want to use the tomatoes for right this moment. With canning, you need to turn your tomatoes into sauces, juices, salsas, soups, or even diced tomatoes. With freezing, you can just preserve the tomatoes as is and decide later on how to use them for different recipes.

Jars of canned salsa
While canned salsa is great to have on your shelves, there is so much work that is involved. You don’t always have time to create a big batch of salsa during the busy summer months.

The last reason – and maybe the most important – is that freezing is much easier than canning. It takes minimum effort but the rewards are still huge!

What Containers To Use

To have the best success with freezing tomatoes, you want to choose the right type of container. 

Choose plastic freezer bags that are specifically labeled as “freezer safe” when saving solid pieces. Regular plastic bags will not do a good enough job of preventing freezer burn from occurring. In addition, make sure to remove as much air as possible when sealing each bag. 

You can also use plastic containers that are labeled as “freezer safe.” Again, do not use regular containers. Most of them will have a symbol of a snowflake on the bottom if you aren’t sure if the container you are using is freezer safe or not. Be sure to close the lid tightly and check for any cracks.

A vacuum sealer for food storage is also a great option. Again, be sure to pick plastic that is meant for freezing. (Affiliate Product Link: NutriChef Vacuum Sealer)

While you can use glass jars or containers to store frozen products, it isn’t really advisable. The glass has a much higher chance of breaking when it is exposed to drastically different temperatures. 

Tomatoes in a vacuum sealer bag
Vacuum sealer freezer bags are perfect for freezing tomatoes since they remove all of the air that causes food to become freezer burnt.

Be sure to label all containers well with a Sharpie marker or something similar. Frozen tomatoes should be used within six to eight months for the best flavor and texture. 

A Note About Frozen Tomatoes

While it’s not a huge deal, keep in mind that frozen tomatoes will not have the same firmness or consistency as fresh tomatoes. After frozen tomatoes are thawed, they become a bit softer in texture, so they are best used in cooked dishes like sauces and soups. 

You can thaw smaller tomatoes like cherry tomatoes and dwarf varieties to enjoyed in salads, but they still won’t have that fresh-from-the-garden feel and texture. 

How To Freeze Tomatoes

Freezing Whole 

By far the easiest way to freeze tomatoes is to do so without cutting or chopping the tomatoes. This method works best for smaller varieties like cherries or paste tomatoes. 

However, you can still freeze larger slicing tomato varieties whole as well. They will just take up a bit more space in your freezer than smaller or chopped tomatoes. 

Frozen cherry tomatoes
Freezing tomatoes whole is the easiest way to preserve that wonderful garden harvest!

There are two ways to freeze your tomatoes whole: With the skins on or with the skins peeled.

With The Skins Left On 

The easiest and quickest way to freeze tomatoes is to freeze them whole with their skins left on. Essentially, you pick the tomatoes, wash and dry them well, and freeze them. It doesn’t get much easier than that! 

Once you go to thaw out whole tomatoes, the skins will easily slide off as the tomatoes soften slightly. There is no need for boiling or blanching the tomatoes prior to use. 

Without The Skins 

Another method is to remove the skin of the tomatoes prior to freezing. This does take an extra step, but it is fairly easy to do. 

There are two great ways to remove the skins easily. First, remove the stem end of the tomato and cut a small “X” in the bottom. Then, blanch the tomato in boiling water for about a minute. 

Once you see the peel start to split, you can remove the tomato from the water and place it in cold water. When the tomato is cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin and compost. 

A hand peeling a tomato.
After blanching the tomatoes, the peel should come right off easily.

You can also peel tomatoes another way. Simply cut the stem end off of the tomato and set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the sheet in the freezer for about 1-3 hours, or until frozen. 

Take the tomato out and run it under cold water for a few seconds. The skin should just slide right off.

Whichever method you use, place the skinned tomatoes in freezer-safe containers, label them, and freeze. 

Freeze In Pieces 

A great way to save some space in your freezer is to freeze tomatoes halved, quartered, or diced. You should remove the skins prior to cutting, so follow the steps mentioned above.

To really save you time and prevent extra guesswork in the middle of the winter, freeze the cut tomatoes in the same quantities you would use in your favorite recipes. 

Several different vegetables stacked  in freezer bags.
You can actually freeze most of your garden vegetables. Chopping them up into pieces allows you to have more freezer space and to better fill up your bags.

For example, if you always use a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes for a recipe, add 15 ounces of tomatoes to your freezer storage containers. This makes it easy for you to just grab a bag as needed without having to measure out the amount needed when you go to create a recipe.  

Freezing Pureed Tomatoes Or Tomato Juice 

A great way to save space in your freezer is to process the tomatoes into a puree or juice and then freeze them accordingly. Again, like cut tomatoes, freeze processed tomatoes in the normal quantities you typically use in recipes. For both methods, use a mixture of different tomato varieties for unique and delicious flavor profiles.

First, wash the fruit well and discard any diseased fruit. Then, remove the stem, core, and peel. Next, cut the tomatoes into large pieces.

For pureed tomatoes, places the chunks into a food processor or blender and pulse until your reach the desired consistency. Add to your food processor and cook on high for 10-12 hours or until it has reduced and thickened to desired consistency. Allow to cool and then add to solid-sided, freezer-safe containers in desired quantities and freeze.

For tomato juice, add the chunks to a non-reactive stockpot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Run the juice through a sieve or food mill to remove any seeds or solid pieces. Pour the juice into solid-sided, freezer-safe containers in desired quantities and freeze. (Affiliate Product Link: Food Mill)    

Any one of these methods is a great way to preserve your surplus of ripe, juicy tomatoes. No more stressing or overheating in the kitchen using your canner!