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Sep 3, 2008 01:36 PM

Freezing tomatoes -- your tips

I went a little crazy at the Farmer's Market and would like to chop up some tomatoes and freeze them before they go bad. My mom says she just cores them and dices them, then puts them in freezer containers, seeds and all. Is that how you do it? Would you add anything to them, like chopped basil, or sea salt? Or blanche them, perhaps?

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  1. One year, when I had two little kids, I planted a huge garden. In July, I took a full-time job with a 2hour round trip commute, and had NO time to deal with the flood of tomatoes.

    My solution was to wash the tomatoes and put them in bread bags in the freezer, whole.

    It worked great, with one big flaw--the bread bags were not strong enough, and the stems of the tomatoes tore the bags up, so I had loose tomatoes rolling around in the freezer.

    So--now I remove the stems, core the 'maters (if necessary--some tomatoes don't have much of a core) and put them in strong plastic bags--the Handy-vac sealer works great for this.. When you get ready to use them, take out the quantity you need, and let them thaw for a while. The skins will pop right off and can be discarded, and the tomatoes can be chopped. They do get a bit stringy, so don't leave them whole--chop or slice them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sparrowgrass

      All that sparrowgrass offers is good.I am perhaps a tad lazier.Remove the stem,core,into bag and freeze.Now I vacuum.There will be a rainy day later to
      work out the recipes.My sister freezes them with bunches of oregano or basil,
      says it save time later.If you don't have easy access to herbs CHEAP all year
      it's not a bad idea.

    2. You aren't going to slice slice them and use then in salads of course, so any way you freeze them will work. You can prepare before freezing or after thawing. I have a 0-degree upright, so I don't see any need for special containers. But I double-wrap everything. If you have fresh herbs, by all means freeze.

      1. My favorite way is to roast them whole in a low oven for several hours and then freeze. I don't skin or seed, but if they are big, I do cut in half before roasting. It saves space in the freezer and adds quick tomato flavor throughout the winter. We do a U-pick every year and do 60+ lbs of tomatoes. This year we ran out by January, so if we can manage it I am going for 100 lbs this year!

        I have also frozen the tomatoes whole or chopped, but they take up a lot of space, and I end up having the cook them down anyway. When using the roasted tomatoes in anything that calls for fresh tomatoes to be cooked down, just adjust accordingly since you have already cooked them down some.

        1. I agree with everyone so far.
          My contribution would be, if you have an outdoor grill going, roast them over a grill (blackening the skin all arount) and now, or when you pull them out of the freezer, make a lovely roasted tomato soup, or roasted tomato sauce.

          5 Replies
          1. re: The Old Gal

            All these suggestions are fabulous. I would have never thought of roasting or freezing them whole. Thanks!

            1. re: brendastarlet

              Also just know that fresh tomatoes will never taste the same once they've been chilled. There is a key flavor enzyme that deactivates below something like 40 degrees. Alton Brown talks about that on one of his shows. Anyway, since you said that you got them at a Farmers Market, they are probably good quality and worth savoring instead of freezing. I agree with the suggestions about roasting since that will give you more flavor to work with. I would also suggest making a batch of soup, which I often make with roasted farmers market tomatoes.

              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                Here's my test report: I cored and roasted about a half dozen big tomatoes, and also roasted some small romas whole. The red, pink and heirloom tomatoes held their shape, and a sample tasted wonderful. I put them in freezer containers with sprigs of basil and oregano.However, the yellow tomatoes essentially exploded in the oven. I still scooped them up and put them in freezer containers, but they ended up being mushy. It sounds like I should skip those as I keep going.

                I am savoring these fresh (I had a wonderful insalata caprese this afternoon) and have made soup, but I am trying to ensure myself some good flavor when it's January/February and we're all so sunlight deprived that we want to shoot ourselves. No matter how good the canned tomatoes are, they are never the same.

                1. re: brendastarlet

                  If I don't have time to make sauce to freeze (I do have some questions about other's methods for making sauce to freeze) I either:

                  Take my whole Romas, wishing they were San Marzanos, cut stem end off, flash freeze on cookie sheets then vacuum seal. When needed, hey separate beautifully and skins slip off under running cold water.

                  I usually try to roast emasse also. I try to separate by type as roasting times really vary; Everything gets cut in half, cut side up on cookie sheets, generously drizzled with garlic and olive oil (i make up a batch of garlic and olive oil and apply from a selection of cheap, wood handled 'chip' brushes I buy by the case, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Low, low oven.

                  I'll do my SunGold Cherry tomatoes all by themselves; they are like savory candy! Obviously, they don't take near as long.

                  Plum types are next - cut in half, as above. If I don't have as many as I'd like, I'll do other tomatoes as well - including Yellow and Orange ones. As they are halved, they don't explode but you have to give these juicier types longer in the oven - - till they kind of melt into themselves.
                  I often overcook my batches, much to my dismay (everything is still edible...except on a couple of occasions) but I prefer to get them out at a point where the magic has happened, well before we would call them dry.

                  What temps do you roast at? My old oven would go down to 180 and larger tomatoes could take as long as 8 hrs. or so.

                  1. re: jessarina

                    I roasted mine at 250 degrees for an hour on the recommendation of an Aussie magazine called Delicious. They came out beautifully.