CSA BLOG: Freezing Tomatoes
The following tutorial on how to freeze tomatoes is courtesy of pickyourown.org.
Freezing home grown or farm fresh tomatoes for use in winter cooking is very easy to do! The flavor of spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and salsas you make then will be superior to those made from canned tomatoes or store bought so called "fresh" tomatoes.
Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated. This method is so easy, ANYONE can do this! It's a great thing to do with your kids!
Ingredients and Equipment
- Tomatoes - any quantity, ripe but not over ripe, still firm
- Vacuum food sealer or plastic freezer bags
- 1 large pot
- Large slotted spoon
Process - How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
- Remove tomato skins.
Here's a trick you may not know: put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 - 45 seconds is usually enough) then plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. This makes the skins slide right off the tomatoes! If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce, not very pleasant.
- Removing the skins, bruises and tough parts
The skins should practically slide off the tomatoes. then you can cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the tough part around the stem and any bruised or soft parts. After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half. Now we need to remove the seeds and excess water.
Note: why remove the skins? They become tough and discolored in storage. You wouldn't want to eat them!
- Squeeze off the sides and water
Just like it sounds: wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. You don't need to get fanatical about it; removing just most will do. Another way to do it is to cut each tomato in half, across it, instead of lengthwise. Then just shake the seeds and juice out.
Here are before and after photos:
- Drain the tomatoes
Toss the squeezed (Squozen? :) tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off. You may want to save the liquid: if you then pass it through a sieve, screen or cheesecloth, you have fresh tomato juice; great to drink cold or use in cooking! By draining the water off now, you'll end up with a thicker spaghetti sauce in less cooking time! And that preserves vitamins (and your sanity).
- Fill the freezer bags
Don't overfill the bags, leave a little room for expansion. Do try to avoid leaving any air pockets! A vacuum bag is shown at left, but you can use ziploc (or similar) bags, show below. But be sure to squeeze out the extra air.
- Vacuum seal the bags (if you have a vacuum sealer)
Obviously if you haven't got a vacuum food sealer, just inspect the bags and you may need to open them and reseal them to eliminate any air pockets!
TIP: If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a Ziploc bags, zip the top shut but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda straw. When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out. To remove straw, press straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw.
- Freeze the bags
Pop them into the freezer (on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one). Now leave them for 2 or 3 hours till frozen.
Put in the back (coldest part) of your freezer. And wait for a cold winter night when it is dark and dreary out, to remove it and defrost (microwave works well) and use in making so fresh tasting spaghetti sauce or other tomato cooking!