Freezing Tomatoes: 365 Days of Delicious

Extend your garden harvest by putting your love apples in the deep freeze.

Totem Tomato Perfect Size for Patio Containers

Totem Tomato Perfect Size for Patio Containers

Totem hybrid tomato is more fruit than foliage, compact and perfect for patios or window boxes. Small to medium, round, red, flavorful fruits produced in abundance with attractive dark green foliage. No staking is required.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

When tomatoes are in full force, the value of capturing the taste of summer through canning cannot be denied. Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve the harvest for year-round use. But canning is also time consuming and requires some investment in the tools of the craft. Water bath canners. Tongs and lifters. Jars and lids. While I encourage anyone interested in food preservation to consider taking the plunge into water bath canning, it isn’t the only game in town.

Freezing tomatoes has some distinct advantages over other methods of preserving the harvest. And for those new to crop preservation, it is an easy way to get started.

No special equipment needed. At its simplest, freezing tomatoes takes little more than airtight containment and space in the freezer. Vacuum sealers are terrific and as much or as little effort can be invested in preparing the tomatoes before packaging, but a ziploc bag and a dream will get you there.

Freezing is convenient. No need to rummage around in the basement for canning equipment or race out in search of canning lids or hope you have lemons on hand to add a little acid as is required when water bath canning. Odds are, everything you need is already in your kitchen.

No batch too small. You certainly could can half a dozen tomatoes, but given the setup requirements, sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth the effort. In just a few minutes, even just a few tomatoes can be preserved for a time when they will be most appreciated.

Now the bad news. Tomatoes just can’t keep it together after a good freeze. Texture and structure degrade significantly when a tomato is frozen. So if you are angling for sliced tomatoes to top a tossed salad when your cool weather crops are kicking in, frozen tomatoes probably won’t fit the bill.

Soups, sauces and salsas? That’s another story. Frozen tomatoes hold their flavor fairly well. “Thaw and dump” pint or quart sized portions conveniently found in the freezer section of your very own kitchen hold a lot of appeal and will add a bit of summer to those cool weather comfort foods.

Because much of the structure will be lost to the freezer, my preference is to slice, dice or crush the tomatoes before freezing. They will be easier to use when thawed and much more compact than whole tomatoes when trying to make the most of limited freezer space.

Freeze Vegetables From Your Garden

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Fresh Broccoli Beats Store-Bought Every Time

Want to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden broccoli all year long? It's a snap to freeze this fiber-rich veggie to use in stir fries, soup and more. Learn the process for how to freeze broccoli in this article by Julie A. Martens.

©2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Overwhelmed with Cucumbers?

Cucumber vines can be prolific producers of the treasured summertime veggie. Don't think it's possible to freeze cucumbers? Well, the secret lies in the preparation. Learn how to freeze cucumbers for summer-fresh fare in any season.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Never Have Too Many Cherry Tomatoes

While frozen cherry tomatoes are no longer fit to be used in tossed salads, you can blend them with herbs or use in soups and stew. In this article, Julie A. Martens offers several great uses for frozen cherry tomatoes and describes the best way to preserve them.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Freeze Spinach for Soups and More

While you won't want to serve frozen spinach in fresh salads, the leaves will work nicely in soup, casseroles and stir fries. You'll just want to freeze young leaves. Avoid the older or yellowing leaves as they'll produce a nasty taste and rubbery texture. Ever tried making frozen spinach cubes? Get more tips on how to freeze spinach in this article on how to freeze spinach.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Can You Freeze Kale?

Yes, you can freeze kale. Frozen kale works well in smoothies and blends well into quiches, crock pot stews and soups. Find more uses for frozen kale and how to best preserve this nutrient-packed green.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Put Your Onions in the Deep Freeze

Too many onions to eat right away? Not a problem. They freeze easily, and can be used in a variety of ways. Learn how to prep onions for safe storage in the deep freeze, how to keep the onion odor low and when to use frozen onions in your dishes.  

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Freeze Asparagus for Great Flavor

While frozen asparagus spears won't be as crisp as garden-fresh stems, they can still be used in many dishes. Here are the steps to preserving this nutrient-dense vegetable and some ideas on how to use frozen asparagus to add flavor to your meals.

©2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Can You Freeze Garlic Cloves?

You definitely can freeze garlic. In fact, you can freeze garlic in many ways. While frozen garlic lacks the crunchy texture of fresh, the flavor remains strong—and definitely won't have the chemical taste that sometimes accompanies jarred garlic. Learn several ways to freeze garlic and how to use it to add flavor to food.

©2010, How to Grow Practically Everything, Dorling Kindersley Limited

How Do You Freeze Eggplant?

Eggplant doesn't keep very long, and you won't be able to can it without pulverizing it beyond recognition. So, how do you preserve your delicious eggplant? Forget your canner and learn how to freeze eggplant. Here are several freezing methods you can try.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Enjoy a Summertime Favorite All Year

Learn how to freeze corn and you'll be able to enjoy this summertime treat all year—even with your holiday turkey. Freezing corn is simple, and it's a great way to introduce kids to food preservation. Learn the steps to freezing corn in this article by Julie A. Martens.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

How to Freeze Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts bring more than taste to the table. This cabbage cousin boasts vitamins and is high in protein, so you'll want to make your locally-grown Brussels sprouts last. Learn the two ways to freeze Brussels sprouts and ways to include this frozen super veggie on your table.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Steps to Freezing Cabbage

Want to enjoy the nutrition offered by cabbage all year? This unsung hero of the vegatable garden adapts well to the freezing process. Start with dense, solid heads that feel weighty for their size. Learn more about the steps to freezing cabbage in this article from Julie A. Martens.

©2010, DK - How to Grow Practically Everything , Dorling Kindersley Limited

Freeze Celery for Soups

Celery is mostly water, and the freezing process ruptures cell walls, resulting in a limp, mushy product. But frozen celery works fabulously in casseroles, sauces, stock, and other hot concoctions. You can also use it as an aromatic with soups, broths for cooking rice, or roasts, tossing after cooking. Learn the steps to freezing celery in this article.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Overstocked on Mushrooms?

Mushrooms might last about a week in the refrigerator, which might not be enough time to enjoy the bounty you may have grown or foraged. Consider freezing mushrooms. Learn which method of freezing mushrooms works best, and get some ideas for how to use them in recipes.

©2010, How to Grow Practically Everything, Dorling Kindersley Limited

How to Freeze Tomatoes

  1. Blanch. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 60-90 seconds and, using a slotted spoon, transfer immediately into a bowl of ice water to cool. Skin will slip easily from the flesh.
  2. Prepare tomatoes. Remove stems and core tomatoes. Tomatoes may be left whole, but preparing them in a way that maximizes storage space is recommended. Work over a shallow dish to retain juices.
  3. Transfer into storage bags. Using a ladle or measuring cup, fill pint or quart sized ziploc bags.
  4. Seal bags. Make sure to push as much air as possible when sealing to avoid freezer burn.
  5. Into the freezer. Try to store flat. The shape in which they freeze is the shape you’re stuck with until it’s time to thaw.

Frozen tomatoes will retain flavor for 12 to 18 months.

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