Freezing Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes can be one of your garden’s most prolific plants. These vines pump out fruits by the handful, and if you grow the varieties ‘Sweet 100’ or ‘Sweet Million,’ well, prepare for a deluge of sun-ripened sweetness. To preserve that summer flavor, consider freezing cherry tomatoes. By freezing these marble-size gems, you’ll have summer-fresh taste no matter the season.
Tomatoes are one of the few items from your backyard vegetable patch that you can freeze without blanching. For full-size tomatoes, just core fruits and toss into zipper bags—you don’t even have to dip into boiling water to remove skins. Cherry tomatoes are even easier. Wash and dry, place on a cookie sheet, and slide it in the freezer. When the tiny globes are frozen solid, toss them into a container or zipper bag.
Frozen cherry tomatoes are no longer fit for traditional tossed salad, but you can blend them with oil and vinegar to create a flavorful dressing. Or blend them with pesto and dried, homegrown oregano and toss with pasta. Frozen cherry tomatoes make a nice complement to roasted meats, rice, and casseroles. They’re also a natural fit for soups and stews.
Cherry tomatoes produce a wonderful slow-roasted product that enhances any dish with up-town flavor. To slow roast, wash and slice fruits, and lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side up. You can scoop out the juicy seeds with a melon baller—or not. Sometimes seeds become bitter when roasted. It really depends on your tastebuds.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes, followed by a sprinkle of kosher salt, a grind of pepper, and whatever herbs you have on hand—fresh thyme or oregano work well, as does fennel seed. Lastly, mince garlic onto the tomatoes. Use as much as your family loves. Pop the pan into a 300-degree oven.
Check the tomatoes at the 30-minute mark. They should be done in an hour—possibly a little longer if you kept the juicy innards. Freeze roasted cherry tomatoes in containers or zipper bags. Add them to homemade pizza, pasta sauce, omelets, or home-baked bread.
Freezing cherry tomatoes is something you can do throughout the growing season—whenever the harvest is heavier than your family can consume. If you garden where frost arrives, take care when freezing cherry tomatoes at the end of the growing season. Tomato skins start to toughen when temperatures dip below 50 degrees F. After freezing, plan to puree late-season cherry tomatoes to break up skins.
The best part about freezing cherry tomatoes is too tough to call. It may be that you’re including the nutrient-packed skin in your dinner menus. If you grow an antioxidant-enriched variety like ‘Indigo Rose’ or lycopene-laden, orange-skinned ‘Sun Sugar’, you’ll definitely be consuming higher nutrient levels than with other cherry tomatoes. Or it may be the best part of freezing cherry tomatoes is that you can enjoy summer-fresh flavor in places like Buffalo and the Twin Cities even in the heart of snowy January.
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