Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freezing Tomatoes: The cheaters guide to faux canning

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First off, let me report that our tomatoes have been less than ideal this season.  I’m not even going to post of picture of them…they are just so creepy sad looking. 
Somewhere between our cold/late planting spring, scorching hot summer and wind storm things just went south with our maters.  Blossom End Rot and Blight.  Bleck!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the fruits of our plants immensely this summer in forms of salsa, salads and one of my favorites…
…freshly sliced tomatoes with cottage cheese and a little fresh ground pepper.  It’s delicious.  Try it!
Last year, I had enough tomatoes to try out canning them myself for the first time.  It went fairly well and the smell of the process reminded me SO much of my childhood.
My mom and grandma were big canning queens.  Aren’t you proud mom???
Unfortunately, this year’s sad and much smaller yield prompted me to do what I’ve also done in years past:  Freeze them suckers!
I know that to those who may can each year, freezing tomatoes must sound awful.  However, it’s a simple way for me to preserve the bounties of summer.  Freezing tomatoes doesn’t result in the same tomatoes that you get from canning, but the flavor is SO there.  I use them for dishes in the winter where I really want fresh homegrown tomato flavor.  The freezing breaks the tomato’s “meat” down a bit so they are best used in simple homemade marinara, where the tomatoes flavor is the star, or in soups and stews.
Freezing Tomatoes
What you will need:
  • Tomatoes (duhhhh!)
  • Large stock pot full of boiling water
  • Large bowl of ice water
  • Large bowl for tomatoes after peeling
  • GB (garbage bowl a la Rachel Ray)
  • pairing knife
  • quart-sized freezer bags
First off, get your stock pot water to a rolling boil. 
While the water is coming up to a boil, rinse the tomatoes and make a small “X” on the bottom of each one like this.
It helps with the peeling process later.
Once your water is up to a rolling boil, place 4-6 tomatoes (depends on stock pot and tomato size) directly into the water. 
I don’t have a picture of this because it happens fast so use you’re imagination.  Stock pot, boiling water, tomatoes bobbing. 
Watch carefully and remove each tomato after 30-45 seconds.   Place them directly into the ice water bath.
You’ll often see little splits in them like this:
Do not leave them in the boiling water too long.  You aren’t cooking them!!  Just blanching.
After a minute or so in the water bath, remove the tomatoes to a cutting board and peel each tomato. 
The peeling should come off easily. If it does not, put the stubborn mater back into the boiling water for a few seconds. Then ice water and try peeling again. 
After peeling you’ll have this:
Now you’ll need to core each tomato using your small paring knife.
I like to gather my cored and peeled tomatoes in a bowl to hold them all until I’m ready to freeze.  Otherwise they leak their yummy juices all over the place.
After all of the tomatoes are peeled and cored you’ll have this lovely bowl of goodness…
As I mentioned before, I like to keep a garbage bowl handy for all of the peelings and cores.  Thank Rachel Ray for that one.  Saves a lot of mess by not having to sloop all of the tomato carnage to the garbage can.
Tomato carnage in GB:
Next, I quarter all of my tomatoes and measure out one quart at a time.  Once I have a quart of tomatoes, I pour them into a quart-sized freezer bag.  Be sure to squeeze all of the air out of the bags.
Now the bags are ready for the freezer.  I like to use this brilliant “pizza” freezing technique.
Highly technical as you can see.  Basically I use my frozen pizzas to create a flat surface for freezing.  I find that having flat frozen bags is much easier for freezer space.  Then you can put them upright like files when they’re solid. I do my basil pesto this way as well.
So, there you have it.  Freezing Maters 101.  Hope I didn’t offend the canning purists and maybe shared some new info to gardening newbies.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!
I'm linking this to Tasty Tuesdays:
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  1. I have always frozen mine. But that tomato carnage in the bowl? My chickens want that. Please.

  2. Thanks for this! I have always wanted to try to do this and you made it sounds "doable"! Is Doable a word? :)


  3. I like the idea of using your pizzas to make flat space~brilliant!

  4. I've found that with Romas, I don't even need to take the skins off. I freeze them whole on cookie sheets, then put them in a large Ziploc freezer bag in the freezer. When i go to use them, I put them under warm running water and the skins virtually peel off by themselves!

    The photo of those canned tomatoes is absolutely beautiful!

  5. Did you say pesto? How do you do pesto? I love pesto (I'm allergic to tomatos) and am always looking for new ways to make/preserve it.


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