I absolutely love a plump juicy tomato. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t a huge fan of them (unless it was in salsa and maybe a small sliver on a burger), but I credit my husband for getting me to eat them more frequently over the past few years. We planted a few tomato plants in our garden this year and we’ve been fortunate enough to have several produce. In fact, they’re producing a little bit faster than I can eat them!
Earlier this week my grandmother sent me home with a sack full of beautiful tomatoes. I had a few already sitting in my window that really needed to be eaten, but you just don’t turn down fresh tomatoes! So I decided to “put them up” as we say in the South. I really wasn’t interested in canning them, so I went the easy route and prepared them for the freezer.
I love being able to pull out a bag of summer-time tomatoes from the freezer in the dead of winter (or any time of year). They make the soups and chili that like to make during the colder months truly scrumptious. MUCH better than any ol’ can of tomatoes would do! And that’s exactly what I like to do with them! I like to go ahead and dice them when I freeze them, but you can certainly freeze them whole if you’d like.
Sometimes people think that prepping veggies to put away in the freezer is too time consuming or difficult, but it’s truly neither of those things! In fact, I’ll show you just how easy it can be. Are you ready? Here we go!
First, get out a large pot and fill it with water. Let it sit on the stove until it comes to a rolling boil. While you’re waiting on that, go ahead and pull out a couple of freezer bags and write the date on them. I used quart sized and pre-measured each bag to have roughly 2 cups of tomatoes each. I did it this way because that’s about how much I add to my favorite soup and chili recipes. You can divide your tomatoes however you’d like!
Once the water is boiling, set each tomato down into the water and allow it to boil for roughly 2 minutes, or until the skins start to crack. (See picture below)
Once they’ve cracked, remove them from the water with a pair of tongs and set them on a kitchen towel to cool. You’ll want to give them about 20-30 minutes to fully cool before the next step. While you’re waiting on them to cool, go ahead and grab a small bowl and a large bowl.
Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, peel the skins off of each tomato over the small bowl. The bowl will catch the skins and any juice that starts running out of the tomato. Once they’re peeled, place them in a large bowl.
(Note: If you’re not in a big hurry, you may want to consider sitting the peeled tomatoes on a baking sheet and placing them in the freezer for about an hour to firm up before cutting. Doing this will prevent them from losing a ton of juice when you start to chop them. However, this step is not completely necessary, just a lot less messy!
Using a knife, chop each tomato carefully into the desired size and put into a bowl with a spout (I used a measuring cup). Once you have enough tomatoes to put into the bag, pour off some of the loose juice that collected in the bowl and dump tomatoes in the freezer bag. Try to squeeze out any excess air and lay flat to freeze so they take up less space and will thaw quicker.
And that’s it, y’all! See how easy that was? No need to ever let another tomato over ripen or go to waste. Just complete the steps above and freeze those tomatoes so you can enjoy them all year long!
Do you love tomatoes as much as I do? What is your favorite way to eat them? Do you have a special recipe that calls for diced tomatoes? I’d love to hear all about it!
Do you have a bumper crop of fresh squash or carrots you need to put up as well? I’ve got two more tutorials that might help you out!
How to Freeze Zucchini| How to Freeze Yellow Squash | How to Freeze Carrots
Thank you for this. We have our first garden this year. We grew two tomato plants with no real plan for the bounty. Actually no clue there was going to be such a bounty. I don’t can, yet.
Anna Trucken says
Good idea but, I think that boiling the tomatoes for 2 minutes will produce a cooked tomato instead of a blanched tomato to remove the skin. I’ve canned tomatoes for years and usually only bring the water to a simmer and than 20-30 seconds usually produces a crack. I then immediately place in ice water to stop the cooking. The tomatoes stay firm this way and you lose less juice. Bless you for promoting preserving tho…
Laura Tucker says
Thanks for offering your advice! This is the method that has worked best for me over the years, but I appreciate hearing what works for other people as well. I’m always wanting to learn new techniques! My tomatoes were not cooked, but I do recommend boiling until you see the crack. I think it also depends on what type of tomato you’re using as to how quickly you see the crack. For me, about 2 minutes was perfect. I’ve used the ice bath method before to halt the cooking when putting up tomatoes, but I’ve found that it works just as well for me to skip it. Thanks for your input!
I freeze them cut up in quarters with skin and seeds When I need them I thaw them and then put them through the food mill it’s that easy no boiling them to remove skins just cut up freeze and when I need sauce pull them out and put them through the mill
Robin, I was wondering about that. i would like to use mine in like salads and BLT’S, but still want the skin on them. By doing your method do they still have the garden taste ?
Glen A Faulk says
You are so right. that is the way I peel tomatoes for anything!
Holly B says
Hi Laura –
How long do the tomatoes last in the freezer?
Laura Tucker says
Hi Holly! I would recommend using them up within 6 months maximum. Hope that helps!
Holly B says
Yes, very helpful. Thank you so much for your reply! 🙂
Katy B says
I’ve never done this before-I assume thawed tomatoes are best cooked in recipes as opposed to eaten (like on tacos, etc)? Any recommendations for freezing cherry tomatoes?
Laura Tucker says
Yes, thawed tomatoes are best in a recipe. They don’t remain as firm as a fresh tomato usually. I’ve not had any success with freezing cherry tomatoes unfortunately. If you learn of a way to freeze them I’d love to hear about it!
Simply put the washed cherry tomatoes in a plastic freezer bag and freeze! I use them to make ‘fresh’ salsa (not cooked), and it works fine.
Willie Hardin says
Just wash and freeze. It’s that simple. They work great in soup or chili skins and all. On big tomatoes just core them and freeze them skins and all. When you go too use them let them thaw about a hour and the skin will slip off easy. Don’t forget too write on the freezer bag.
I would really like to try this. Do the tomatoes taste bitter after freezing? My mother-in-law told me to cook them for a short time, because she has had them turn out bitter when freezing them raw.
Laura Tucker says
Hi Michele! They don’t have a bitter taste at all to me! Although, perhaps a bitter taste could come depending on the type of tomato it is? I’d have to research that a bit to see!
So if u freeze them, you can only use them in soups?
Laura Tucker says
There may be instances where they freeze and you can use them in a recipe that doesn’t require them to be cooked, but from my experience frozen and thawed tomatoes work best in sauces, salsa, soups, etc.
Laura, Oh darn, I was hoping to be able to use these in like BLT’s or salads. If u find a way for these uses please let us know. I just hate buying tomatoes in the winter at the stores. Yuk !
Con carne, chicken masala, anywhere the recipe calls for tinned tomatoes. If you don’t want skins on just put in hot water while frozen. Skins then come off easily. This just is putting in freezer fresh. We do this with all of our fruit.
Just finished a batch of tomatoes given to me by a co-worker. This method kept me from messing up my kitchen too much. ? I usually use a cold water bath after boiling. I loved that your method left this step out and it worked great! Thanks, you can “teach an old dog new tricks.” ?
I have a vitamix and was wondering if I blend the fresh tomatoes and freeze them in a bag whether they would remain suitable for soups and sauces once thawed? My thought was that the tomatoes would keep their fresh taste even if blended, but then again, I’m nervous that it will thaw and be too runny. btw – I have beefsteaks, patio, jersey, cherry and sun sugar varieties. Thanks for your help.
Laura Tucker says
Hi Dawn! Freezing tomatoes does pull out a lot of the moisture and tend to make them a bit “soupier” when thawing. I think it could possibly work, though! If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it turned out!
Karen Ollie says
Thank you for this way to freez tomatoes ! Had some geven to us and to many to us before they would go bad this was a life saver! The friend had been down in her back had no way to use them so when I get them frozen I well divide them and geve her some .
Karol Hermans says
I wash and core whole tomatoes, freeze them in a bag or on a sheet pan until solid. Next, thaw them in collinder in the sink. When they are soft and drained, transfer them to an old fashion hand crank food mill. Process the tomatoes in batches, reserve the pulp in freezer containers or in ice cube trays and freeze them. The pure flavorful tomato goodness will be ready for recipes and so easy to make. Kids love to use food mills too. This method won’t heat up your kitchen either.
This worked great for me! I just kept an eye on the tomatoes and as soon as they cracked, I took them out and placed in ice bath. Thanks so much for posting this!
Laura Nielsen says
Hey, great post!!! It gets even easier, though. You can simply wash the tomatoes and remove the cores and pop them into freezer bags. When you thaw them, the skins slip right off. It’s like MAGIC! No boiling water needed. This has saved me so many times when I am overflowing with garden tomatoes and can’t keep up. I pop them into the freezer and we make sauce later in the winter. Win, win!!!
I boil the tomatoes (1-2 minutes) than put them in very cold water to stop the cooking process. After I take the skins off, I freeze them just like Laura. I do this in August and Sept each year and leave them until January. By this time, all the HOLIdays have passed and there’s a lull. I pull out all my measured frozen tomatoes and make at least 4 batches, all at once, of spaghetti sauce. I use my mason jars and can the sauce in a pressure canner. House smells wonderful and it is warm on a snowy day. Keeps the house cooler in Aug & Sept.