Q. I love shopping at farmer’s markets because I enjoy supporting local farmers. I also find that I can get a good deal on fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. That was the case this weekend, when I stopped by my favourite stall and found tomatoes for sale. I ended up buying a huge basket of tomatoes, and now realize that I can’t possibly eat them all. I don’t have time to make a soup or sauce out of them right now, and just want to store them the quickest and easiest way possible. I’ll worry about what to do with them later. Can you freeze fresh tomatoes?
A. Yes, you can freeze fresh tomatoes, but they will be best used in cooked recipes after being frozen and thawed. Tomatoes have a high water content, which causes them to expand upon freezing. When they thaw, those stretched cells lose their firmness, resulting in squishy tomatoes that are unsuitable for use in salads, where a nice firm tomato is typically preferred. However, freezing doesn’t affect the quality, nutrients, or flavour of tomatoes, so they are perfect for later use in cooked recipes.
How to Freeze Fresh Tomatoes?
To freeze fresh tomatoes, first choose the ripest, firmest tomatoes you can find. Inspect each tomato to ensure that they are free from blemishes. Tomatoes that are bruised or split will not freeze as well as others. Wash the tomatoes in water and dry each tomato individually. Freezing wet tomatoes can lead to freezer burn, so ensure that each tomato is dried thoroughly. The next step is a matter of personal preference.
If you are freezing smaller tomatoes, you may choose to simply freeze them whole. Cherry tomatoes are especially suited to this method. Simply place the clean tomatoes in a freezer bag and remove the excess air. Seal the bag, then label and date it. Place in the freezer until needed. For larger tomatoes, they can either be chopped into smaller pieces or frozen whole. Cutting the tomatoes first takes up less space in the freezer, and doesn’t involve much extra work. Slice the tomatoes into the desired size, and then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes, until the pieces are slightly hard. Then, place the tomato slices in a freezer bag. Remove the excess air, then seal, label, and date it. Whole tomatoes can simply be placed in freezer bags or wrapped in plastic wrap.
Use frozen tomatoes directly in recipes where they will be cooked through, or thaw them in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.