Q. I made the mistake of planting too many grape tomato plants in my garden this summer, and now I have a glut of tomatoes that I don’t know what to do with. Who knew that each little plant produced so many tomatoes? I can’t possible put them all into salads, and I know that grape tomatoes aren’t the kind you make tomato sauce out of, so I’m kind of stuck as to what to do with them. Someone suggested that I freeze them, but I’ve never heard of anyone freezing grape tomatoes. Won’t it ruin them? I worked so hard to grow them, I don’t want to destroy them all! Can you freeze grape tomatoes?
A. I often get asked about freezing tomatoes. There seems to be a misconception out there that tomatoes are not well suited for freezing. I think that has something to do with their texture after defrosting. Tomatoes have a very high water content. As a result, when they freeze their cell walls expand quite a bit. Upon thawing, the water contracts, leaving the tomatoes a bit soggy after having been stretched out during freezing. While that may make tomatoes unappealing for your next salad, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still perfect for cooked recipes like soups or pastas. You could simply oven roast your thawed grape tomatoes for a bit before tossing into your pasta.
To freeze grape tomatoes, start with firm, ripe tomatoes. Remove the stems from the tomatoes, and then wash and dry them carefully. Throw away any grape tomatoes that are blemished. With larger tomatoes I often recommend blanching and even sometimes peeling them, but with grape tomatoes it’s not worth it to go through all that extra effort. Simply place the clean, dry tomatoes onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the freezer to flash freeze the tomatoes. Once they are firm to the touch, place the grape tomatoes into freezer bags. Seal the bags, then label and date them.
To use frozen grape tomatoes, remove the desired amount from the freezer and allow to thaw in the fridge or on the counter. They may be a bit watery, so drain any excess water before use. Then, use the tomatoes in your favourite recipe. Store unused thawed tomatoes in the refrigerator for a day or two. Discard any grape tomatoes that have not been used within 48 hours of thawing.