Q. I have just picked a bunch of tomatoes from my garden, and I’m at a loss for what to do with them. Usually I make tomato sauce or pizza sauce, or make sundried tomatoes with them. However, this year I’m really busy with a new job and I honestly don’t have time to do any of those things right now. Still, I don’t want to throw away the tomatoes because I would like to use them in a few weeks when my schedule slows down a bit. I don’t think they’ll last that long on the counter or in the fridge. I would like to freeze them whole, but I’m not sure if that will ruin them. Can you freeze whole tomatoes?
A. I’m always surprised that so few people freeze their tomatoes whole because it’s such an easy way to preserve them. Frozen tomatoes will lose their firmness after being frozen because the water in the cells expands when frozen and then contracts upon thawing, causing the tomato to become soft and mushy. However, previously frozen tomatoes are excellent for using in recipes such as soups and sauces, where the texture is meant to be broken down.
How to freeze whole tomatoes?
Some people blanch tomatoes first and remove the skin before freezing, but it sounds to me as though you are looking for the easiest way possible to freeze them. If you plan on using the whole tomato (including the skin) in recipes, there’s no need to blanch them before freezing. First, begin with fresh, firm tomatoes. Then, be sure to remove small blemishes with a clean knife. Cut or pull off the stem of the tomato. Wash the tomatoes and dry well. Freezing wet tomatoes will result in freezer burn.
It is acceptable to simply place the tomatoes in a freezer bag, but I find it’s difficult to remove all of the excess air this way and it risks exposing the tomatoes to freezer burn. Instead, I recommend wrapping each individual tomato in plastic wrap, and then placing the tomatoes in a freezer bag. Seal the bag, then label and date it. Place it in the freezer where the temperature is stable, closer to the back.
To use frozen whole tomatoes, remove the desired number of tomatoes and add them directly to a soup or stew if they are going to be pureed later. Alternatively, you can thaw whole frozen tomatoes in the fridge first, and then cut them into the desired size.