I honestly don’t know if there is much for me to teach you as far as how to freeze tomatoes. It’s so easy and simple! I’ll show you how I do it and I also want to tell you why. This little trick really changed a lot for me which is why I am writing this post.
Once in a while, there comes a moment when I honestly want to slap myself.
When I look at myself in the mirror and ask myself how is it that I’ve been on this homesteading/grow-your-own food journey for so long and I missed this or that simple trick.
I mean, it was right there in front of me and instead of stopping for a moment and actually noticing it, I simply cruised by… Oblivious.
One of those moments came when it finally hit me that I can throw my garden tomatoes in the freezer.
Can I freeze tomatoes?? Yeah, silly! How I missed this trick for so long I honestly do not know.
How to Freeze Tomatoes…
I can’t remember when the realization that I can just throw my garden tomatoes in the freezer hit me.
Maybe it was at that moment in the season a couple of years ago when I had crates of vegetables piled up in the living room (because I have no self-control when it comes to planting a garden in the spring…) at the same time that I had 2 goats to milk, cheese to make, a garden to weed, four kids to take care of, meals to prepare, a business to run, and did I mention the farmer’s market that I needed to prepare for?
Oh, wait, there were probably also at least four other kinds of vegetables/fruits that needed to be canned…
I can’t really remember but I bet that the fact that I can freeze tomatoes hit me right at that moment.
Because it was either finding a super simple solution, and I mean a 0.02 seconds solutions, or losing my mind completely.
Something had to give and I found out that the tomatoes are more than happy to wait patiently in the freezer until crazy-time was over!
Reasons For Freezing Tomatoes…
There might be a few more, but there are three reasons to freeze tomatoes that really stands out. The first has to do with saving time, the second has to do with peeling the tomatoes, and the third has to do with the fact that I can accumulate enough ripe tomatoes for processing.
Saving time – or maybe I would say manipulation of time.
For me, it’s not that I am not going to process those tomatoes, it’s just that I can’t find the time to do it right at the moment that the tomatoes are ready to be processed.
We will talk more later about using frozen tomatoes. You can certainly just use them frozen, but I prefer saving the room in the freezer for meat (even though I sometimes can my meat) and can my tomatoes.
It’s just that tomatoes don’t last too long even if I save them in the fridge so the freezer helps me close the gap between the moment that the tomatoes are ready for canning and the time that I can actually find the time to can them.
I’ll show you exactly how I do this but to give you an overview of the timeline… I pick my tomatoes, I let them ripen, I freeze them. After the crazy of the growing season is over I pull them out of the freezer and can them (usually during November or December).
Peeling tomatoes before canning – the second reason that I love freezing tomatoes so much is because it saves me a lot of time when it comes to peeling the tomatoes before canning them.
Usually, before canning tomatoes, I will bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then, I add a few tomatoes at the time and let them boil for a couple of minutes.
Then, I transfer them to a bath of icy water, cut the skin, and peel it.
Freezing tomatoes saves me all of this work. And this, my friends, I did not know!
When you freeze tomatoes and then take them out of the freezer, let them thaw just a little bit, then you can peel the skin right off.
You can peel the skin right off!
I don’t know about you but I have a thing about boiling large pots of water. I just hate it. I have no clue why but I just hate it.
Maybe because the pot is heavy and my stove is not very close to my sink. Maybe because I always manage to splash boiling water on myself, or maybe because it means that there are more dishes to wash (no dishwasher in this house…).
Bottom line is, if I can avoid that step, sign me up!
So now, even if my tomatoes are ready for processing and I do have the time to process them, I’ll still throw them in the freezer for a day before I process them just because it means that I can easily peel them later.
I’ll show you below how easy it is to peel the tomatoes after freezing.
Accumulating enough ripe tomatoes – I’ve learned that it makes things so much easier if I can work in large batches.
If I cook dinner, I cook enough for three meals instead of just one.
If I plant the garden, I schedule a whole day of planting instead of planting a bed here and a bed there.
If I go to town, I make sure that I pile up enough errands so I make the trip worth it and so I don’t have to make it every other day… You catch my drift?
Tomatoes ripen at different times. They are not all ready for canning exactly at the same time. Instead of canning a few tomatoes at the time, I freeze them when they are ripe and ready for canning.
When I have enough in the freezer to fill my large stockpot, I’ll take them out and can a whole lot of them at once.
What Kind of Tomatoes Are Good For Freezing?
As far as I know… All of them. You can even freeze green tomatoes!
You have to take into consideration that if you freeze tomatoes it’s for using them in cooking later. They won’t be fun to eat “fresh” after thawing so don’t freeze tomatoes like Matt’s Wild marble-size tomatoes.
So if you freeze cherry tomatoes, take into consideration that you’ll probably just be throwing them into a dish because peeling so many tiny tomatoes might be too time-consuming.
If you freeze green tomatoes, you might be able to make relish with them later or you might want to fry them and make fried green tomatoes (make sure to freeze slices if that’s your plan).
I mostly freeze tomatoes that I know that I want to can. When planting my tomatoes, I’ll make sure to plant a variety like Amish Paste or Roma tomatoes which are tomatoes that are great for canning.
These are the ones that I freeze so I can later can them. But again, you can freeze any kind of tomato.
Do I Need to Blanch Tomatoes Before Freezing?
Blanching is the process of cooking vegetables in boiling water for 3 minutes before freezing them.
Blanching stops the enzymes that cause loss of color and taste and helps us make sure that our vegetables stay “fresh” in the freezer for a longer period.
Blanching is not required when it comes to freezing tomatoes. I honestly don’t know why… Maybe it’s because they are acidic but I am not sure.
They can’t be substituted for fresh tomatoes later, meaning, you won’t be able to make a salad with them. But they are great for cooking. They hold their taste and color very well.
3 Ways to Freeze Tomatoes…
So, there are a few ways to do this…
Freezing whole tomatoes – like me, you can simply add whole tomatoes to a bag and put them in the freezer. I deal with the peeling and cutting later.
I do, however, cut some tomatoes if they are damaged. I’ll show you in a minute how I do this.
Cut, remove the core, and freeze – some people like to get rid of the core and sometimes the tomato seeds as well before freezing them.
So they cut the tomato, remove the core and seeds, and freeze only the tomato flesh.
Peel, cut, and freeze – other people like to have the tomatoes, peeled, and cut, and ready to go. So they will boil their tomatoes for a couple of minutes, remove the skin, cut, core, remove seeds (if they want to), and then freeze.
Whichever way you choose is fine of course.
For me, as I said before, the best thing about being able to freeze tomatoes is that I can save myself time and some work so I go with option one.
Tools That We Are Going to Need…
All right, before we start, let’s gather everything that we are going to need.
A cutting board – to cut damaged parts.
A knife – to do the cutting…
A bag – I use these produce bags that I linked to but you can also use ziplock bags. You can even use containers if you prefer.
That’s it! That all we really need. Now let’s learn how to freeze tomatoes!
How to Freeze Tomatoes The Easy Way…
We are going to need some tomatoes, yes?
During the growing season, I pick my tomatoes at the green mature stage. I explain more about it in my post about when to pick tomatoes.
Basically, it means that I pick them when they start to turn red but are not ripe yet. This usually helps me beat the bugs that are on the lookout for a juicy red tomato like the rest of us.
Once I bring my tomatoes into the house, I leave them on the counter (preferably in one layer) and give them a few days to ripen.
I scan them every other day or so and freeze the ones that are ripe enough (if we don’t eat them fresh…).
Preparing Tomatoes For Freezing…
If you have ever grown your own tomatoes, you probably know that it takes a whole lot of work.
You probably also know that the caterpillars love the tomatoes just as much as you do.
Some tomatoes that I pick have some bug damage in them, but I don’t always give up on them and throw them to the chickens!
Sometimes, I just cut the damaged part and use the rest of the tomato…
With this particular tomato, since I had already cut it in half, I cut the good half in half again…
And removed the core…
Before I placed it in the bag. You can see that this bag has tomato quarters in it and those are probably the good parts of damaged tomatoes.
I don’t peel them or remove seeds. I just cut them and remove the core before placing them in a bag and freezing.
Freezing Whole Tomatoes…
Most of the time, if it’s possible, I prefer to freeze whole tomatoes because it simply means that I can take the tomato, put it in a bag and place the bag in the freezer.
Usually, I have a bag in the freezer and tomatoes on my counter. Whichever tomato is ready I place in the freezer in the bag. When the bag is full I start a new one.
How Do Frozen Tomatoes Look Like?
Frozen tomatoes look just like how you put them in the freezer. They don’t change their shape and they keep their color pretty well too…
Even the ones that I cut stay pretty much the same.
Thawing Frozen Tomatoes…
Now, this is important, and I found this out the hard way… Of course. It’s better if you don’t let your frozen tomatoes thaw all the way before you use them.
If you let them thaw all the way and then try to peel them and cut them you are going to have a mess of tomato juice on your counter.
They are very soft and juicy after they thaw. So let them thaw just until you are able to handle them. Once you can peel the skin and cut them go for it.
Handle them when they are still a little frozen and add them to whatever it is that you are cooking when they are still a little frozen (it’s just fine!).
Peeling Frozen Tomatoes…
So, as I said before, take your frozen tomatoes out of the freezer and set them on the counter.
Let them thaw just until you can handle them. It usually takes me 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature in my kitchen.
Then, make a small cut in the skin and pull the skin off. It will come right off with no problem.
The tomato that you see in the photo above is actually a little too soft. I let it thaw for too long. I usually do this when the tomato is still frozen enough to hold it’s shape.
After I removed the skin, I cut the tomato if I want to.
How to Use Frozen Tomatoes…
You can use frozen tomatoes in cooking just as you would a fresh tomato.
In the photo above, I added the thawed (half-way) tomatoes to a food processor, processed them, and used them to make pasta or pizza sauce.
In this picture, they are in a large stockpot and are cooking before I canned stewed tomatoes.
You can not use them to ferment tomatoes and you can’t use them in a salad. They are only good for cooking or canning.
How Long Will Tomatoes Last in The Freezer?
I have a rule that says that I must use all of my preserved goods within a year of preserving them.
So I use my tomatoes within a year but usually before then because I use the freezing just to help me during the growing season. Once the season is over I process the tomatoes.
They can last up to a year easily in the freezer and probably even longer but I find that most foods start to get a funny taste after a year in the freezer.
If you landed here and just experienced this moment that I talked about in the beginning of the post, you know, the one where you want to slap yourself for not thinking about this earlier, just know that you are in good company.
We all have those moments.
But now you know. Now you know that you can freeze tomatoes and that it’s super easy to do.
I am pretty sure learning how to freeze tomatoes will make your life so much easier, just the way it did mine!
If you liked this post, make sure to check these other ones!
- 6 ripe tomatoes
- Choose ripe but firm tomatoes. You can freeze any kind of tomato, even green tomatoes. Just take into consideration that you can't substitute them for fresh tomatoes later. You can use the frozen tomatoes in cooking or you can use them to make and can tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes and such.
- You can simply add the tomato to a bag whole and freeze it.
- If you like, you can peel your tomato, cut it, and remove the core and seeds. It's up to you. I like to add my tomatoes whole to a bag and freeze them if I can. If I have a damaged tomato, I cut the damaged part off and freeze the rest.
- If you want to peel your tomato before freezing it you will need to bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut an X at the bottom of each tomato and add the tomatoes to the pot of boiling water. Let them cook for a couple of minutes then transfer them to an ice bath. After a few minutes in the icy water, you can peel the tomato. You can then remove the core and seeds if you want before adding it to a bag and freezing the tomatoes.
- See notes for thawing instructions.
When you are ready to use your tomatoes, take them out of the freezer and set them in one layer on a plate.
If you froze them with the skin on and you want to peel them wait just until you can handle them (don't let them thaw all the way), make a small cut in the skin of the tomato and peel it. The skin will come right off.
If you need to cut the tomato it's better to handle it when it's still a little frozen. It becomes very soft and juicy when it's completely thawed so if you want to prevent a mess of tomato juice on your counter, cut it when it's still a little frozen.
You can add it to whatever dish that you are making frozen. You don't have to wait until it's fully thawed.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 ripe tomato
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 133Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 9gSugar: 19gProtein: 6g
Hi! I’m Lady Lee. I help homesteaders simplify their homesteading journey while still producing a ton of food! I am a single mother of four, I was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. Now I homestead in central NC.