Introduction: Freezing Summer Tomato Crop

Picture of Freezing Summer Tomato Crop

There's noting like the taste of an in season, vine ripened tomato. This is a quick and easy method to preserve those late summer gems. With a little effort now you can enjoy that unbeatable taste all winter long while the less fortunate dine on those insipid tinned versions of the real thing. Walk right on by those reddish waxed rocks in your supermarket selling for $3.99. You've got a freezer full of delicious tomatoes preserved at their peak.

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Picture of Tools and Ingredients

The following is a basic list of tools you'll need for the project:

Ladle for filling freezer bags
Tomato Shark (see picture) or small paring knife for coring tomatoes
Zip-Loc Freezer bags' - 1Qt bags are good if you are going to make sauce later on
Bench/Pastry Scraper (See Picture) for cleanup of tomato carnage (optional but great)
Stockpot for blanching tomatoes, the bigger the better
Large bowls for cooling blanched tomatoes and holding tomatoes. Stainless works best.
Long Handle Strainer (See Picture) to pull tomatoes out of boiling water. Small strainer works too.
Paring knife for everything else

Almost forgot....
Tomatoes for freezing and enjoying later. Almost any variety works. However, Roma's and Brandywines are great for making into sauce later.
I've found it takes about 2 lbs of raw tomatoes to make one 1Qt frozen. 20lbs = 10 Qt's in the freezer. You can often find really good deals at your locals farmers market in late August/Early September. I recently paid as little as $20 for 25lbs of organic Heirloom Roma's. It pays to buy in bulk.

Step 2: Overview and Prep

Picture of Overview and Prep

There are just a few simple steps in the process:

1. Blanching and Cooling
2. Coring and Peeling
3. Packaging

Prep work:
Fill your stockpot 2/3's full of warter and put on the stove over high heat. You want acheive a solid rolling boil before blanching. This will take a while if your using a large pot.

Clean and prep the largest work surface you have in your kitchen. You’re going to want lots of space for multiple bowls and such.

Fill your largest bowl with Cold water and set the nearest you can to the blanching pot. You will be transferring the hot tomatoes in here to cool and loosen their skins.

Set a couple more bowls out on your work surface, your going to want one bowl to hold blanched tomatoes, one to hold processed tomatoes and one for the skins and scraps.

You will also want a couple of clean dishcloths handy as stray juice tends to build up and will need mopping up during the process.

Now you’re ready to go.

Step 3: Blanch and Cool

Picture of Blanch and Cool

This step is not intended to cook the tomatoes at all, it is simply meant to ease the process of peeling. Be careful not to over blanch as it will turn the tomatoes to mush and loose that fresh flavor your trying to capture.

Once your water is at a rolling boil:
Quickly and gently (careful of splashing) drop enough tomatoes to fill your stockpot while maintaining a boil (6-12 depending on pot and tomato size)

After about 30 seconds begin removing tomatoes from the stockpot and placing them in your bowl of cold water and continue until all tomatoes from this batch are removed. The cold water plunge will split and or loosen the skins making it a breeze to peel them.

After a couple of minutes remove the tomatoes from the cold water and place them in a bowl in our work area. They are now ready to be peeled and cored. If you have a helper they can start the next step while you continue blanching and cooling the next batch.

Step 4: Coring and Peeling

Picture of Coring and Peeling

Time for the fun part. You should now have a bowl of cooled tomatoes with very lose skin in front of you. Let's get them ready to package.

If you have a tomato shark you probably know how to use it. So get to it and core those tomatoes. If you don't own one, get one they are a couple of bucks and very handy. Try here. In the mean time, take a sharp paring knife and insert the tip a half inch (Careful not run it through and stab yourself) or so next to the outer edge of the stem part of the tomato. Angle the knife blade towards the center. Rotate the tomato until the knife cuts a full circle around the stem. You should now be able to pop the core and stem out.

Now grasp the tomato firmly in one hand and apply some downward pressure. The skin should slip right off. If it is difficult to remove the skin, try blanching a little longer.

Transfer the cored and peeled tomatoes to a bowl for packaging. Repeat until batch is done.

Step 5: Packaging

Picture of Packaging

Time to fill the bags. I've found setting the empty bag in a small container helps hold it while you are filling it with tomatoes.

1. Quarter the tomatoes with a pairing knife (optional)
2. Using the ladle scoop the tomatoes into the empty freezer bags until it's about 3/4 full.
3. Wipe the seam with a clean dishcloth and seal.
4. Wipe the outside of the bag down.
5. Use a sharpie to label your bag with tomato type and date.
6. Throw those bad boys in the freezer.
7. You’re done!

Now don't you feel superior? You will, when you’re eating fresh tasting tomatoes in February.


lhansen10 (author)2013-10-22

Thank you for this information. We are getting the last of the tomatoes put up (the easiest way possible!). I look forward as to how this turns out.... And I like the garlic idea an earlier member posted. :)

rosewood513 (author)2009-05-07

I have been gardening for over 40 years. I take the ripe tomaotes from my garden wipe them off, I have an organic garden, I toss them in bags and vacuum seal them. The last thing I want to do in the middle of the summer is cook tomatoes and mess up my kitchen. This is the right way to do it but I would rather wait for the winter to take them out and cook them then when it is cold and you want to heat up the house. But thanks for sharing your way of doing it.

HotPepperMan (author)rosewood5132012-07-29

You MUST blanch vegetables (varied times for different veg) before freezing or you will end up with a tasteless and/or spoiled (useless) crop lacking in essential vitamins!!!

stevequag (author)rosewood5132011-08-20

You should use the boil (blanch) method with any fresh frozen vegetables otherwise they will continue To ripen, even in the freezer. Essentially it will kill the active ripening enzymes in the tomato that would otherwise over ripen and dissipate nutrients over a small amount of time and make your healthy summer crop relatively useless to your body.

tetheredcat (author)rosewood5132010-04-15

I used to do this too, right into the freezer. And when Im ready to use them, slip them into very hot tap water, and the skins peel right off. Dont even have to put them in boiling water!

rosewood513 (author)tetheredcat2010-04-15

Yes that is why I love this way,  peel them nowe or peel thrm latter doesn't matter.   in fact i do this for garlic a lot the skins fall right off when you try to cut them.  :o)

tetheredcat (author)rosewood5132010-04-15

OOH! I didnt think of garlic!!  *off to plan..*

chiapower (author)rosewood5132009-07-31

Me, too!!

Dr.Bill (author)chiapower2009-12-29


vaporizer (author)2012-04-02

I always cook them - or rather dry them a bit in the oven - before freezing them, because I rationalize they'll be cooked anyway before eating and this way they'll take up less space in the freezer.

zumaeta (author)2007-12-22

they will eventually like become alive turning into tomato zombies, then kill us all!

Cyrus (author)zumaeta2009-02-10

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes style? Anyone else remember that cartoon?

austin (author)2006-09-05

i have done some freezing but i also like drying them if you have cherry or grape tomatos just cut them in half and dry them in the sun or in the oven on low low heat. they work for pastas and chillis and such just toss a dried one in and it rehydrates.

imasiberian (author)austin2008-09-05

Never thought of this. How long does it take to dry them in the oven? I have always just put them on a cookie sheet and after they are frozen pop them into a freezer bag.

celi (author)2008-08-28

What do you do about seeds when freezing, roasting canning etc.? Do you remove the seeds first?

shecktor (author)celi2008-08-28

I generally try to remove most of the seeds by giving the tomato a squeeze after peeling and coring. Also, I use varieties that have minimal seeds (ie brandywine)

paulie55 (author)2008-06-20

Great Instuctable, thanks. If you are going to skin the tomatoes, (I do, the skin is yuk) getting a sharp knife and cutting a *very shallow* cross on the bottom before blanching makes them come off even easier. You only have to split the skin itself, try not to cut to deep into the flesh of the tomato. The length of the cut depends on the size of the fruit, about one third the width of the tomato works fine.

shecktor (author)paulie552008-06-20

Good tip. Thanks

jongscx (author)2008-05-19

Drying is also a good one. As was actually just sticking fresh, washed tomatoes in a freezer bag straight into the freezer...

tictac24 (author)2008-05-19

Another option would be to can them, which would follow the exact same steps except the last one where you'd just sterilize a few mason jars with hot water, fill the jars nearly full, then just cap them at wait for them to seal. That way you wouldn't have to worry about possible freezer burn or have to wait for them to unthaw.

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-05-19

Since the price of everything is going up and people are talking green so often now. I felt this was a great time to feature this Instructable. I think it is well made, the instructions are as clear as the pictures provided. There is only one thing I would add at the end. After you freeze them in a zip lock take them out of the ziplock and put them in a vacuum sealer bag and vacuum seal them. They will last 3 times longer in the freezer this way.

dbjccomfrey (author)2008-03-30

I don't peel them either, remove stems-wash them- food processor for about 6 seconds-then into the baggie. I have fresh home-made spegitti sauce & soup all winter long. I used to watch my mom go thru the canning process during childhood- seemed like a whole lot of work to me. But good to know about the blanching procedure if I ever want to remove the peelings.

generic (author)2008-02-01

I wonder, though, why you remove the skins and cores. When I cook with organic tomatoes, I don't remove anything but the stem, and even then I only remove the stalk. In sauces, as for pasta, the skin, core, and stem bottoms are indistinguishable from the rest of the tomato mush, so that's why I leave them in. Anyway, thank you for sharing this. I probably won't freeze tomatoes the way you do, but although I've bought large boxes of produces before I've never thought of freezing or canning them. I will definitely keep your Instructable in mind the next time I am buying vegetables. :)

Advocat (author)2008-01-14

Sounds good, although how does this equate to eating food that is only in season? Which to me matters .. sometimes. :-)

jafah (author)2006-09-05

Great Instructable! I've been freezing my tomato crop for a number of years, it's a great way to enjoy them year-round. The one thing I do differently is; I freeze them with the skins on on a cookie sheet. When they are frozen I put them in the freezer bag. When it comes time to use them, I run them briefly under warm water to thaw the skin and they pop right out with very little effort.

thompod (author)jafah2007-08-11

Do you core the tomatoes before freezing them?

gover57 (author)jafah2006-09-05

that's how i do it too, only i just put the tomatoes into a freezer ziplock bag, and freeze them. then when ready to use, i take the required number of tomatoes out of the bag, run them under warm tap water, and the skin pretty much peels and washes off - then they're good to go - this way uses much less energy and time (water boiling....cutting and such)

Bats22 (author)2006-09-05

In the mean time, take a sharp paring knife and insert the tip a half inch (Careful not run it through and stab yourself) A suggestion for anyone doing paring knife coring--hold the blade between your thumb and forefinger (shown below), to provide a 'stop' for the blade--reduces the stabbing-self-per-capita.

techhut (author)2006-09-05

Thanks for the Instructable. I have always loved our garden tomatoes we grow, and they were only available during the Summer. Thanks to you, I can now suggest to my parents to grow more, so we can have them year round!

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