Thursday, September 04, 2008

Preserving the Harvest: How to Freeze Tomatoes the Really Easy Way (And Why I Don't Do Much Canning Anymore)


Summer sunshine saved in seconds

For many people, late summer means canning season. It's time to stop stuffing our faces with all of this glorious seasonal bounty and stuff it into jars so we can enjoy it come winter instead. It's a wonderful time of year—except for the actual canning part.

When I moved from urban Northern California to a rural Missouri farm 14 years ago, I planted an enormous kitchen garden and looked forward to my first official canning season with gleeful anticipation.

I admired my inexpensive new boiling water bath canner, stockpiled cases and cases of jars, made sure I had the correct number and type of the special two-part lids, and even bought a handy accessories kit that promised to make my canning adventures a thousand times easier (which it did).

I earmarked nearly all the pages in my trusty home preserving book for beginners and cleared off shelves to store my stash. And then I started canning everything in sight.

I put up dozens of quarts of dill pickles and enough red and yellow tomatoes to make pizza and pasta sauce for at least a couple of years. I made vats of tomato salsa and tomatillo enchilada sauce, and when frost threatened in fall I turned my unripe tomato bounty into this salsa-like green tomato relish, which is one of my most popular recipes.

I bought peaches by the bushel and cooked up enough filling to fill more peach pies and cobblers than I knew I would ever eat. I gathered feed sacks full of apples and pears from a friend of a friend's neglected fruit trees using one of those long-handled grabber thingies, then spent the next couple of weeks cooking up big batches of applesauce, apple pie filling, and several cases of a special creation I christened Autumn Harvest Chutney.

This I bestowed upon friends and family during the holidays until I realized nobody had a clue what to do with it. (I mostly ate it straight from the jar.) I even processed half-pints of homemade lemon curd before I figured out I could polish off an entire batch long before it went bad in the fridge.

One year I turned an eggplant overflow in the garden (my first and last) into caponata, but when I called the 800 canning hotline for processing directions I was sternly informed that I couldn't put up jars of caponata. "Oh yes I can!" I said, hanging up and taking my chances. (I lived.)

After a surprising purple cabbage bounty one spring, I made four pints of pickled purple cabbage. When I fed some to my foodie mother she said, "It tastes something you'd get in an English pub." I was afraid to ask if she meant it as a compliment.

I reveled in my self-sufficiency and would sneak into the crowded pantry (also known as the spare bedroom, the office, my graphic design work area, and the recording studio) to admire the rows and rows of glistening jars that were—unlike the green beans and sweet red peppers and blueberries I'd put in the freezer—safe from spoilage even if there was an extended power outage. I sliced and diced and peeled and parboiled and sweated to within an inch of my life.

And then I got tired of canning.

The truth is, as much as I loved having all those jars of food around, I don't really miss them that much. Over the years I've started doing more year round eating straight from the kitchen garden rather than by way of the pantry.

Last fall I grew several types of hardy greens that lasted well into December, and after they were gone I proceeded to enjoy salads of freshly picked arugula and Swiss chard and from my homemade greenhouse for much of the winter.

I eat my fill of fresh peaches in summer and slice up apples for pies in fall. And besides, I've probably had enough dill pickles and Autumn Harvest Chutney to last me for the rest of my life.

I love knowing how to can, and I'm glad I have the option, but these days I don't let it overwhelm me.

What I'll never stop doing, however, is preserving tomatoes, although now I usually take my chances with the freezer. But it takes an amazing amount of paste tomatoes to fill a quart container, so when I don't have enough to make the whole blanching, peeling, and seeding process worthwhile—or if I'm feeling particularly lazy—I simply stick the tomatoes in a zipper bag, toss it into the freezer, and I'm done. Yep, that's it.

In a pinch you can even freeze big old round tomatoes, but they do take up a lot of space.


Frozen whole tomatoes are the slow cook's winter friend

Whole frozen tomatoes will not, of course, defrost into the sturdy slicers they once were, but they're perfect for cooking down later into sauce or tossing into soups, stews and cozy Dutch oven dinners, such as these slow-cooked lamb shoulder roasts (lamb shanks will work great, too).

If you don't feel like waiting until winter to try this recipe and have some fresh tomatoes on hand, by all means toss them in.

So how do you preserve the harvest? Canning? Freezing? Digging up memories of summer while living on winter root vegetables? Do you have any time-saving secrets to share?

© FarmgirlFare.com, the seasonal foodie farm blog where over the years I may have become a little lazy in the canning department, but the freezers and our tummies always stay happily full.

63 comments:

  1. Ah, canning. It's better with a friend. I did it alone for a few years and got tired of it, too. Then my neighbor had too many hot peppers this year. We made salsa and hot pepper jelly. And we were hooked again. Zucchini pickles were last week, with blueberry jam (blueberries, shockingly, were 10 pounds for $2 at Soulard Market last week). Since my tomatoes refuse to blush this year, I assume I'll be making your wonderful salsa verde in October.

    Something about this summer--not too hot, and the economy feeling weird to me--made me want to can. I do freeze, though, too. At my CSA, I tell them I'll take the gigantic butternut squash eveyrone else has rejected already. Half goes in the coconut curry soup, half gets chunked into bags for the freezer. I freeze pesto (canning it would ruin it) and tomato sauce. I freeze fresh surplus garden stuff from other people--like zucchini. And two years ago with my own bumper crop of jalapenos, I panicked at the end of the season and froze them. It's not like we're eating those RAW anyhow. They cook the same frozen or fresh for my taste.

    Eggplant, though...I feared the canning of the eggplant. So I chunked and froze it this year. Don't know how that will go. I don't even LIKE eggplant. But the CSA had it on the list all of August and I'm not going to say no.

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    1. Try making Baba Ganoush from eggplant (eggplant hummus). I'm not a huge fan of eggplant either, but Baba Ganoush is a very tasty treat with crackers and easily frozen in small batches. Simply stick it in the refrigerator the night before a party for defrosting, and serve the next day.

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    2. I'm trying to freeze tomatoes and then seal them in FoodSaver vacuum bags. Of course, I have to freeze the tomatoes first so they're not crushed during the vacuum process. My question: if there are bad parts on the tomato, is it safe to cut them out and then freeze the tomatoes with the parts cut out of them before the vacuum process?

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    3. Don't be afraid to freeze your tomatoes after cutting. I have had an overabundance of tomatoes each year since I started growing them about 5 years ago. Every year I slice them up, freeze them on a cookie sheet, then bag them. In fact we ended up buying an extra freezer that year! So go ahead, cut them up. The only suggestion I'd make is to weigh them before freezing. I always bag 2lbs at a time because that's the weight that most of my recipes call for or have been adjusted for. Most importantly, enjoy!!

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  2. Freezing tomatoes? You have cured me of my canning desires before I had a chance to act on them!

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    1. I have frozen eggplant with good success. I peel, then slice then dry outside in the sun for about 4 hours, until the surface feels dry, but if you hold it in your palm for 60 seconds it starts to feel damp. There's no need to salt it to bring out the liquid. Freeze on a cookie sheet in a single layer, then pop in a freezer zip lock. Don't over dry, or it tastes kind of rubbery (but still quite edible). I've used it for eggplant paramasian and moussaka.

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  3. Not only do Romas freeze well whole and make great additions to soups and stews, but if you freeze them still somewhat green - they go red in the freezer! I didn't believe my uncle but decided to trust him, threw the green romas into baggies and froze them. Looked in the freezer months later starting to make soup -- they were all red (and delicious)!!

    I freeze most of my produce, as I have a son who loves produce un-processed, even eats it still frozen. But I do make a lot of jam.

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  4. Well, you know I love my canning. But this is the first year I've gone beyond canning just blackberry jam and tomatoes. This year it was pickles and peppers.

    If only our freezer was bigger.

    I've got loads of cupboard (garage, basement) space for jars, but zero freezer space for anything more than one more ice cube. Stupid side by side.

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  5. This is my first garden so I am really enjoying learning, so thanks for all the information. I had a lot of tomatoes off of three plants. Not enough for making sauce like I want to make next year, but enough to enjoy fresh tomatoes since July in all my salads and BLTs. I blanched and froze all my extras when I had too many to eat before spoiling. I did the same with my squash and zucchini. I hope to buy a pressure canner for next year! Rabbits ate all my 1st garden of beans and peas so I have replanted and fenced, hoping for a harvest before it gets cold.

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    1. Next year plant some marigolds next to your beans... this was my first garden year, and someone gave me this tip. It worked wonderfully, I had rabbits in my garden, caught them several times, and they never messed with my beans!!!

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  6. your canning frenzy sounds just like me at the moment: I can once a week and so far have something like 40 quarts of tomatoes (whole, crushed, puree, paste... you name it), lot of peaches, some plums, tomatillos & salsa, pickles (beets, peppers, okras - no cucumber this year: the squash bugs were that bad), lots of jams and jellies. Also fruit vinegar and fruit liqueur. I will make apple sauce sauce starting in a week or two. I also dry tomatoes, hot peppers, peaches, and plums. I also freeze a lot: tomatoes, peaches, berries, melons, green beans, roasted peppers, peas, baked winter squash (those that look like they may not keep long-term), pesto. And I plant a winter gardens with lots of greens and some root veggies. I want to learn how to pickle using fermentation - like sauerkraut: I guess, a project for next year?

    Wonder if the canning kick will also loose its appeal for me?

    Sylvie
    http://www.laughingduckgardens.com/ldblog.php/

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  7. If you have visited my site at all in the last two weeks, you would know the answer to that question, since canning tomatoes is all I ever talk about anymore. Because it's all I ever do.

    I dearly wish I could freeze more, but we have to keep what limited freezer space we have left for all the lamb that will be going in there in a couple of weeks. So I suck it up and do my canning. On the up side, that means I can make your lamb dish with our own lamb and tomatoes in January. Food preservation rules.

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  8. I am all about the freezing. I tried to can tomatoes once, but I was so afraid that I'd done something wrong that we never ate them! Besides, I've read that freezing preserves the nutrients better anyway.

    This year I've made strawberry freezer jam, and, just recently, a ton of tomato sauce (http://www.mybitofearth.net/2008/08/freezer-tomato.html ). My house still smells yummy from it! I'm also thinking of trying apple butter this Fall.

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    1. my mother used to can for 7 kids so oo till blue in the face. She cooked the apples and let half the juice run off. this she saves and made jelly with. the rest of the apples are now more concentrated so the apple butter is thicker like jam. She must have made about a 100 pints each year. When we sold her big house the basememt was still full of jars. Oh we , her kids had already taken what we thought we could use.

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  9. I love canning - at least, like you, in theory! And I love having rows of jars lined up, either full or empty. The full ones are so beautiful, though.

    I can tomato sauce, tomato juice, pickled cucumber and zucchini, jam, and ketchup. This year I'm trying peach jam (which is new for me) and maybe sliced peaches as well.

    In the past, I've only frozen basil, pesto, zucchini for soup, and raw and roasted peppers. We just bought a new freezer (I'm so excited!), so this year I'm also freezing home-baked bread, eggplant parmesan, minestrone (I made a huge pot last night), home-made ice cream, and bags of chopped vegetables. And maybe trying to get some grass-fed meat to freeze.

    I probably won't be freezing tomatoes this year - my tomato plants were really pathetic producers.

    I love your farmgirl fare website, especially all the photos. Thanks for the wonderful stories, too!

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  10. This Freezing of Whole Tomatoes thing was a REVELATION when my mother told me about it. The year before I had sweated my ass off canning a load of tomatoes and like you, as much as I love seeing the beautiful bounty, I just couldn't get excited about doing it again.

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  11. I have been freezing tomatoes for years. I have always had more freezer space than pantry space (although using the spare bedroom escaped me.. NOW I might start canning again!) so freezing was the natural method for me.

    I freeze both paste and regular tomatoes for use in sauces and soups. I par boil them then peel, and toss them in a bag. I squoosh them around with my fingers as I put them in, then lay them flat to freeze so they stack well.

    That's it. Nothing but one parboiling pot to wash, and limited time in the kitchen. BONUS!

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  12. My garden has never been large enough to worry about how I was going to put it up, so I don't have any tips there. However, I do make liters of jam every year (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry) and as much as I love the end product, I hate spending a sweaty, nasty day over a boiling pot during the hottest weather of summer.

    Four years ago I finally had my "A-ha" moment. When berries are in season, I flash freeze them, vacuum seal them, and throw them in the deep freeze. When the cool days of autumn arrive, THEN I make my jam. There is literally no difference in the finished product, but a great deal of difference to my sanity.

    (And I'm sure this "tip" is totally obvious, so I won't tell you how many years I spent making jam in the summer before I figured this out!)

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  13. I still need to make friends with my freezer! My mother canned everything and so do I, I know nothing about freezing anything... so this was good! To bad I didn't find it two weeks ago when I had a zillion cherry tomatoes laying around... Oh well, sharing works too!
    great blog. love to browse...

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  14. You wrote: "Last fall I grew several types of hardy greens that lasted well into December." I have been thinking about doing this very same thing. I live in Illinois, but our climate can't be all that much different than Missouri's. What types of "hardy greens" did you grow?

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  15. Hi Everybody!
    Thanks for all the great comments and for sharing helpful tips and info. I just love reading about your canning (and non-canning!) adventures.

    I'd really like to reply to each of you individually, but I'm hoping to finally get some seeds for fall greens in the ground today. First it was so hot the thought of things like kale and spinach never even crossed my sweat-drenched mind, and now suddenly we're pretty well into September. It shouldn't be too late to start a lot of things, though.

    Hi Laurene,
    My plan is to put up a quick post about growing fall greens from seed in the next few days (along with photos of last December's enormous final bounty), but just in case I don't get to it, here's a quick list of what I planted that made it to December with only floating row covers and old bedsheets for night time protection. There are links to posts with more information for some of these:
    --Spinach
    --All kinds of kale
    --Red Russian kale
    --my favorite Nero di Toscana cabbage
    --Tyfon Holland Greens (fantastic producer I've been buying from Pinetree Garden Seeds for over a decade)
    --Mizuna (wonderful stuff for salads and stir-fries)
    --Beets (even if you don't get bulbs you can still enjoy the baby greens)
    --Escarole & Endive (not quite as cold hardy as the others)
    --And of course my all time favorite, Swiss Chard!

    Okay, I'm definitely behind schedule. I just found this photo of gorgeous fall salad 'greens' (some are purple!) taken on October 4th of 2006 - and everything was direct seeded on August 8th! I definitely need to get digging. : )

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  16. I've never frozen whole tomatoes. This might the year I try it!

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  17. We do a fair amount of canning. Whatever there is in abundance in any given year goes into jars - and it changes from year to year.

    This year there are jars of pie filling made with Clear Jel: Peach, apple and pear.

    Also, wild cherry jam, onion-garlic jam, eggplant caviar, peach salsa, dill pickles, applesauce, tomatoes, etc.

    I can pesto in those 4-ounce jars, too and it is wonderful on sandwiches or pasta.

    We put up several items in the 4-ounce jars and send gift packs to friends and family across the country.

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  18. grandma canned and froze tomatoes so we do the both as well. i love your canning frenzy description and it is so tiring (figgy tired for me right now as we have so many figs and so little time).

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  19. Tomatoes and roasted reds seem to be the only thing worth canning in my home, everything else goes into the freezer in some form or other. I'm so curious about your caponata canning experience? Did it come to fruition and how well did it put up? I have the motherload on my hands right now and my tots refuse another mysterious bite of it on their plates.
    Susan, I love your blog and have read it devotedly for 2 years, enjoyed countless recipes, photos and insights. I'm sorry it took so long to say thanks for being here.

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  20. Hi Susan,
    Your words echo a lot of what I'm feeling right this weekend: this was our first year with a sizable-enough kitchen garden to actually have surplus and I was so looking forward to canning...and while I do still enjoy making little jars of jam, I'm convinced that we'll never get through the endless jars of dill pickles I have...or the peach-ginger chutney I put up just because I wanted to try chutney! It's been really fun to do, and a worthwhile experience, but I think I might selectively choose what I can in future years. I love this idea of freezing whole tomatoes -- right now we are swimming in late-season cherry tomatoes and I hate to think of cooking something with them all now, or them rotting and going to waste. Freezer bags to the rescue! Thanks for the tip, and I always enjoy hearing about what's going on on the farm! :)

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  21. I freeze everything. I used to use ziploc freezer bags, but the stuff would get really bad freezer burn so now i have a food saver and love it. I never learned how to can, but have always wanted to. Especially since I have very little freezer space and have to store most of my stuff at my mum's.

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  22. thx very much for the tip re freezing tomatoes - we'll give it a try today. my wife and i make ~50 cases of jams / jellies from our trees, so garden short cuts like this are appreciated.

    best,
    hal
    www.twobigcats.blogspot.com

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  23. Susan, I could just hug you for sharing this idea! It seems so obvious, but I've never tried to freeze tomatoes.
    I loathe canning and was just this morning stressing over all these tomatoes I need to do something with before the go bad.
    I'm getting the ziplock bags ready and making room for tomatoes in the freezer today.

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  24. I only grow Romas,and have been freezing them for several years now. I just wash and into the freezer they go. I prefer to remove the skins before cooking, just hold under warm water a few seconds and the skin slips right off.

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  25. I used to can, I'd make 3-day sweet pickles and zucchini relish, all sorts of stuff. I'm too busy for it anymore, but I love my freezer. I will make the time to buy a case of corn - I roast in on the ears, then cut it off and freeze it - so wonderful in the middle of winter! I have a food-saver now, too, and I'll be freezing tomatoes for sure. I have these wonderful Genovese toms this year - only one plant, but they're the best of all of them, it's the only tomato I'm planting next year. We're in Seattle - I just got my kale, beets, broccoli plantes, and threw in some peas and lettuce just in case . . .

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  26. wow! i never would have thought u could freeze tomoatoes :):):):)

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  27. I've heard of freezing tomatoes; not a bad thing! But this year I am making a huge attempt to clear out my (deep)freezer, because after years of wanting one and then finally acquiring one (about 4 years ago,used), I starting freezing LOTS; it became an obsession of mine to not only preserve veggies and good deals, but also small containers of leftovers that would come in handy for a quick dinner sometime after I forgot what it tasted like. Which they did, of course...but it does use up the energy. So now I'm back to the jars again...sort of. I've been looking more and more at older ways of preserving foods, older than the vacuum-sealed jars and making use of my crock collection for things other than umbrellas. Have you attempted saurkraut yet?

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  28. I've never used frozen tomatoes before - nor has it crossed my mind - but if it works then I'll give it a go!

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  29. I discovered this site via a co-worker here at Nashville Wraps. I am a blog writer and package consultant by day and a master gardner/cook in my real life. This place is right down my ally! I'll be a regular reader I'm sure.

    One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes is drying. I slice them up, put them in my little round dehydrator and plug it up on my deck to keep the heat out of the house. In about one day they are ready. I bag them up and store them in the freezer because I think they keep longer that way and my kids are grown and it's just myself and my husband at home. Dried tomatoes are expensive at the store and we love them in salad and sauces.

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  30. farmgirl, thanks for posting again!! This post was perfect. I've been wondering about canning/freezing for a long time and now I'm convinced freezing is the way to go. I'm just not experienced enough and am too lazy to can things.

    Btw, I too have gone months without posting on my blog, but will have to do so very soon. My manhattan rooftop garden and I were just filmed for a documentary!

    http://downtoearththefilm.blogspot.com/
    http://nycroofgardenproject.blogspot.com/

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  31. Thanks so much for this tomato tip. I can't wait to try it. I love to grow cherry tomatoes - as they do well in our Central Texas heat. Once I pick them all, I put them on baking sheets, smash them with a fork, then roast them in the oven. When there done, I put them in glass jars, cover with olive oil and store in the fridge. They come in so handy to add to pasta or whatever dish I want. See how here:

    http://marysnest.typepad.com/marys_nest/2008/09/roasted-cherry-tomatoes.html

    All the best,

    Mary

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  32. Thanks so much for sharing this on the tomatoes. I was getting a little desperate with what to do with all of this surplus. I have a big pressure cooker canner but a glass top stove top so can't use it in the house.

    Has anyone put together a relish type mix and then froze that? I'm thinking on doing it but terrified it won't work. Maybe I'm just a big chicken LOL

    Thanks so much! Chris

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  33. This year is the first time I got my husband to throw my large tomatoes in a bag in the freezer as I was away for a couple of weeks. I thought it was best as they would go to waste. Hoping they would be alright. So glad to read your tips and that it does work. What about the little cherry tomatoes. Can I do the same, then use them without removing the skins later? I have made tomatoe relish but have plenty now. Look forward to hear a reply. Lynne (New Zealand)

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  34. Hi Lynne,So glad to hear you're having a bumper tomato crop this year!

    I've never frozen cherry tomatoes, but I don't see why you couldn't. I've frozen smallish paste (plum) tomatoes like you see in these photos, and they came out fine. Just keep in mind that if you want to use your frozen cherry tomatoes for something like sauce, they'll have a much higher pulp to skin ratio than regular tomatoes - just like when you're using them fresh.

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  35. I have frozen my extra tomatoes for many years, but this year I discovered that roasting them first reduces them down in size and greatly increases FLAVOR, so now I roast them with olive oil, garlic, basil and oregano, then freeze them! I am working on a Roasted Tomato post right now.

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    1. This sounds luscious, think I may try some tonite, as I was looking for different things to do with ALL these tomatoes in my kitchen... thanks

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  36. This is great! We've gardened in the past, and preserved, and done all sorts of things. We now have 9 children, and are working on REALLY GARDENING! This tip about just freezing the tomatoes whole is GREAT! Most of what I'd used canned tomatoes for is for sauces anyway. Woohoo!

    We've frozen, canned, and dehydrated. I'm all about the easiest, fastest approach, while retaining as many nutrients as possible.

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  37. In Seattle you never know when a freak windstorm, or like last year and the year before, snow/ice storm will happen(go figure for us eh) so freezing isnt always trustworthy, as you tend to loose your freezer contents so I still can. My freezer space is limited, and after putting up jar after jar of tomato sauce, I'm so thrilled. I can sauce, pepporchinis, jalepanos, applesauce, blueberry/blackberry/raspberry/peach jams, beets and maybe late crop tomato salsa as we're having more tomatoes than ever before with the great weather we've had.

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  38. I just found your site! It's wonderful! I used to can when I was young and eager, but over the years I've fallen to what's easiest. This summer ('09) our tomatoes in parts of the Midwest are just plain awful, no taste, big blight problem, etc., etc. Am drying out the few I have in the oven with olive oil, s&p, and will jar and save with my Food Saver and refrigerate. Hope it works, Farm Girl!!!

    Judy in WI

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  39. Garden bounty is a true blessing. I usually turn my eggplant, garlic, onions and tomatoes into eggplant parmigiana (i don't grow cheese yet) and freeze them in 13x9 pyrex. I do have an extra freezer just for the garden surplus. Eggplant Parm done right is very time consuming so Ive been freezing my tomatoes and also berries for 10 years. Ive actually used 3 year old frozen raspberries and blueberries for making jam and then canned these and kept them an additional year. Ive noticed NO difference.

    Ive done the same with tomatoes for sauce and other dishes. Other than my tomatoes usually having more water and being less ripe than store bought canned tomatoes, a little extra cooking and more tomatoes takes care of that.

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  40. We also had a lack of freezer space, only what in the kitchen unit. We bought a small stand alone and it works great! It was only $125 so the investment was minimal and more than pays for itself in the food you can store... and NOT have to buy over the winter. If you think of the cost of blueberries alone..!

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  41. I'm sorry if this has already been put up but I could'nt read all the comments! A greek lady I met said that she preserves plums (no not toms but what the hey...) by putting them in a bowl with maybe a little water and then putting them in a microwave until just soft and then freezing! Nice and easy lemon squeezy

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  42. I cut my toms up straight from the garden after, washing and drying,put usable amounts in bags,and flattern before putting in the freezer,this way they take up very little space,great for adding to beans,stew's,etc.perfect for making a winter soup.

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  43. I have a zillion large tomatoes on my counter rt. now. Was planning on piercing, dunking in boiling water, cooling and freezing whole, but you all have given me ideas for easier ways. However, I need advice--do you think the microwave method wld work for lg tomatoes? Re roasting-are you just splitting them open, adding the oil, etc., and roasting? Cool, squish up,bag, and freeze? Thanks, everybody! ig

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  44. OMG. My first year with the kitchen garden and I admit canning felt like a LOT of pressure! Now I know that if I can't get it all done, I have an out. Thank you for a great post and some breathing room. :) Great tips. I will be returning often.

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  45. I now roast my tomatoes for canning. I cut them in half - all sizes from large to grape size - place on a roasting pan (like a broil pan base - lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with S&P, dried herb seasoning, drizzle with olive oil - and sometimes with balsamic vinegar - roast in oven at at least 350 for at least 30 min. I then dump the tomatoes into a blender or food processor - turns into delicious sauce for eating or canning.

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  46. So many ideas. My head is spinning! But I'm glad to hear that there are other options besides canning. It's such a huge undertaking. I'm going to the farmer market tomorrow to get some roma's, roast them with the skins on, olive oil, garlic and fresh or dried herbs, bag in my food saver flattened and freeze. I'll be so glad I did once the Jan/Feb winds are blowing and I don't want to hit the grocery store. So many uses: pasta, soups, stews, pizza, braised meat dishes. Wow!! Can't wait to get to the farm market tomorrow.

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  47. Thank you all for the info. I grew four kinds of tomatoes this year. The black one is awesome. But this year, there is a newer one called a current tomato. It's about the size of a,well, a current or blueberry. Our growing season is coming to an end in here in my area and there are a ton of them. I didn't know I could freeze them, but canning them would be more than I could do and they are so small I'd only get a few jars. I've used them to toss in soups and stews and they were great, so I'm glad to hear that I can just freeze them. I also like to toss them in to Chinese food. I grow eight ball and one ball zucchini and the ones we can't eat, we just grate them and freeze for soups and stews as well. But thanks for all the good info about other vegies too. I sure hate wasting them and can't always can everything.

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  48. What a great sight to learn about tomatoes. Enjoyed it so much. Just got a big bag full of green tomatoes and did not know what to do with them besides frying them. Thanks a bunch!!!

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  49. Can't wait for my tomatoes to start turning red so I can start freezing again. I've done this in the past and it's the only way to go! I can my salsas and sauces in the cooler fall weather, along with making my jellies. Now I'm learning more about freezing other vegetables, such as summer squash, green beans, okra, etc. Making pickles is so simple I make them when I get enough little cucumbers. It may be just one pint jar, but I keep the vinegar mix in the fridge and just heat it as I need it. I love summer and all its wonderful bounties! I just picked a basketful of wild blackberries this morning. They are so beautiful in the early morning sun and I'll get to enjoy them all over again in the Fall when making jelly. For now though, a fresh blackberry cobbler sounds awfully good!

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  50. Wow! Just browsing looking at what to do with tomatoes, and thank you for the freezer tip, by the way, but YEA! I have lost my supplier of seeds for Tyfon. Thank you! :)

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  51. Geesh, this is right up my alley. I grow most of my own veg on a very small, extremely messy plot. And laziness in my middle name. After my very first season, I blanched and froze tons of stuff from my garden. What a mess! And how ridiculously work intensive. Thanks to the internet, I learned that you don't have to indulge in this ordeal for most leafy veg - just wash it and throw it into a freezer bag. When used in December, the texture is actually far superior to the blanched mush that you would get otherwise. Supposedly you should only keep it this way for 6 months. Pah, I have done it for a year, and am still alive to write about it.
    By the way, if you have loads of apples and don't know what to do with them, just throw them into the freezer. When defrosted, the texture is quite like baked apples, and is great in winter fruit salads.

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  52. I didnt realize I could have just froze my tomatoes... it would have saved quiet a few of my tomatoes, oh well, I know for next season! this was my first year, and boy did I learn alot!!

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  53. When freezing the tomatoes whole, do I need to deseed them before using in sauces, etc.?

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    Replies
    1. No = just chuck them in whole, in plastic bags. Tomato seeds are MEANT to be eaten.

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