Fall is hitting early and with a vengeance (we’ve had frost warnings the past two nights) and we’re picking a lot of tomatoes right away that we’d otherwise harvest in waves.
Some will still be not-quite-ripe or even green (it’s been a strange growing season), but that’s okay. If they’re close to ripe, just leave them on a sunny windowsill for a couple of days and they’ll continue ripening. That doesn’t always work for the green ones, though — they frequently go bad before they go red. My wife found a trick to get around that, though. She simply puts them in a paper bag with a banana. The ethylene from the banana skin puts them in “ripen” mode, and they turn red in a very short time.
We’d normally just make salsa or roasted tomato sauce with the ripe tomatoes, but we’re going to want to save some for later as well. Canning them is an option, but sometimes you just don’t feel like sterilizing jars, prepping the tomatoes, and putting them in a hot water bath for almost an hour
And then I saw an article from Scratch Magazine about freezing them. It sounded too good to be true, but I kept looking and found another amazing article from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Basically, it says you can do as little or as much as you want. They can be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or pureed. You can leave the skin on or take it off. You can freeze them raw or cooked, as juice or as sauce.
The steps are simple.
- Wash the tomatoes and discard any that have bad spots (or remove the spots, if you want). The tomatoes need to be firm, though.
- Cut out the stem area.
- Put them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer.
- When they are solid, place them in bags. Remove them as you need them.
That’s it! If you want to remove the skins, they slip off very easily when the tomatoes are thawed. The only real difference between fresh and frozen tomatoes is that after freezing, the texture becomes mushy. They will work perfectly fine for any recipe calling for for cooked tomatoes, though, like sauces or soups. You can even can them after thawing them out when you have more time to do it.
Some more options are on the page from the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. They include ways to freeze tomatoes as juice or stewed.
And Making our Sustainable Life has an excellent article about freezing tomatoes… and forgetting them. And what to do with them when you discover them in the freezer.
Happy picking! And may you be blessed with many tomatoes!
This article originally appeared at Examiner.com