How to Freeze Tomatoes to Savor Them All Year
If you want to learn how to freeze tomatoes to enjoy that fresh summer flavor all year, this is the right place. We'll take you through all the freezing tomato basics from prep through processing and storage.
Can you freeze tomatoes? Absolutely! Tomatoes are in peak season June through September, that's when to look for fresh garden tomatoes at farmers markets, pick-your-own farms, or to harvest those you grew yourself. When selecting tomatoes for freezing, look for ones that are firm and richly colored. They should be free from blemishes, heavy for their size, and have a fragrant aroma. Tomatoes that are perfectly ripe will give just slightly to palm pressure. We'll teach you how to freeze garden tomatoes so you can save your extras for the months to come, and we'll also share tips for freezing whole tomatoes and freezing tomatoes without blanching.
Most varieties of tomatoes can be frozen. However, plum (roma) tomatoes contain the most pulp and will produce the best results. If you don't plan to freeze your tomatoes immediately, store them at room temperature. Avoid storing fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator, which can make them lose flavor and become mealy.
Test Kitchen Tip: Plan on 1 quart of frozen tomatoes per 2½ to 3½ pounds of fresh tomatoes.
How to Freeze Soon-to-be-Used Tomatoes
If you plan on using your frozen tomatoes within a month or two, you can freeze them pretty quickly without much prep (no need to peel them). Just follow our instructions for how to freeze tomatoes without blanching:
- If you're using roma tomatoes, core them and remove the seeds. Chop your tomatoes into ½- to 1-inch pieces.
- Line a large rimmed baking pan ($35, Crate & Barrel) with parchment paper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on the pan. Freeze 4 to 6 hours or until firm.
- Transfer the tomatoes to labeled and dated airtight containers or freezer bags ($12, Target). Freeze up to 2 months.
How to Blanch Tomatoes for Longer Storage
Blanching is a heat-and-cool process. It stops or slows natural enzymes in the tomatoes that could cause loss of flavor and color. Blanch tomatoes before freezing if they'll be in your freezer for more than a couple months. Blanching your tomatoes also makes easy work of peeling them. Here's how to do it.
- Fill a large 7- to 8-quart pot ($60, Bed Bath & Beyond) with 1 gallon of water; bring water to boiling.
- Using a sharp knife ($50, Target), cut a shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. This encourages the skin to split during blanching so you'll be able to slip off the skin easily with your fingers once the tomatoes have cooled.
- Working in 1-pound batches, immerse tomatoes in the boiling water.
- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the tomato skins split open.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water.
Peel and Freeze the Tomatoes
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use a knife or your fingers to peel the skin off the tomatoes.
- Using a small sharp knife, cut out the stem end from the peeled tomatoes.
- If desired, halve, slice, or chop tomatoes (you can also freeze whole tomatoes).
- Spoon the tomatoes into freezer containers or bags, leaving 1-inch headspace.
- Seal and label the container or bag.
- Freeze for up to 10 months.
How to Freeze Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes are great for adding to sauces because a lot of the prep work has already been done. Follow the instructions above to wash and peel your tomatoes, then start here.
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place a single layer of tomatoes in a large pot.
- Lightly crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
- Heat and stir the tomatoes until boiling.
- Slowly add the remaining tomato pieces, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Set the pan of tomatoes in ice water to cool.
- Fill your freezer containers ($7, Bed Bath & Beyond), leaving 1-inch headspace.
- If desired, add ¼ to ½ tsp. salt for pints or ½ to 1 tsp. salt for quarts.
If you're running out of room in your freezer, don't panic! You can still save your garden-fresh summer tomatoes for later in the year. Use our Test Kitchen methods and tips to learn how to can tomatoes to store in the pantry.
If you're wondering how to use your tomatoes once you've stocked your freezer, there are a lot of different dishes you can make with them, such as fresh marinara sauce, tomato soup recipes, and other recipes for tomato sauce. But since freezing changes the texture of the tomato, you'll want to avoid using frozen tomatoes in recipes that call for fresh (like salads and sandwiches). Stick to tomato sauces, soups, and stews to make the most of your frozen tomatoes.