18.8.09

WFMW: Preserving your tomatoes


I thought canning tomatoes was going to be hard. Like, too hard hard. But I found a simple trick that lets you preserve your tomatoes without worrying about air pockets or water levels or whether a boil is roiling: Don't cook them!

I thought you had to "can" to preserve, but you can simply and efficiently store your tomatoes in the freezer for a good six months. Just blanch them (dunk in boiling water for about a minute) and then drop them in a big bowl of ice water. The skin will fall off. Then throw them in a blender or food processor and give 'em a spin.

Here's the awesome part. You just dump the contents into a big freezer bag, label it, and throw it in the freezer. (Okay, lay. You'll want to store it flat.) I didn't know it could be so easy! You should leave about an inch of space at the top and make sure you get out the extra air ... but that's it.

From this state, you can easily make sauce, add tomatoes to soups or dishes, or throw the tomatoes into salsa.

Bonus tip: I've also learned to clean and slice peppers (banana, jalepeno, bell) and lay them flat on a cookie sheet. Freeze them, give'em a bonk against the countertop to release them from the pan, and toss 'em into another freezer bag. When they're frozen individually like this, you can grab a handful for cooking or just toss them into a salad. They thaw so quickly that they're table-ready in just a few minutes!

Easy-peasy preservation works for me. What works for you?

9 comments:

  • Holly

    Wow, even I might be able to do that! Unfortunately, we don't have our own tomato plants this year, but I've been buying homegrown from a guy down the street and could try some of those.

  • Buffie

    I need to try freezing some of my produce individually like that. It would be great to be able to just grab a handful of whatever when I need it instead of having to thaw out the whole bag.

  • Jessica

    Great idea! Last year I used an Alton Brown recipe to make roasted tomato sauce but it was time consuming and I didn't love the flavor. I'll have to try this!

  • SGiles

    I used to can every year when we lived in Maine, so if you ever decide to give it a go, let me know. I'd be happy to answer any questions!!!! It's not hard, just time consuming.

  • Kelly @ The Miller Mix

    Sharon - I took a canning seminar so I learned how. It's just ... technical. Like, you have to get the air bubbles and pack but not mush. I'm more of a convenience preserver -- and I'm not trying to make something to last for years.

    Buffie - Individual freezing is my new best friend. I love how simple it is. I've always done it for berries, but now I'm freezing all my veggies, too. Good thing I have a deep freezer!

    Jessica - I still have no idea how to make sauce (will cross that bridge when I get to it). I'd love to read your favorite sauce recipe!

  • Raise Them Up

    I do our peppers that way and it's wonderful to have them on hand through the winter. They are so expensive these days!

    I need to do up some tomatoes that are getting away from me.

    Great tips!

  • marlynn

    This is perfect! Everyone I know is canning these days it seems but it just seems so time consuming for me, and I don't have a lot of time! We always freeze all the berries we pick during the summer and I always wondered about freezing tomatoes. Thanks for the tips!

  • Suburban Turmoil

    You're making me reconsider canning. It always seemed WAAAAAY too difficult for me to even THINK about.

    Hmmmm...

  • Kara

    Great tip! I've done this before and it works well! I freeze mine is smaller bags so that each one is about the equivalent of a can. Then, when making a recipe, I can just pull out one baggie to replace the can called for!

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