A plump tomato in peak season is a gustatory gift that will make anyone’s palate believe in a higher power—every juicy bite flooding the mouth with its perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. Alas, there are no highs without lows, so when the sun sets on tomato season we head straight for the canned goods aisle and spare ourselves the disappointment of seeing our favorite summer fruit in a flavorless and mealy state. And it’s a fine solution—unless tomato season is in full swing and you have your hands full with more vine-ripened jewels than you can manage. In that case, read our guide for how to freeze tomatoes so you can preserve your precious fruit for months.
How to Freeze Whole Tomatoes
Grape, cherry, heirloom or beefsteak? It doesn’t matter what you’re dealing with, because tomatoes of all shapes and sizes freeze beautifully. Best of all, the process is absurdly easy—no blanching, peeling or chopping required. It might sound too good to be true, but trust us and follow these simple steps. We promise your freezer will be bursting with summer flavor to brighten even the bleakest of winter days.
1. Wash whole tomatoes under cold running water and gently scrub their skin to remove stubborn dirt.
2. Dry tomatoes with a paper towel and transfer them to a wax paper-lined baking sheet.
3. Tuck the tray of tomatoes in the freezer and leave them for several hours. (The time required to flash freeze depends on the size of your fruit, but they should stay on the tray until completely frozen.)
4. Once frozen solid, remove the tray of tomatoes from the freezer and transfer them to plastic storage bags, removing excess air before sealing. Smaller grape and cherry tomatoes can be stored together in a bag, while big boys will need a storage space of their own. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy vacuum-sealing system in place—there’s a clever hack for that. Seal your Ziploc bag almost all the way, leaving an opening just large enough for a plastic straw. Insert the straw into the corner of the bag and suck out as much air as you can before fully sealing.
5. Once you’ve bagged your flash-frozen tomatoes, tuck them in the far back of the freezer so they stay consistently frosty and forever fresh. Frozen tomatoes are actually safe to eat for a long time, but aim to eat them up within three months for best quality.
How to Freeze Crushed Tomatoes
Want to save yourself some future prep work? Keep a stash of crushed tomatoes in the freezer and you’re halfway to dinner.
1. Blanch the tomatoes by dropping them into boiling water for 60 seconds and, using a slotted spoon, transferring immediately into a bowl of ice water to cool. The skin will come off the flesh easily.
2. Once cool, cut the tomatoes into quarters. Add a handful of them into a pot.
3. Gently heat the tomatoes, stirring frequently. Use a spoon to lightly crush them and help them to break down.
4. Add the remaining tomato pieces into the pot and continue to stir. Simmer for about five minutes.
5. Set the pan of tomatoes in ice water to cool.
6. Once your crushed tomatoes are ready for the freezer, ladle this bright red concoction into Ziploc bags. Just make sure to leave a one-inch headspace for when the liquid expands. Use within three months for the best results.
How to Use Frozen Tomatoes
Frozen tomatoes pack a ton of flavor and they work well in almost any cooking endeavor. But the keyword here is cooking. When you’re craving a BLT or a fresh burrata salad, stick with fresh tomatoes because your frozen fruit will most certainly fall short in terms of texture. Beyond that, frozen tomatoes have plenty of culinary potential. Before you make deliciousness happen, defrost larger tomatoes in the refrigerator and remove the skin, which will fall away easily after freezing. Then, prep and cook frozen tomatoes just as you would their garden-fresh cousins to make tempting curries, stews, soups and sauces.