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It's getting late in the season for local tomatoes and I have a ton of extras that I need to do something with. The best and easiest way to preserve fresh tomatoes is to freeze them. Canning is also good, but it can be a lot of work and my schedule is packed, so freezing is my preservation method of choice.
To freeze fresh tomatoes, you need to follow a few steps, but all in all, it's very easy to do and you will be happy you did when the middle of winter rolls around.
1. Wash tomatoes and score the bottoms with a little “x”. Scoring will help the skin peel off easier.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice so that you can put the tomatoes in there immediately after blanching.
3. Once the water is boiling, add the tomatoes to the pot (you may have to do this in batches, depending on how many tomatoes you have).
4. Blanch the tomatoes for 30-45 seconds.
5. Immediately remove the tomatoes and submerge in the ice bath and let cool for 5-10 minutes, adding more ice if needed.
6. Once the tomatoes have cooled, cut the core out and peel the skin off. The skin should peel off without any work.
7. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters (depending on how big they are) and scoop out the seeds. Toss the deseeded pieces into a colander to drain. You want to try to get as much water drained off as possible.
8. Once all of the tomatoes have been deseeded and drained, you can now portion them up and freeze them. I like to vacuum seal them. I find that the Ziploc vacuum sealer works really well and it is very inexpensive, so it makes food preservation that much more economical. Make sure you label and date the packages.
Now, when you want tomatoes for soup, chili, stew, or spaghetti sauce, you will have fresh tomatoes on hand. And, it is a great sense of accomplishment to know that you have preserved your own food. Makes me feel like I am more in control of the ingredients I use for my cooking!