The quickest way to freeze your tomatoes is using your food processor. I used the Cuisinart 14-cup food processor. This machine is a ‘beast’, and in less than 10 seconds, you can process an abundant harvest of tomatoes to freeze for the winter months.
Allow me to share with you how quickly I processed a bounty of tomatoes. Freezing the tomatoes is the easy part, processing them into the sauce is the work part.
Whether you spent your time and resources to grow the tomatoes yourself, or if you traded your hard earned dollars for the best tasting summer tomatoes, you can preserve them with this quick method.
We recently had a truckload of tomatoes from the crop that grew on our arch trellis throughout the summer. You can see how we built the trellis here. Read how to build your own here. We could not keep up with eating the tomatoes. It was growing faster than we could harvest. Neither could we give all away on a regularly basis, so our fridge was piling up with tomatoes. As you well know, the fridge can only delay the rotting process for so long, then nature is bound to take its course.
We had the most delicious orange tomatoes this year! It’s a variety called “Orange Icicle” from Baker’s Creek. We also had a few red tomato varieties, both big tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.
To process the tomatoes, it wouldn’t make much of a difference if you combined the orange and the red tomatoes together. Initially, I processed each colour and variety tomato separately for freezing individual batches. However, in the end I mixed together different varieties of some of the leftover tomatoes.
The quick food processor
My husband, Walter came forth with the great idea to process all the tomatoes one shot! His idea was for us to put the tomatoes in our food processor and then freeze the sauce.
A few months prior, we gifted our kitchen the wonderful help of a food processor. After much research, we settled on the Cuisinart 14-cup food processor. While I had great intentions to make tomato sauce and ketchup, which I would preserve for the wintertime, I was not prepared for this endeavour at this time. I needed to find a way to process the tomatoes quickly before they go to waste.
So we kicked the plan into action.
The quick way for processing
- Set up food processor
- Wash tomatoes
- Inspect tomatoes
- Process tomatoes in food processor
- Label Zip Lock bags
- Pour tomato sauce into Zip Lock bags
- Freeze tomato sauce
1. Set up
With a cleared counter, I busted out the Cuisinart 14-cup food processor and all its tools. I plugged in the ‘beast’ and pulled my tomatoes from the fridge. These tomatoes were stored in a large bowl in the fridge, and I was so happy to finally clear out the fridge space.
Wash your tomatoes. We did not really wash the tomatoes because our garden is generally clean. Just a quick rinse. What I mean by “clean” is that it was not sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides. We also grew the tomatoes on an arched trellis (see here), so they were growing off the ground. Furthermore, it rained in the weeks prior to us picking this crop, so they had a great natural rinse.
This is the time to take a good look at each tomato. Pull off any stems and look for any spots that may have grown mold or began to rot. It gave me an opportunity to feel each tomato and make sure to exclude any that were too “far gone”. You can tell by the way the tomato feels. You have to judge this for yourself. Cut out any rotten sections before adding it to the processing bowl.
Heap the tomatoes into the processing bowl to the fill line. Power on machine and chop – chop – chop. In less than 10 seconds, the tomatoes were well pureed and I had a smooth tomato sauce. It was saucy enough for me to add to a chilli, use as a pizza sauce, or add to curry. This basic tomato sauce can be used to compliment any meal. Simply defrost and cook the tomatoes on stovetop or in microwave with added herbs and spices. An easy and nutritious addition to any meal.
5. Label Zip Lock bags
I add this in as a step, because it is easier to label the zip lock bag before adding the contents. Label each bag “tomato sauce” and add the date. If I remembered each tomato variety and kept the harvests separate, I could also add the kind of tomato variety for interest sake. This would be a nice experiment to discover which tomato variety freeze well as a sauce and how the taste is affected by freezing when cooked at a later date.
6. Pour tomato sauce into Zip Lock bag
Pour the sauce into the Zip Lock bag and seal the bag well. The Zip Lock bag should be filled about two thirds with the processed tomatoes. Once done, repeat steps 2-4 processing the tomatoes.
7. Freeze your tomatoes
Once I had all the tomatoes pureed, poured into Zip Lock bags and labeled, I stacked them into the freezer.
I found it helpful to have a spot in the freezer where I could lay the Zip Lock filled bags flat so that they would freeze in the most space saving manner. Once frozen, I can turn the frozen bags and line them side by side or slide a block in somewhere where a bigger item wouldn’t fit. Do what will work best for your freezer.
A good tip is to separate your bags with a sheet of paper towel. This will prevent them from sticking together and make removal easier.
Alternative to Zip Lock bags
I want to add a note here… I would like to find an alternative to zip lock bags for freezing food. Zip Lock bags are great, but it is always disheartening when I finish using a zip lock bag and toss it in the trash.
The waste of plastic bags is a long discussion and we could discuss pros and cons here, but this post is about preserving tomatoes quickly. However, I am going to find a solution to freeze better in the seasons to come.
Other ways to preserve your tomatoes
Option #1: If you are really pinched for time, you can throw your tomatoes into the Zip Lock bags whole and freeze them that way. Tomatoes freeze well and will defrost in a mushy consistency that is easy to make into a tomato sauce.
Option #2: If you have enough containers and freezing space, you could freeze the processed tomatoes in containers.
Option #3: Take whole tomatoes, place them in the oven and bake them at a low temperature for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and mushy. Let the tomatoes cool before placing into Zip Lock bags (or other containers) and freeze them. Alternatively, the mushy tomatoes could easily be packed into a jar with olive oil to keep in the fridge for a couple months.
Happy tomato preserving Friends.
Leave me a comment if you have other ideas or quick ways to freeze or preserve your harvest of tomatoes.