Date: March 1989 (Revised April 1995)
Source: NDSU Extension Service Nutrition Specialists
For most uses, canned tomatoes have a better flavor and texture than frozen tomatoes. Use frozen tomatoes for cooking. Tomato sauces freeze well and are convenient for families who do not want to do home canning.
Whole tomatoes tend to crack and collapse completely when they thaw. If you want to freeze fresh raw tomatoes, try a few with the following method: Slice tomatoes into at least 1/2 inch slices. Put 2 slices of moisture vapor-proof paper between them. Package in rigid airtight containers and fast freeze. Or, put slices on a tray or pan and freeze for two hours or until they are crisp on the outside. Then package.
Don't leave slices unwrapped in the freezer for very long or they will dry out. Frozen sliced tomatoes are one product you should eat in a near-frozen state. You might also want to freeze a few cherry tomatoes. They are good on salads if you eat them while still partly frozen.
Enzymes are released or activated when you cut or crush tomatoes for juice. These enzymes destroy pectin, this allows for the separation or settling of the solids in the juice. This can be minimized if tomatoes are quickly heated as soon as they are cut.
To prepare juice for the freezer, use only sound, fully ripe, highly colored tomatoes. Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and scald for 1 minute to loosen the skin. Remove the skins, cores and any green parts, then heat rapidly to boiling. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes until parts separate easily when poured through a strainer, sieve or food mill. If desired, add one-half teaspoon salt to each quart of juice. Cool and pour into labeled, rigid airtight containers, leaving one inch headspace.
Freeze stewing tomatoes in the same way as juice with these exceptions: peel and quarter tomatoes before stewing. Use low heat. Simmer 10 to 20 minutes until tomatoes are tender. Cool quickly by placing container in ice cold water. Package in labeled, rigid airtight containers and freeze.
If you have a blender, you can easily make a pureed product. Use 3 large or 4 medium-sized raw tomatoes, peel and core. Place them in a blender, and add 1/2 medium onion, one seeded green pepper, one-half teaspoon salt or one tablespoon sugar and blend. Celery and carrots can also be added. Because of pieces being blended into tiny pieces and quickly frozen, there will be a definite separation of water from pulp upon freezing. For better blending of pulp, water and flavor, heat to simmering, cool and package. This puree can be a good base for spaghetti sauce or an addition to chili and meat loaf. It can also be consumed as a beverage, with or without diluting. Pour into labeled, rigid airtight containers and freeze. This liquid can be frozen in an ice cube tray. Pack cubes into rigid containers with 2 pieces of freezer paper between layers. Seal tight and freeze. Thaw as many ice cubes of puree as you need.
If you have further questions, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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