Although the growing season is well over in Maryland, I was daydreaming of gardening days and thinking of tips to freezing tomatoes came to mind. Frozen properly, you can have the taste of fresh vine-ripened tomatoes all year long.
If it's whole tomatoes you're wanting, place them stem down on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer 24 hours or until thoroughly frozen. Transfer to a ziplock bag or, even better, use a vacuum sealer to remove the air from the bag and preserve your frozen tomatoes even longer. See the article in the supporting links section below on how to save money with a vacuum sealer.
If you're planning on using your tomatoes in a stewed tomato dish and will be wanting smaller pieces, dice your tomatoes in small cubes. Place in a colander to drain for several hours before placing in a bag for the freezer. You can even add green peppers and onions to your bag is you're preparing your frozen tomatoes for a spaghetti sauce one day.
If you're going to be using your frozen tomatoes to thicken soups and stews, tomato puree is for you. Simply cook your tomatoes down with a little water or chicken stock until thickened. For smaller servings, place the puree in ice cube trays, pop out the cubes once frozen, and place in a freezer bag or vacuum seal for added freshness.
You need to remove the tomato skin prior to freezing and you'll do that with a pot of boiling water and a bowl of iced water. Place a small X in the bottom of the tomato with a knife and submerge in the boiling water just one minute. Remove the tomatoes and plunge into ice water for another minute. The skins should then slide right off. Just place your skinned tomatoes in a freezer bag and you're good to go!
You really need to know when you froze tomatoes in order to use the oldest ones first and preserve what freshness you can. Use a marker and mark the freezer bags with the type of tomato you prepared and the date you froze them. Use the oldest first.
Frozen tomatoes can really brighten the flavor of a a winter stew and will remind you of the salad days of summer. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, I highly recommend you look into purchasing one. The things work wonders on preserving color and flavor of frozen foods.
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