Yes, You Can Freeze Tomatoes in 3 Different Ways

Stretch tomato season indefinitely with these easy tips.

July 27, 2022

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Male hands sorting out tomatoes in multiple shapes and colors

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Male hands sorting out tomatoes in multiple shapes and colors

Photo by: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

By Regan Burns Cafiso and Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

If you've taken a bite of a perfectly ripe, just-picked, in-season tomato you know that it tastes entirely different from those pale and insipid winter imposters. Tomatoes from the grocery store are usually picked before they're fully ripe, and are bred for long-distance travel and lengthy shelf life. The ones from your garden or farmers' market, on the other hand, are grown mainly for flavor.

But even when stored properly, fresh tomatoes don't last long. While canning is great for preserving a bumper crop, the sterilizing, filling and sealing process isn’t for everyone. There is an easier way: You can freeze tomatoes at their peak and enjoy their fresh flavor all year long without a lot of hassle or equipment. We’ll show you three easy ways to do it, plus how to handle cherry tomatoes.

How to Freeze Tomatoes

Always start with perfectly ripe (not overripe) tomatoes. Rinse and pat them dry, then cut out any bruised or brown spots. Remove the stem end by angling a paring knife into the top of the tomato and cutting in a circular motion around the core to remove it like a divot. Now choose the preparation method below that works best for you.

One note: Due to their high water content, tomatoes don't defrost well for use raw — thawed tomatoes get mushy and watery. Plan to use frozen tomatoes in sauces, soups, stews and other cooked dishes. If you want to enjoy your tomatoes raw, you'd better eat them right away!

How to Freeze Whole Tomatoes

Here’s the very easiest way to freeze your tomatoes, no peeling or simmering required. For a truly low-lift technique with big payoff, just follow these two steps.

Step one: Freeze uncovered. If you have time, place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment in a single layer and place in the freezer until solid, 3 to 4 hours. (This keeps the tomatoes individually frozen so you can remove them one at a time.

Step two: Bag and seal tightly. Transfer the frozen tomatoes, or just fresh raw tomatoes, to resealable plastic bags, remove excess air, and stash them in the freezer. Label and date the bags and use the tomatoes within 6 months.

That’s it! Thaw the tomatoes for a few hours in the fridge; the peels will slip off easily, and you can use your fingers to remove the seeds too if you like. In a rush? Run frozen whole tomatoes under warm water to release the skins without having to thaw them first. Either way they’ll be ready for a delicious batch of marinara, pizza sauce or soup.

Healthy food is frozen food for the winter. Containers with frozen tomatoes.

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Healthy food is frozen food for the winter. Containers with frozen tomatoes.

Photo by: elena_hramowa/Getty Images

elena_hramowa/Getty Images

How to Freeze Chopped Tomatoes

The classic method involves blanching and peeling tomatoes first. While it takes a bit longer than some methods, the benefit is that the tomatoes can be used directly from frozen, no last-minute prep required.

Step one: Boil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water.

Step two: Blanch your tomatoes. Have your tomatoes cored at the stem end and score the other end with a shallow X. Carefully lower a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water until the skin loosens and begins to peel back, 1 to 2 minutes.

Step three: Cool and remove skin. Transfer the tomatoes with a slotted spoon to the ice water. When cool enough to handle, rub away the skins and discard. Remove the seeds by digging them out with your fingers if you like.

Step four: Prep and package. Chop or quarter the peeled tomatoes. Pack them into airtight containers or resealable bags, label and date them. Use within 6 months.

For a finished product that works more like canned tomatoes in your recipes, take a few extra minutes for this final step: Bring the quartered tomatoes to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer this mixture to airtight containers, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion. Cool to room temperature, uncovered, then cover and freeze. Prepped this way, your tomatoes will last up to 10 months — or until next tomato season!

How to Freeze Grated Tomatoes

Here's another easy way to prep fresh tomatoes for freezing: Grate them!

Step one: Grate. Holding a tomato at the stem end (no need to core the tomatoes), grate it on the large holes of a box grater set in a large bowl. The skins will mostly stay behind, and you'll be left with a coarse-textured puree.

Step two: Package and freeze. Transfer the puree to airtight containers (leave an inch of headspace at the top to allow for expansion) or to freezer bags. Label and date them and use the tomatoes within 4 to 6 months.

Thaw the tomatoes in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, or use them straight from frozen in soups, stews, pastas and more.

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes on Wooden table

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Fresh Cherry Tomatoes on Wooden table

Photo by: Emilija Manevska/Getty Images

Emilija Manevska/Getty Images

Can You Freeze Cherry Tomatoes?

Cherry and grape tomatoes can be frozen just as successfully as full-sized tomatoes. That’s good news: Even a single plant can provide an almost overwhelming bounty of sweet, delicious mini tomatoes that seem to ripen all at once, and you don’t have to waste a single one!

Step one: Freeze uncovered. Rinse and dry the tomatoes and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Slide them into the freezer until solid, 2 to 3 hours.

Step two: Seal tightly. Transfer the tomatoes to resealable plastic bags, label and date them and freeze them for up to 4 months.

Use them straight from frozen or thaw them for a few hours in the fridge. Just remember that tomatoes have a high water content, so they won’t thaw well for use raw. Even cherry tomatoes will be mushy and watery when defrosted, so skip salads and crudites and use them in cooked dishes. Roasting them on a sheet pan until extra-sweet and concentrated is particularly delicious!

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