Too Many Tomatoes?

Too Many Tomatoes?

It takes what feels like a million years to get 1 ripe tomato, and then suddenly my vines are heavily laden with red, ripe beauties.

Once you’ve had your fill of salsa, pizza, spaghetti, chili, and Caprese salad (or your heartburn needs a break), what do you do?

Give them Away

Give away tomatoes to your friends and neighbors. Cultivating that sense of community is always welcome. Of course, if you left the tomatoes on the vine a touch too long and you aren’t sure your neighbors enjoy flicking ants off overripe fruit, this may not be the best thing to do.

Can Those Tomatoes

I used to do this. I did. I spent the time parboiling the tomatoes to peel the skin and then added citric acid to each carefully-filled hot sterile jar and full-on pressure-canned many jars of tomatoes.

It’s a ton of repetitive, time-consuming work. And in the end, you get long-lasting shelf-stable tomatoes in jars…that are pure mush when you go to use them. Home canning does not improve on the texture.

Needless to say, I don’t can my tomatoes anymore.

Freeze Those Tomatoes

This is what I do now. It’s faster, easier, and needs less special (or, at least, less specialized) equipment.

A wonderful site–homegrown tomato sauce, ready to freeze for recipes for months to come!
  1. I stem and roughly chop (like into 4 pieces) the tomatoes.
  2. I cook them until they break down and the skins are mostly off.
  3. I run them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins (my kids will not stand for tomato skins).
  4. I put them into canning jars, add lids, and then freeze.
My old-school food mill on the left has the skins and seeds. Not much waste, and over a gallon of smooth tomato sauce on the right.

A few things to consider if you want to try freezing plain, milled tomatoes:

  • There are plastic reusable canning-jar lids that work well for this and other Mason jar storage purposes. They have them seasonally at Target and you can also check out these leak-proof lids at MasonJars.com
  • Wide-mouthed straight-sided jars are recommended for freezing so that frozen material will not expand and break the curves of the rounded jars. I use both kinds of jars because I like to live dangerously! But also, I fill the rounded jars with less liquid and freeze them first in my normal freezer before adding them to our deep freeze.
  • A canning funnel (like my blue one below) is ideal for filling jars (go figure!)
  • You can also freeze roasted pumpkin if you have an abundance, which is great because you actually CANNOT safely can pumpkin at home (it’s too dense)
  • Dry-erase crayons are great for labeling jar lids–the writing stays unless you use some elbow grease, so they don’t get wiped clean by accident the way dry erase markers would
  • If you cook the milled sauce down and reduced it enough, you’ll end up with tomato paste, which can also be frozen. You should freeze it in smaller servings, depending on how you use tomato paste, like 4-oz jars or in an ice cube tray
Filling my storage jars with tomato sauce. Notice the small-mouth rounded-shoulder jars have less sauce inside than the wide-mouth smooth-sided jar.


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