Imagine having bright, ripe summer tomato flavor cheer you up in the dark days of winter. Freezing tomatoes isn't only super easy, it's also a fabulous way to preserve their fresh tomato flavor to enjoy after tomato season is over. There are two basic methods for freezing tomatoes—one for freezing fewer fruits and one for freezing many at one time. Both involve simply putting the fruits in the freezer. Once the tomatoes are frozen, the skins aren't good for eating; you can remove them before or after freezing.
How to Freeze Just a Few Tomatoes
This method works for freezing one tomato up to as many that will fit in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag. Place the tomatoes in a single layer inside the bag. Seal the bag most of the way, then suck out as much air as possible—you can use a straw to do this, if you like. Seal the bag and put it in a freezer, positioning it so the tomatoes aren't squashed together and remain in a single layer. Let the tomatoes freeze completely before moving the bag. Once they are frozen, they can be bunched together to take up less space.
You can also use this same technique to freeze extra fruits one at a time during the tomato season. Keep a less-than-full bag of frozen tomatoes in the freezer, and just pop in tomatoes you can't eat quickly enough, adding more as they make their way into the kitchen but don't get eaten. Just remember to freeze the new fruits in a single layer.
How to Freeze a Lot of Tomatoes at Once
If you have a lot of tomatoes to freeze, it can be more efficient to freeze them on a cookie sheet before putting them into bags. If you were to put a bunch of fruits into a bag to freeze, those in the middle wouldn't freeze as quickly as those on the outside, and the faster things freeze, the better.
To ensure tomatoes freeze as quickly and evenly as possible, put tomatoes in a single layer on a baking tray and put them in the freezer for a few hours to freeze through, then transfer them into bags. As with the bag technique, remove as much air from the bag before sealing it to ensure freshness.
Do I Need to Prep the Tomatoes for Freezing?
Note that there is no need to peel tomatoes before freezing them—the skins will slip right off after being frozen. However, if you want to peel your tomatoes before freezing, you certainly can. Similarly, if you want to cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds, you can, but you certainly don't have to. It's really a question of doing the work now or later.
Some home cooks believe that tomatoes that have been peeled and de-seeded before they are frozen maintain a slightly better texture. The difference is slight enough, though, to make the case to continue to just freeze them whole and deal with any peel or seeds later, depending on how you end up using them.
How to Use Frozen Tomatoes
While frozen tomatoes will retain a great fresh tomato flavor, their texture will be too compromised to be used raw. In other words, a Caprese salad isn't the best plan. The better way to use frozen tomatoes is to add them to any recipe that calls for cooking or processing fresh tomatoes, such as tomato sauce, tomato soup, or tomato puree. You can also add frozen tomatoes directly to other types of soups and stews for some color and flavor or use them for chili or salsas.