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Works For Me Wednesday: Making the Most of an Abundant Tomato Supply

While our container garden crop of tomatoes was less than stellar this year, we were blessed to be the recipients of many tomatoes from our friends' gardens. I never turn down garden-fresh produce–especially when it's free!

After eating lots of fresh tomatoes, using them in salads, and making fresh tomato juice in our juicer, we've been freezing the extra ones to use during the Fall and Winter months.

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To freeze tomatoes, just wash, core, and cut off any bad spots. Then stick them on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are frozen. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag and store them in the freezer.

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When you're ready to use them, all you have to do is run the frozen tomatoes under warm water and the skin falls right off. Once they thaw a little, you can easily chop them and then use them in place of canned tomatoes in recipes.

Using frozen tomatoes is much less expensive than buying canned tomatoes, much fresher, and much more nutrient-rich! It works for me.

What are your favorite ways to use up a bountiful tomato supply?

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51 Comments

  • Thanks for your tips–I will have to try this. I’m swimming in peppers and apples right now, and I still have some tomtoes I need to deal with. I usually can them (peel, seed, dice) but the process is somewhat long, and I just do not have time right now.

  • Betsy says:

    We, too, have been blessed by friends giving us mounds of fresh, homegrown tomatoes. Here’s what I have done to make the most of them: Place them in boiling water for 45 sec., remove from hot water and plunge in cold water. This way the skins easily come off. Remove most of the seeds and quarter. Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in olive oil. When slightly brown, add tomatoes with some of the juice. Add basil (fresh, if possible), a little salt, pepper and oregano. Simmer for at least 1 hour. Cool. Place in freezer bag or container and freeze. Makes EXCELLENT sauce base for pasta or soups.

  • Sue B says:

    I recently came across a Tomato Basil Soup recipe that was delicious. So I’m making soup and freezing it for winter.

  • ronda says:

    We eat a lot of salsa in our house and my family is picky about how it tastes, so buying with coupons never happens for salsa. I try to find time to make salsa and can it. It usually makes a lot and lasts a good 6 months. Worth the time it takes for our family!

  • Mitzi says:

    That is so helpful! I was out in my garden this morning wondering what do do will all these tomatoes that keep growing! I was going to can salsa next year but by freezing them I don’t have to get the canning equipment! Wonderful!

  • Betsy says:

    Do you waterbath can your salsa or do you pressure can it? I love canning tomatoes, but the blight wiped us out this year. 🙁

  • Aimee Bacon says:

    I have made a lot of salsa this year.
    Check out my latest batch and garden recap at:
    http://surviving-as-a-single-parent.blogspot.com/2009/09/salsa-batch-6-garden-recap.html

  • Jenna says:

    I just tried this for the first time yesterday – I’m so glad to know that it works!

  • April says:

    For this posting by Sue B. Do you have a recipe that you use for your canned salsa? Thanks April

    Posted by: Sue B | September 30, 2009 at 09:53 AM

    We eat a lot of salsa in our house and my family is picky about how it tastes, so buying with coupons never happens for salsa. I try to find time to make salsa and can it. It usually makes a lot and lasts a good 6 months. Worth the time it takes for our family!

  • Erin says:

    Awesome idea! I don’t have any tomatoes growing in my garden yet (i’m in so cal near the beach so I have a little more time to grow a batch before it’s get too chilly).
    BUT, I will freeze any extras. Thank you for sharing this, especially the pictures and directions-they really help.

  • holi easey says:

    I found this method out of desperation last year, when I had so many tomatoes! Works wonderfully! And I have made salsa with the 1/2 frozen tomatoe’s, 1/2 frozen jalepeno’s too!

  • Christina Vollmer says:

    Thanks for posting this, I blanched my tomatoes and peeled them like Betsy had mentioned before I froze them. But does anyone have ideas of what to do with an over abundance of peppers? I have already prepared 5 meals of stuffed peppers and froze them for busy nights, but I don’t really know what to do with the rest. Thanks! 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I water bath canned 18 quarts of salsa this year. We love to eat it in the dead of winter! I have also found that pureeing the whole tomato in my blender gives me a lot more product and is much quicker. It’s a bit more watery, but we don’t mind! I love the idea of freezing the whole tomato. It’s getting cold here in Eastern Iowa and I need to get the rest of my tomatoes out of the garden before the frost kills them. This is a great, quick idea for taking care of the remaining tomatoes! Thanks!

  • We like to make Caprese salad http://theprudenthomemaker.com/capresesalad.aspx

    Eat tomatoes on pizza:
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/pizza.aspx

    If you have enough to can, you can can your tomatoes and use them later. I use canned tomatoes in these recipes but you can use fresh ones instead:
    Tomato Basil Soup http://theprudenthomemaker.com/tomatobasilsoup.aspx
    Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/tuscantomatobreadsoup.aspx

    These are just a few of the ways we eat tomatoes.

    We’re excited that it is cooling down today, which will mean it will be cool enough for our tomatoes to set fruit again. Last year our frost came a month late and we were picking tomatoes until mid-December.

    When you’re close to a frost, pick all of your green tomatoes and bring them in to ripen inside. We had tomatoes until January of this year by picking tomatoes before the frost in December. You can keep them in a cool place (our garage is 55º), checking them regularly for ripening. Some people like to keep them covered with newspaper, but this makes them a little harder to check for ripening.

  • Amanda says:

    I roasted my roma tomatoes (cut in half) in the oven with a little olive oil and pepper at 170 degrees for 12 hours. It shrinks them down fairly small and then I just put them in a freezer bag and place in the freezer. When I need to add a little zip to any recipe, I can pull out a handfull of roasted tomatoes and add to the sauce or casserole. They have great concentrated flavor and make any dish feel extra special!

  • Julie says:

    We can’t get our peppers to stop producing! I just wash, chop and freeze… I will put them in salads, on pizza, in omelets, saute in sauce…. they will be in EVERYTHING this year!!

  • Jessica says:

    We got a bumper crop this year, most of them coming in the past 3 weeks or so as the weather has cooled some. We’ve canned peeled tomatoes, made about 5 batches of homemade chili in various varieties, and have about 10 cans of salsa ready for winter.

    Peppers…they just didn’t do well this year.

  • Brenda says:

    We love tomatoes–my favorite part of summer/fall vegetables that are in abundance. We like them in bruschetta (chopped tomato salad on top of broiled french bread), tomato-fresh mozzarella-basil open-faced sandwiches drizzled with olive oil & a balsamic vinegar reduction, salsa (i use #9272 at http://www.recipezaar.com), tomato-cucumber-red onion salad (drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper), etc. If I have an abundance, I freeze salsa in small containers for later. Thanks for a great new & simple idea for what to do with those extras.

  • Crissy says:

    Because of the cooler weather we have made a lot of soups with tomato bases, like vegetable beef and last night we made chilli. I have also made a few batches of tomato sauce for spaghetti and actually did my first canning of 4 jars, I have more but so many of mine are still green. What can you do with them while they are still green or do you have to wait?

  • Crissy says:

    Also, we used our food dehydrator and made several batches of sun-dried tomatoes, to use in pasta dishes and salads, which are yummy and they will keep in the freezer for months and months.

  • Melissa Stuemke says:

    I was so excited to see this post this morning… I never thought about freezing tomatoes.. very excited as I have about 30 sitting on my counter and 50 people coming this weeknd, this will save me some time..

    Peppers, I always quarter them and freeze on a pan separate and put in bag, then I can do what I want when the winter months come..

  • Holly says:

    I make and can lots of tomato soup. So much better than Campbell’s, which my husband won’t eat!

  • Kelly says:

    We had an abundant supply from our garden this year. I dice them up and put about 2-3 tomatoes in a ziploc bag and freeze. Anytime I make something in the crock pot like chili or spaghetti sauce, I get a bag out and stick them in. Last year I never had to buy a can of diced tomatoes!

  • auch says:

    I make stewed tomatoes and can them. It’s so easy. I put them in chili and spaghetti and anything else I think of. I made salsa last year, but my crop wasn’t as plentiful this year. I use Mrs. Wages mild salsa mix. It’s so easy and tastes good. It takes less time than if you cut up all the ingredients. I pressure can them. yum yum. I just got done freezing 34 quarts of apples to hopefully last a year. I love being able to pull them from the freezer and make apple crisp on cold days. The smell fills the house.

  • Sue says:

    They are out of this world slow-roasted as well.

  • Kim says:

    We have a lot of peppers here. I wash, chop and freeze the green peppers. I don’t think they are good thawed to eat on a salad, but cooking with them, they are good. I take all other peppers leave them whole, bag them and put them in the freezer.
    I started canning this year (well, using the water-bath method) and I have made salsa with my tomatoes. It is healthy and good! We also make our own chips to go with it. Yum!

  • Jenn says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so sorry if I repeat! We had a LOT of tomatoes this year from just 2 plants in our garden. And of course, they all came ripe at the same time! For the ones that I couldn’t use right away, I roasted them and put them in the freezer. Just quarter the tomatoes, mix them with olive oil, fresh basil and oregano, and garlic. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 min. until they’re browning and shriveling:) Then freeze on the sheet and transfer to baggies! They’re great in stews or sauces or lasagna!

  • Katie says:

    Hi,

    I make chutney with my tomatoes – I’ve made some for Christmas presents. Recipe is as follows:
    1 large onion
    2 red peppers
    700g of tomatoes (take out the seeds but keep the skins on)
    4 cloves of garlic
    2 tsbp grated ginger (a chunk the size of wine corks)
    1/2 tsp cumin seeds (lightly crushed)
    1 tbsp of coriander seeds (lightly crushed)
    4 tbsp of soft brown sugar
    2 tbsp red wine
    2 tbsp olive oil
    juice and zest of two oranges

    Chop all the veg, garlic, ginger and tomatoes up in tiny cubes (put to one side). Heat a pan up and put in the herbs (coriander seeds, cumin). When you can smell the fragrance of the herbs add all the veg, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, vinger, olive, sugar, orange juice and zest.

    Bring to the boil and then simmer for around 30 mins or until you can divide the mixture and the mixture stays divided. leave to cool and add into sterilised jars. Add olive oil to the top, cover with clingfilm and screw on the lid.

    You can enjoy this with cheese.

  • sarah says:

    i am sure you are inundated but here is my blog with a recent plethra of tomatoes i had
    http://sapperfamily01.blogspot.com/2009/09/good-winter-warmer-recipe.html

  • I don’t bother flash freezing them first, I just put them in a bag and freeze. They do OK separating when you just need a few. I also freeze when I don’t have enough to make a whole batch of salsa or spicy tomato juice or whatever – and I especially freeze when I don’t have time to can but the tomatoes are getting too ripe. My post on it is here. (And in that post I also write about freezing green pepper in “pucks” for soup and whatnot.)

  • Hi there! We have also been blessed with an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies (our garden was ruined with excessive rain). We did, however, have some pepper plants survive the rain-pour! I was wondering if anyone is willing to tell me if you are also able to store (without canning) squash, watermelon, bananas, onions red and green peppers? As a small child my mother and I canned and I loved the experience, but I am looking for a method that is a lot less time-consuming. If you all have any tips for me, I’d love to hear them! Thanks! Kassandra Charleston, SC

  • Clara Auty says:

    Tomatoes: dehydrated/”sundried”, stewed/canned, salsa, sauce(frozen)
    Peppers: frozen chopped
    Bananas: frozen for bread or smoothies, dehydrated for chips

  • (Sorry, I orginally posted this comment to the wrong post…oops) What a great idea! I always spend hours, blanching and peeling and either making sauce right then or squashing and freezing the fresh tomatoes. I can hardly wait to try this next time I am blessed with an overabundance of tomatoes. Thank you!

  • Sheila says:

    I’ve been making up batches of stewed tomatoes with onions & garlic and canning them. I used stewed tomatoes all the time time for cooking, so this such a moneysaver! Especially if you get the jars at garage sales throughout the summer.

  • Annie says:

    Since no one else mentioned this…we made our own tomato PASTE!!! My husband’s Italian grandmother’s spaghetti sauce calls for tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes. Seeing as I had a TON of tomatoes, I made 5 batches of it, froze them in ice cube trays (2 Tbsp. ea) and then put them in ziploc bags. They’re ready to make the sauce anytime I want, also great to throw into a pot of soup. I’ve NEVER in all my life had sauce as good as this sauce, made with the fresh tomato paste!!

    Peppers – chop and freeze. Great to throw into a curry, stir fry, soup, the crock pot, etc.

    Banana – peel and freeze! Great for muffins, smoothies, breads, etc.

    Summer Squash – chop and freeze. Just like you’d find in the frozen veggie section of the grocery store. Great steamed.

    Winter squash – roast/steam, put it in the food processor and freeze in ice cube trays for baby food OR in quart-sized ziploc for casseroles.

  • Kassandra,

    You can can bananas as well and use them in banana bread, or as baby food, or in smoothies.

    Email me if you have questions.

    brandy @ theprudenthomemaker.com

  • christy says:

    How do you core a tomato?

  • Theresa Barfield says:

    I choose a really way to freeze some tomatoes from my garden. Just core, remove bad spots and put them in the blender! So far we’ve made some wonderful chili and homemade vegetable soup. The peeling are shredded and just add a bit more fiber!

  • Jennifer says:

    This year I picked 30-40 tomatoes a couple of different times. That is way too many for us to eat. So I decided to make pizza sauce. I pureed the tomatoes and then cooked them down with lots of garlic and basil for about 2 hours. I canned the sauce and it is the best sauce I have ever had. It tastes like we are eating a fresh tomato on our pizza. I am definitely doing that again next year.

  • Great Post! And, thank you to everyone who helped me with my question. What love!!! That is why I love this blog! ~Kassandra

  • Christy Carden says:

    Homemade salsa–it is great to bring to pot-lucks and tastes so much better with fresh tomatoes.

    Tomatoe pie.

    Tomatoe, mozzarella, basil salads!

    The freezing tips are great!

  • Samantha Valenzuela says:

    Quick question can i “can” them after freezing them???
    THANKS!!! I am such a newbie to this!!

  • Sam says:

    I’m similar to Annie in approach… freeze them in ice cube trays.
    Instead of making paste tho, I blanch to peel, then puree them (seeds included) in the food processor. That way, when I take them out of the trays, I can make sauce, paste, stock, etc depending on what I’m planning on making. Very versatile.

    As an added effort to prolong, I use my vacuum sealer instead of ziploc bags for the cubes.

  • Mandy says:

    i just posted a sauce recipe using an over abundance of cherry tomatoes! http://creativecents.blogspot.com/2009/09/sauteed-cherry-tomato-sauce.html

  • Laura says:

    I make tomato juice, can or freeze it (I can it if I have enough quantity, but if it’s just a little, I freeze it) and we make tomato soup with it. It’s really good, frugal and easy.

    I also made lots of chili sauce this year (from the Ball Blue Book) and it turned out beautifully. I did so much canning this year that I ran out of some sizes of jars – what a blessing!

    http://www.tenthingsfarm.blogspot.com

  • Rita says:

    My father-in-law freezes his tomatoes with skins on. Maybe I’ll have to give it a try after all.

  • Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for this information. Michigan weather has not been kind to my tomatos but I just picked quite a few (not enough to can though) I really had no idea that they could be frozen. I did this today and it was SO easy! I’ll look forward to pulling them out this winter!

  • Jana says:

    I can my tomatoes. I make salsa, jalepeno & diced tomatoes, Italian diced tomatoes, and pasta sauce. I also dehyrdate some so I can toss them into soups or grind them down into powder for dips.

  • Nancy says:

    BLTs!!! I crave them all winter long.

  • Krista says:

    never ever thought of this, what a great idea thanks!!

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