We don’t have a bumper crop of tomatoes, but we have more than we can keep up with. So I haven’t had marathon canning sessions, but have periodically put up salsa or tomato sauce for next winter as the pile has increased. This weekend I knew I had to deal with the tomatoes before we started losing some, so I went to bed Saturday night planning to can tomatoes first thing Sunday morning. When I got up, however, I simply couldn’t bring myself to spend a chunk of time prepping them, and then another hour-plus processing them in a hot water canner. So I spent five minutes prepping them to freeze, and now we have another gallon Ziploc bag of tomatoes waiting for next winter.
To freeze tomatoes: Cut out the stem end, as well as any blemishes (such as slight brown spots that are starting). Don’t worry about imperfections on the skin because you’ll be peeling them later. Freeze the tomatoes on a tray; they shouldn’t be touching. In several hours when they’ve frozen to hard balls of summer goodness, put them in a zipper bag in the freezer.
To use frozen tomatoes: Take out the tomatoes you need and run them under warm water for about 15 seconds. The skin will peel right off. Then chop up the still-frozen tomatoes and use them in whatever’s for dinner: soup, stew, risotto. I like chopping them frozen because the pieces unfreeze quickly, and I can chop them quickly and evenly. In recipes, the chopped frozen tomatoes act just like canned chopped tomatoes.
Aesthetically, I like having jewel-toned jars of frozen tomatoes lining our shelves in the basement. Practically, I liked having the extra hour on a Sunday morning to read the paper.
If you are thinking of canning tomatoes, I love this tutorial at Prudent Baby.