Is freezing the best way to preserve tomatoes? It’s a great way but since I don’t have a lot of freezer space, I’m going to share with you the different ways that I preserve my tomatoes.
There is nothing like the taste of a tomato that is fresh from the garden. You can’t get that taste from a grocery store anymore.
If you don’t have space to garden but you would like to enjoy that fresh garden flavor all year long, you can get your produce from a local farmers market or co-op.
When you have more tomatoes than you can eat fresh –
- Fresh Tomato Pasta Salads
- Sliced Tomatoes
Then it’s time to preserve them!
Probably the easiest way to preserve tomatoes is to freeze them. You will need to blanch your tomatoes and remove the skins, then put them into freezer bags. I typically slice them in half or quarters and then toss them in. Remove as much air as possible, label with a sharpie marker and lay them flat on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen you can take them off the baking sheet and they stack nicely.
I personally don’t have a lot of freezer space. We gave up our big freezer for more space in our shed when our kids were all grown and so now I just have the freezers that are in our house and shed refrigerators.
Because I love the look of my ball jars filled with tomatoes in my pantry, I prefer to can my tomatoes.
Before all methods of preserving (except for sauce), you will need to blanch your tomatoes. Blanching is simply the process to easily remove the tomato skins.
- Wash your tomatoes and remove the stem area with a knife and also any bad parts that might be on your tomato
- Heat a large pot of water to boiling
- Add 5-6 tomatoes at a time to the boiling water with a slotted spoon
- Leave in water just until the skin begins to peel back (about 15-20 seconds)
- Remove from the water with your slotted spoon
- Skin will easily peel off the tomato
Prepping the Tomato for Canning
- Cut the tomato into quarters and put into pint or quart jars
- Fill until almost full
- Push down with your fingers to get all the tomatoes filled in the jar. I use a chop stick to push down the sides of the jar as you want to remove any air bubbles.
- For pints add 1/2 tsp., salt and 1 tblsp., bottled lemon juice to the top of the packed tomatoes (double for quart jars).
- Wipe the edge of the jar clean with a towel or paper towel and then place a seal and lid on the jar.
Water Bath Canning
You will need a water bath canner for this next step. My water bath canner holds 7-pint jars.
With a water bath, you will fill your pot with water and bring it to a boil with the jar rack OUT of the pot. Once your water is boiling, you want to gently put your rack, filled with jars into the boiling water. Once it returns to boil you will want to keep it a nice rolling boil with the water covering the jars, for 45 minutes. I didn’t use it for quart jars because the water would boil out and the tops wouldn’t be covered for the whole 45 minutes. *
I bought a pressure canner about 3 years ago and I like it for a few reasons, it takes less time to process. I can fill it with more pint jars and it works better for quart jars. It takes less time than a water bath but it needs more attention as you have to keep your pressure steady throughout the process.
* Disclaimer: Please follow your manufacturer’s directions on both your water bath and pressure canner. You can also contact your county extension office for more great information on preserving food. Our University of Illinois Extension is a resource that I use all the time. It is just a wealth of great information.
There are few things as fulfilling to me as opening up my pantry and literally seeing the fruits of our labor in the garden.
If you have more questions or something to share on how you preserve your garden harvest, please comment.
I will share how I make tomato sauce in another post! Thanks for visiting!
I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that I use my canned tomatoes to prepare. Find it HERE