Sunday, August 25, 2013

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer

There are lots of ways to freeze tomatoes. Every year I experiment a little, seeking the magical nexus between up-front effort and quality of the end product. This one is a bit more up-front work, but I'm very optimistic about the end result.

Like all tomato freezing and canning, this will yield the best results with paste tomatoes rather than the much juicier slicers or the too-fussy-to-handle cherry tomatoes.  (Both of those work well in salsa or dried.)

I have come to the conclusion that it is best to peel the tomatoes, despite the extra work involve (it's not that bad) - frozen tomato skins end up tough and they inevitably peel off the chunks of tomato and float around in whatever you've cooked with them.  Not a huge deal, but better to peel them before freezing.

Before peeling the tomatoes, core them and cut out any bad spots.  This is far easier to do before blanching than after.

To peel tomatoes easily, bring a Dutch oven or other large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water ready nearby. Dunk the tomatoes for about 1 minute each in the boiling water, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of ice water.  (This is called blanching.)  Remove from ice water, and you'll find that the skins slip right off.

Blanched tomatoes ready to peel
 Peel off the skins, squeeze out the seeds and excess liquid, and place the tomatoes in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them cool.  

Roasted tomatoes ready to drain and package
Scoop cooled tomatoes out with a slotted spoon or dump them into a colander to remove more liquid.  When ready, scoop them into freezer bags. I like to use quart bags, freezing about 3 cups of tomatoes per bag - that seems to be about the right amount for most recipes I use them in.  Squeeze excess air out of the bags, then press the tomatoes out flat - they will store more compactly and thaw more quickly this way.

When you are ready to use these tomatoes, thaw them in a bowl of warm water until you can get them out of the bag.

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