How to Freeze Tomatoes

The Easiest Way to Preserve Tomatoes

Fresh Tomatoes
Bin of Just-Picked Tomatoes. Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images

Freezing tomatoes isn't only super easy, it's a fabulous way to preserve their fresh tomato flavor to use once tomato season is over. Imagine having bright ripe summer tomato flavor cheer you up in the dark days of winter. There are two methods, both outlined below. The difference is based simply on how many you have to freeze. Both are based—as you might guess—on putting the tomatoes in the freezer!

How to Freeze Just a Few Tomatoes

Put one to however many tomatoes will fit in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag most of the way, and then suck out as much excess air as possible—you can use a straw to do this if you like. Then seal the bag and put it in a freezer, positioning it so the tomatoes aren't squashed together, but rather are in a single layer. It's just that simple and easy.

During tomato season, you may want to keep a bag in the freezer and just pop in tomatoes you can't eat quickly enough, starting off with a few, and adding additional tomatoes as they make their way into the kitchen but don't get eaten.

How to Freeze Lots of Tomatoes

If, however, you have a lot of tomatoes to freeze, the bag method gets a bit dicier, just because tomatoes in the middle won'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.

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.

One can argue that it's easier to puree and strain the tomatoes when you're ready to use them after they've been frozen and defrosted.

All that said, anecdotal experience shows that tomatoes that have been peeled and de-seeded 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 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 in any recipe that cooks fresh tomatoes (pretty much any tomato sauce or even this Tomato Puree fits the bill). Add frozen tomatoes directly to soups and stews for some color and flavor with truly minimal effort.