How to Freeze Tomatoes for Sauce: Quick Prep Guide

Every fall, the bounty starts rolling in. There is a lot of produce to preserve, and I’m busy in the kitcehn with canning, and freezing.

Tomatoes are one of the last things that I usually can, and by that time I am so tired of putting up food. Canning food is a lot of hard work!

Knowing how to freeze tomatoes for sauce has been a sanity saver in my kitchen. Freezing tomatoes works great if you are feeling overwhelmed with garden produce.

While you can freeze them, and add them to your soups and sauces later, my favorite reason for freezing tomatoes is to not have to deal with them at the moment.

Whether you have a garden overflowing with ripe tomatoes or you’ve snagged a few too many at the farmer’s market, freezing them is an efficient and easy method to ensure you have tomatoes at hand when you’re ready to make a hearty sauce.

I prefer to can my own sauces, but often run out of jars in the fall. Freezing tomatoes allows me to save some of the work for later, and I can also reuse the jars that we empty over the winter.

This method also saves food, because if we are honest, we are sometimes tempted to give away or feed the pigs the surplus from the garden.

Freezing whole tomatoes to can later is what I did this past year.

While I do prefer to freeze them already blended and strained, you can throw whole unblanched tomatoes into the freezer.

They are easy to defrost and blend once you need them.

Preparing the Tomatoes

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Preparing tomatoes for the freezer does not require any fancy equipment and can be done in just a few simple steps.

While blanching is an option, I don’t recommend it. It’s unnecessary to blanch tomatoes before freezing. You do need to freeze red tomatoes.

If your tomatoes are still green, this will help you. Green tomatoes will not turn red after they’ve been frozen.

Before you start, remember that the quality of your frozen tomatoes directly affects the taste of your sauce. Make sure your tomatoes are clean, without any bad spots before freezing them.

Selecting the Right Tomatoes

Choose tomatoes that are ripe and free from bruises or blemishes.

If they have any blemishes, cut them out for best results. It’s also a good idea to remove the core before tossing them into bags or containers to freeze.

I don’t have any specific recommendations for varieties, as I believe almost any variety works. Paste tomato types will give you more flesh, which is what you want for tomato sauces.

Tomato varieties that have a higher water content will just make less sauce.

Washing and Drying

Rinse your tomatoes under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. After washing, pat them dry with a clean towel to remove extra moisture which can lead to ice crystals forming during freezing.

A rag works great to clean tomatoes.

  • Steps:
    1. Rinse under cold water.
    2. Pat dry gently with a towel.

Core and Cut

Using a sharp knife, remove the core from the top of each tomato. You can freeze them just like that, without blanching or chopping them up. However, cutting them into quarters will take less space in the freezer.

Freezing Process

Freezing keeps the tomatoes’ flavor and nutritional value, making them ideal for later use in sauces. There are two different methods that I prefer to use when freezing tomatoes for sauce.

One is simply freezing clean, whole tomatoes in plastic pails or bags.

This is the quickest and easiest method for busy autumn days. You simply toss ripe, red tomatoes into bags, and freeze them.

The downside is that it takes a lot of room in the freezer, and you are still faced with quite a bit of work once you are ready to make tomato sauce.

The other method is blending the tomatoes into juice, taking out the seeds and skins with a food mill. Then freezing this juice in plastic pails in the freezer.

Come February, or March, once your homemade pasta sauce and tomato soups are all gone, and your jars are empty, all you need to do is thaw the juice and dump into a large pot.

You’re ready to add the ingredients, and it becomes a less tedious process.

Because I currently don’t own a Food strainer (I would love this one), last fall I decided to toss all my tomatoes whole into the freezer. I had bags and bags of tomatoes.

It was also a big job when it came to this March! I thawed out all the tomatoes, and started blending them in my Ninja Blender.

After frozen tomatoes are thawed, you will notice a large amount of clear tomato juice in your pails.

Discard this for a thicker sauce.

This is one benefit of freezing tomatoes before making sauce. You get a sauce with lower water content because the freezing process separates the flesh from the water.

I then poured them into a strainer and shook that thing until I had nothing left but seeds and skins in my strainer. Talk about an arm workout! But I got it all done.

I canned a large batch of pasta sauce and homemade tomato soup. One recipe of my tomato soup makes about 16 cups of thick soup.

You can find this recipe and more in my Homesteaders Collection Canning Recipe Book.

Delicious. And it feels like a big accomplishment. We ran out of tomato soup the previous week, and I dislike buying when I can make my own.

So that’s what I did.

Knowing how to freeze tomatoes for sauce will not only save you time, it will also give you a richer, thicker sauce.

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