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Are you overrun with cherry tomatoes and wondering can you freeze cherry tomatoes whole? Well yes you can! We will go over how and why freezing whole cherry tomatoes is a great idea.
Harvest season is my favorite time in the vegetable garden. You are finally seeing the fruits of your labor, yet it can also be overwhelming, especially if you have a large garden with a lot of tomato plants.
Sometimes it is hard to keep up, especially when you have a lot of fresh tomatoes coming in. The fresh flavor of just picked ripe tomatoes is the best, but if you are eating your fill and giving them away and have no time to can them, freezing tomatoes is the easiest way to deal with them quickly with minimal effort.
Pulling frozen cherry tomatoes out of your freezer in the middle of winter is a treat. Using them in a cherry tomato sauce, is like a taste of summer, even in the dead of winter!
See my recipe for Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce!
Freezing tomatoes changes tomatoes' texture, as freezing them destroys their cell structure. So using frozen tomatoes for sauce, or throwing them in soups or stews is best.
I have another post on the benefits of freezing your tomato harvest, and it primarily cover how to freeze larger whole tomatoes that you have harvested, for canning later. But I get a lot of questions about freezing cherry tomatoes, so today we will go over practical tips on how to freeze those extra cherry tomatoes.
Dealing with an Abundance of Cherry Tomatoes
This year, I planted 28 cherry tomato plants. I have 14 varieties, two plants of each type, so I have a lot of cherry tomatoes on hand!
I won't talk about the other 50 or so tomato plants I also have growing. In my opinion, one can never have enough tomatoes!
We love eating fresh cherry tomatoes, I call them nature's candy. These bite-sized fruits really start rolling in faster and faster, and it's hard to keep up!
But sometimes you cannot keep up with eating things fresh, and need to look at preserving them. If you have larger heirloom tomatoes or Roma / paste tomatoes that you would like to freeze, see my article: How and Why You Should Freeze Your Tomato Harvest for more information on freezing them.
How to Freeze Whole Cherry Tomatoes
When I have a large amount of cherry tomatoes on hand, it is time to start freezing them. Freezing them keeps their nutritional value as close to fresh as possible.
- First, I remove any that are split or not perfect and then I remove any stems.
2. Next they get a quick wash. I fill a clean sink, with cold water, and put in a few glugs of vinegar.
3. I quickly swish the cherry tomatoes around in the sink a few times.
4. Then I pull them out with my hands, placing them back in the colander.
5. When it is full, dump them out to dry in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Don't be surprised if a few of them split, this is due to them absorbing some of the water you washed them with. If they were not split before placing them in to be washed, they are still good to use and freeze.
6. Next while they are drying, I get out my ziplock baggies and label them with the year.
7. Once the cherry tomatoes are clean and dry, I place them in freezer-safe bags or freezer-safe containers and put them in the freezer. Remove any extra air from the zip-top bags, or use an airtight container that you can fill to the top. You want to remove excess air, to help prevent freezer burn which is caused by too much air around the cherry tomatoes.
8. After I fill each bag, I weigh them and add that weight to the label on each bag. This lot yielded over 11 pounds of soon to be frozen cherry tomatoes!
9. After getting weighed, these get zipped shut and into the freezer they go! Very soon, they will be frozen and ready for use at a later date.
Vacuum Sealing Cherry Tomatoes for Freezing
If you want to vacuum seal your cherry tomatoes, it is best to freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet first.
Once they are frozen, add them to your vacuum sealer bags, and go through the process of vacuuming and sealing.
Freezing them first on the baking sheet, will prevent them from mashing together as the vacuum sealer sucks the air out of the bag, because they will already be frozen solid.
Freezing Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Another option you can try, is to freeze roasted cherry tomatoes. After cleaning them, cut them in half and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet with cut side down, and drizzle with a little olive oil, add any garlic or other seasonings that you like.
Roast them in the oven until they begin to slightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before freezing them.
You can freeze them in ziplock freezer bags, vacuum sealed bags, mason jars or other air tight freezer safe containers.
How to Use Frozen Cherry Tomatoes
Like I mentioned above, freezing tomatoes destroys the texture of tomatoes, so they will go to mush after they have been frozen. Thawed cherry tomatoes will be mushy, so expect that after freezing them.
After freezing them, they are not good for anything where you want pieces of tomatoes like you might find in a fresh salsa. They are best used in pasta sauce or other tomato recipes where their texture does not matter.
I prefer to make an easy and simple pasta sauce with them, by simmering the frozen tomatoes in a large pot with my favorite seasonings such as garlic and basil. Once it has come to a boil, you can use an immersion blender right in the pot, to deal with the cherry tomato skins.
Freezing tomatoes is an excellent way to remove tomato skins on larger tomatoes, but it becomes pretty time intensive with tiny tomatoes. Using the immersion blender, helps to break them down and become less of an issue in a sauce.
You could also blend in a blender or food processor instead of using an immersion blender. You can also strain the sauce after blending, if you would like to remove the skins and seeds. But it is still not advisable to can any tomato sauce with skins blended in.
The freezing process is the easy method to deal with a lot of tomatoes all at once that allows you to enjoy them throughout the year. This method can also be used for all type of tomatoes, such as grape tomatoes, paste tomatoes or even larger tomatoes.
See my article: How to Freeze Tomatoes from Your Garden to see more tips and reasons why you should freeze at least a part of your tomato harvest!
As you can see, it is an easy peasy way to deal with a bountiful harvest of cherry tomatoes that maintains their great flavor throughout the entire year! I hope these simple steps will help you make some freezer space so you can freeze cherry tomatoes whole for your family to enjoy!
Other Ways to Use Cherry Tomatoes
Obviously you can eat them fresh straight off of the tomato plant as I do when I need a snack in the garden. Or you can ad them to a fresh salad or slice in half and top your favorite pasta dish or scrambled eggs.
But other delicious ways for using them or effective methods for preserving them are:
- tomato jam
- sun-dried tomatoes
- dehydrate or dry cherry tomatoes
- pickle cherry tomatoes
- ferment cherry tomatoes
See my article: How to Store Green Tomatoes to Ripen
As you can see, freezing cherry tomatoes whole is a great option when you have a lot of them on hand. It is simple to do, and allows you to keep using them throughout the year.
So next year, plant a few more cherry tomato plants, and don't be scared by the abundance of them, as there is always a way for them to be used up!
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