Frozen Whole Tomatoes. Given the icy, subzero weather a lot of us have faced recently, it's hard right now to give anything frozen (even tomatoes) the tiniest bit of love or respect. However, before you click away to daydream about warm beach vacations (I so want to go here by the way), I ask you to give the frozen whole tomato your attention. I guarantee they will become an easy and useful addition to your freezer and help deliver delicious, warm and tasty things to your table. A little back story...
Late this summer, we were blessed with a stash of tomatoes from the cabin garden (hundreds!). From cherry to beefsteak to romas - all were fresh, juicy and delicious, but the quantity was a bit overwhelming. Luckily, Cathy taught me a simple process to preserve them with ease - freezing whole.
After washing (3x), drying and sorting the tomatoes by kind and ripeness, we began our work. Next....are you ready for this?
...we packed them whole into ziplock freezer bags. Shocking, I know. But it is so easy and simple, it's ingenious. With a quick few zips, my storage freezer was chock full of the fruits of our garden (It was a bit of a tetris puzzle for a week or so).
I'll admit I was a little skeptical about using them. After all, they weren't chopped up and I wasn't convinced they could be used in whole form without being a royal pain in the you-know-what. However, Cathy assured me they would be fantastic in soups and stews and easy to use from frozen as the skins slip right off after running under hot water. "Just toss a few in!", she said. Hmmmm...
Well, Cathy was right - this is a fabulous way to add tomato to most any recipe that calls for it (and I'll admit they're kind of fun to de-skin under hot water). :) I've thrown these frozen guys in just about anything on the stovetop that calls for canned tomatoes - from stews, soups or anything that could use a kick of fresh tomato. As they cook, they simply melt down and can be broken apart as much as needed. I am amazed at how useful they have become - I haven't had the need to buy a can of tomatoes in months.
This no-fuss storage method is a must-do for anyone with a prolific tomato garden. Especially when you hit the wall with canning (and our cabin garden does - Cathy can attest). I also think this would be a great way to preserve store-bought tomatoes when they are local, delicious and in-season.
So, give 'em a shot next time you've got extra toms on-hand. I think you'll find them to be a useful addition to your freezer arsenal!
P.S. Frozen whole tomatoes would be a great ingredient choice for the winter minestrone soup recipe posted last week to thecabingarden.com!
With much hope of warmth,