The absolute easiest way to preserve those wonderful garden tomatoes is to freeze them.
I will never complain about too many tomatoes in my garden. If they start to come too fast and furious, I know I can always freeze them and save them for recipes down the road. What a treat to have garden-fresh taste in the middle of winter!
Of course, canning tomatoes is always another option. But that involved boiling water, peeling hot tomatoes, and the canning process. Freezing yields tomatoes ready for recipes with minimal work.
To Freeze the Tomatoes
You find yourself with a kitchen counter loaded down with fresh tomatoes, and you have no way to use them before they spoil? Time to freeze tomatoes.
Start by washing your tomatoes and removing the stems and any blemishes. No need to remove peels, but it is much easier to remove stems before the tomatoes go in the freezer.
Next, place the tomatoes in a bag or another freezer-friendly container. I typically just use a plastic grocery bag.
Stick your bag of tomatoes in the freezer.
To Use the Tomatoes
Fast-forward weeks or months in the future, and you wish to use your tomatoes. Remove the tomatoes from the bag and place them in your kitchen sink. Add hot tap water to the sink and allow tomatoes to sit submerged in the water for a minute or so. After a minute start to rub the skin off of the tomatoes with your hands. The peel will literally fall right off, leaving the whole tomatoes ready to cook down.
Add the frozen tomatoes to a large pot. Cover loosely and cook the tomatoes over low to medium heat. They don’t need constant attention but do stir occasionally to assure nothing is burning on the bottom of the pan.
The tomatoes will thaw and cook down. Continue to stir occasionally until it resembles chunky tomato sauce. I like my tomato sauce chunky, but you can put the sauce through a blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
My large saucepan of tomatoes took about 45 minutes to cook down into a thick sauce. It really takes a lot of tomatoes to create a sauce. That large saucepan of tomatoes cooked down to 3 servings of spaghetti sauce.
At this point, if you are using the sauce to make spaghetti sauce, like I did last week; start adding the other ingredients. I added sautéed mushrooms and onions, fresh basil and oregano, a tsp of sugar, and salt. The sugar cuts the acidity just a bit. Your sauce will not be sweet, but it will be wonderful. 🙂