Tomato Time: Putting Up for the Winter

It’s August in San Diego and my favorite time of year! I haven’t been to the beach as much as I would like, but our garden’s tomatoes are ready. To be honest, I can’t even buy them in the store any more. The taste just doesn’t compare.

This winter I decided not to purchase any out of season tomatoes  from the store. Even “organic” tomatoes grown out of season are probably grown in Mexico, using precious water and resources to the detriment of the surrounding ecosystem. That sounds preachy so I should confess, it helped that I had our own heirlooms and cherries frozen and ready to go. We ran out a few months ago and I’ve been looking forward to preserving some more.

The tomatoes are great this year and baby LOVES them. She has a hard time eating the skin, so we peel or cut that away, otherwise she loves eating them baby led weaning style, a.k.a. as finger food.

Ok, funny story. I actually preserved my favorite batch of tomatoes last September, after my water broke and before I woke my husband to go to the hospital. True nesting. (You can read more of the story in this post.) Hey, I’m glad I did. It would never have happened once we came home. And having chopped heirlooms in pre-measured amounts of 2 cups made adding them to dishes super easy.

This weekend we finally had more than we can eat so I set about preserving. My mom got me a steam canner for my birthday, but I’m still a little intimidated (maybe that will be a future experiment and post.) She also gave me a book by Ball, as in the jars, on canning. It was weird, but the book actually said that freezing food was better than canning.

Here is my first, of hopefully many, step by step guides with pictures!

Freezing Tomatoes

1. Pick your tomatoes when they are ripe, just how you would like to eat them. (Or find some at a farmer’s market.)

2. Give them a quick rinse. (I might have skipped this step.)

3. Put a pot on the stove filled with water and bring to a boil.

4. Get a large bowl ready filled with ice water.

5. So that they will be easy to peel, score each tomato by making an “X” with a paring knife in the skin.

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6. Drop the tomato into the boiling water for a minute or two.

7. Transfer the tomato immediately into the ice bath for a couple minutes and then take out. The peel should be starting to fall off.

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8. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes by hand and roughly chop. (I don’t chop them too small because they tend to shrink a little through the freezing and defrosting.)

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9. I like to measure them into 2 cup amounts. I put them in zip lock sandwich bags and then put the sandwich bags into a freezer bag.

10. Lay flat in the freezer.

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I would love to get away from plastic next time. Any suggestions?

I also made a super yummy cherry tomato confit last summer.  Our cherries haven’t been growing so much this year, but if they do and we get enough, I will definitely share that here, too. That one was also a repeater!