Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomatoes, Tomatoes Everywhere – Freezing Them

I spent all yesterday in my kitchen again, trying to stay ahead of the mound of tomatoes and peppers that keep rolling in from my little garden. I’m probably not the only one – the media keeps reporting that many more people planted gardens this year in an effort to save money. If you didn’t plant a garden, you probably noticed that farmer’s markets have been springing up in many more towns this year, so your opportunity to get fresh produce is still better than usual!

So, just in case you or someone you know has a garden this year and are wondering what to do with all those tomatoes, I thought I’d share a couple of ways I save them for use during the winter. This week I’ll explain how easy it is to freeze them. Next week I’ll show how I oven-dry them (which is so much easier than sun-drying them, and just as tasty!).

To freeze tomatoes, you simply skin them, chop them into chunks, and put them in a quart-sized zippered freezer-style plastic bag, then toss them in the freezer. Really, that’s all there is to it. To skin them easily, drop them in boiling water for one minute, then plunge them into ice water. The skins will peel right off. Then I cut out the core near the stem, chop the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks, and put them in a colander to drain a little. Then I put 2 cups of the tomatoes into a quart-sized bag. Two cups is about equivalent to a can of tomatoes, so when I use a recipe calling for a can of tomatoes, I can just use a bag of my frozen tomatoes. Here’s a photo of several pints of my yellow-colored Lemon Boy tomatoes ready for the freezer.

In case you’re wondering, freezing peppers is even easier. (No skinning necessary!) Simply wash them and pat them dry, cut off the stem end, then slice them open and remove the seeds. Then dice them up and put them in a zippered freezer-style plastic bag. When I freeze them, I lay the bag flat so that the diced peppers don’t all freeze in a big clump. If they’re spread out flat when they freeze, it’s easier to shake out just a few when I need them later for a recipe. I plant Anaheims and Jalapeños each year, and I freeze both of them the same way.

Got any great allergy-friendly recipes for using up some of those garden veggies? Share them with us by posting them in a Comment!

Happy harvesting!

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