I don’t can but I do make use of my freezer for all the stuff that comes from my garden. I spent a chunk of time this week processing roma tomatoes for the freezer, peeling and seeding them, then chopping them into chunks to be used this winter. You can also freeze tomatoes whole, and I do that too – usually when I don’t have time to process them in fall; when you defrost the tomatoes, the peel comes right off.
Something that comes up quite often with other gardeners when we talk about freezing produce is that many people don’t know the easy way to peel and seed a tomato. I remember that learning how to do it made the difference for me between a hard chore and an easy one, so I thought I’d share the trick, in case anyone doesn’t know how to do it.
The easy way to peel a tomato is to cut an “X” into the bottom of the tomato and drop it into boiling water for a few seconds. You’ll see the skin start to split right up. That’s the point you take it out of the water, so you don’t start cooking it. Let it cool and the peel comes right off.
To seed a tomato, cut it in half across the width and just pull out the seeds with your fingers. If you’ve got a whole bunch to process, set up a big bowl to catch all the peels and seeds, then dump the whole thing into your compost.
Tomatoes freeze great. After I peel and seed them, I chop them coarsely and put them into containers to freeze. We have a FoodSaver, so after they are solid, I seal them in a bag. Come winter, I just pull out a bag and dump it into a pot for soup or sauce, or whatever I’m cooking.
Speaking of which, here’s my favorite, very easy, tomato soup recipe, which tastes like summer in the middle of winter. All you need are tomatoes, butter, shallots or onions, salt and pepper. I’d also say basil is a necessity, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I’m giving measurements here, but they aren’t really necessary. Basically, you just dump everything in a soup pot and let it cook for a really long time over low heat. Voila! Soup!
Melt 3T butter in a soup pot over low heat and add 8-12 shallots (2 onions work fine too). Cook until translucent. If you haven’t already done so, peel, seed, and cut about 5# of tomatoes into big pieces. Add the tomatoes to the pot with 1 teas. salt and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours. You won’t need to do anything except give the pot a stir every 1/2 hour or so. Taste for salt and season with pepper. You can do what you want to it then. I like to puree it smooth with a little fat free half and half, and add some basil.
I’ll be turning my basil into a year’s worth of pesto for the freezer very soon. When I do that, I’ll post my favorite recipe for pesto, which freezes great.