Despite traditional wisdom, you can peel and freeze tomatoes without blanching them. Respected publications have long suggested that blanching is necessary before freezing tomatoes, but you may now choose whether or not to blanch them, according to your personal preference or need for the skins.
Peeling Without Blanching
Whether to freeze tomatoes with or without skins is a matter of preference. Some people don’t like skins in their soup. Others believe the soft tissue just below the skin is the most flavorful part of the tomato. Blanching is the easiest way to remove skins, but if you prefer skinless tomatoes, you have options other than blanching. You can remove the skin with a paring knife or a tomato peeler before freezing. Or, you can simply freeze the tomatoes whole. Then, run a frozen tomato under warm tap water to remove the skin.
Choose the Right Tomatoes
When selecting tomatoes to freeze, choose firm, ripe tomatoes that have a bright, full color. They should be fresh and at the peak of flavor. When you gently squeeze a ripe tomato, it should be firm and not dented when you release the pressure. If it deforms from the pressure, it is overripe. You can also slide your finger along the skin, applying light pressure. If the skin wrinkles, the tomato is too ripe for freezing.
Prepare Them Properly
Before freezing tomatoes, wash them thoroughly under cool running water. Avoid soaking tomatoes in the sink, as any contaminants could be absorbed by the tomato’s porous skin. Do not use any soap, as it too could be absorbed. Dry the tomato with a paper towel and place on a clean surface. Use a paring knife to remove the stem scar.
You can chop, slice or puree the tomatoes — or freeze them whole. Because tomatoes contain so much water, they will stick together if you simply pack them into freezer containers. Instead, arrange the whole or cut tomatoes on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer until solid. Then, transfer them to a freezer container for storage up to one year.
Soups and Sauces
Don’t expect to use these delicacies in place of fresh tomatoes in garden or pasta salads. Once thawed, they will be mushy. They can, however, add wonderful flavor to a pot of vegetable or minestrone soup or can be the basis for a variety of sauces. For best results, don’t add seasonings to the tomatoes before freezing, as the cold can cause many seasonings, such as garlic or pepper, to become too strong or too weak. Add seasonings to the tomatoes as you use them in recipes.