How to Put Up Tomatoes (Freeze Tomatoes the Easy Way)

Tomatoes grow aplenty in the South, so here’s the easiest way to put up tomatoes. Freeze your garden fresh tomatoes to enjoy year-round.

5 tomatoes

It’s that time of year again (in the South, at least). If you planted tomatoes back at the start of the summer, they are likely coming in by the bucketful right about now. Around this time of year, I feel like I have tomatoes coming out of my ears! Still, I LOVE to grow tomatoes and I know full well this bounty will come in very handy once the growing season is over. As Weezy said in Steel Magnolia’s, “I am an old Southern woman. It is my obligation to wear funny hats and grow tomatoes”.

I actually know very few Southerners who don’t grow tomatoes. They are so easy to grow and produce such remarkably versatile fruit that can be made into any number of dishes and even preserve with ease. So, on the chance that you are also experiencing a bounty of tomatoes, I thought I’d hurry up and get this post to you so that delicious produce doesn’t go to waste.

Preserving tomatoes is so easy though, so you don’t have to wait until you have a bucketful! If you even have one tomato that is quickly ripening with no immediate need for it, use this same method and freeze it to use in a dish on another day. Waste not, want not – and nothing beats a garden-grown fresh tomato.

Of course, you can always can tomatoes, but freezing is just about the easiest (and most inexpensive) way to preserve fresh garden produce so that is the one I’m bringing you today. This method is also more convenient for smaller batches.

Today, I’ll be putting up five heirloom tomatoes from my gardens. They don’t know how lucky they are that I let them turn red! I’ve been frying up green tomatoes left and right here lately but these five managed to grow up despite my fried green tomato love. As I said, this is so easy that you can use this technique to freeze tomatoes whether you have 1 or 100.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Freezer bags

How to Put Up Tomatoes

Add tomatoes to boiling pot of water.

Blanch tomatoes

Our first step is to blanch the tomatoes, so drop them into a pot of boiling water.

Tomatoes in pot of boiling water.

Like so.

Remove from water once skin splits.

After a minute or two, the skin will split like this.

Remove them as the skin splits with a slotted spoon and place them in a dish (I use a 9×13 baking dish).

You don’t want to use a plate because when you remove the peels and chop them up there will be a lot of yummy juice involved.

If you have very ripe tomatoes they will take longer to split open. But hang in there, I promise it will happen.

Tomatoes with split skin.

See? Nice and split. Now for the cool part!

Oh, speaking of cool, you’re gonna want to let these cool down a bit. You can either wait half an hour or so or place them immediately in a bowl of ice water to speed up the process.

If you try to peel them now you’ll find they are about as hot as little fireballs!

Pull skin off.

Then, just take hold of the tomato skin and it pulls right off!

Use knife to cut off stem.

You’ll need to get a knife involved at the top, where the stem was attached. Cut that part off.

Discard skins and stems.

I discard all of my skins and tops but they’d be great in a compost bin if you have one.

Tomatoes with skin removed.

This is what they look like with the skins removed. You can tell a few of them gave up the ghost rather quickly.

I like it when things obey me, even if it is just a vegetable. We gotta take our little triumphs where we can get them!

Carefully chop up tomatoes.

Now I chop each one up but you can leave them whole if you prefer.

They are slippery so be careful.

Tomatoes ready to be put up and frozen.

Here they are, all ready to be bagged (tomato juice and all).

Date tomatoes before freezing.

Freeze tomatoes

I like to write on my bag the date and where they came from.

If your grandmother sent the tomatoes to you, it’s always nice to be able to call and say, “We had the most delicious stew made with your tomatoes today”.

Freezer bag filled with tomatoes.

Fill your bag up, get out as much air as you can, and freeze! It’s best to freeze them flat as they’ll retain that shape.

They are now ready to be used in sauces, stews, and anything else you can dream up.

There is NOTHING like your own fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter (or any other time of year for that matter).

Storage

Frozen tomatoes will retain their flavor for up to 12 months. Thaw them in the fridge before using them.

Recipe FAQs

What kind of recipes can I use with my freezer tomatoes?

The options are basically endless, but here are some suggestions:

What type of tomatoes can you freeze?

This method for freezing tomatoes works for all types of tomatoes, like Roma tomatoes (also known as plum tomatoes), heirloom tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes. If you use the latter, you can keep the skins on as long as you don’t mind the skins being in whatever you dish you make with them later.

Put up tomatoes

Put Up Tomatoes

Because they grow aplenty in the South, here's the easiest way to put up tomatoes. Freeze your garden fresh tomatoes to enjoy year-round.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: tomato, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • fresh tomatoes
  • boiling water

Instructions

Blanch Tomatoes

  • To blanch the tomatoes, drop them into a pot of boiling water. After a minute or two, the skin will split. Remove them as the skin splits with a slotted spoon and place them in a dish (I use a 9x13 baking dish).
    fresh tomatoes, boiling water
  • Cool these down before moving on to the next step. You can either wait half an hour or so or place them immediately in a bowl of ice water to speed up the process.

Cut Up Tomatoes

  • Once cooled, take hold of the tomato skin and it pulls right off! You'll need to get a knife involved at the top, where the stem was attached. Cut that part off. Now I chop each one up but you can leave them whole if you prefer.

Freeze Tomatoes

  • Fill your freezer bags up (getting out as much air as you can), date them, and freeze! It's best to freeze them flat as they'll retain that shape. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using in your next soup, stew, or supper.
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

You may also want to check out these posts:

Tomato Chips!

10 Things To Do With Tomatoes

Canning Tomatoes (Complete Video)

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211 Comments

  1. I freeze tomatoes all the time. It’s so easy. I put them through the food processor which grinds the skins down to nothing. So I rarely peel them. I also make a basic Italian sauce and freeze that. If only we could find a way to keep them green longer! I sorely miss home grown tomatoes in the winter season. I’m from Saskatchewan, Canada where the winters are cold and long

  2. I slice tomatoes in half or quarters if LG and Put on plate in microwave for 3 to 4 minutes. Cool and skin comes off, put in freezer bag and keep filling bag up as I have extra ripe tomatoes. So easy and not as messy. Saw this on web years ago and been doing it ever since

  3. Hey girls, I have a garden and have lots of tomatoes and bell peppers. I buy the onions but I add chopped bell peppers and onions to my bag of tomatoes for the freezer. When you want to make chili or spaghetti sauce. Well la!!!!!!!

    I have been doing this for years!!!!!!!!

    A country girl from Memphis Tennessee

  4. Thanks for thetutorialon freezing tomatoes. I have a few,not enough to can. This is a good way to use them , not lose them.

  5. RE: freezing/canning tomatoes, we used to make a shallow cross cut on the bottom of the tomato…dropped by slotted spoon in boiling water. We then dropped in icy water and it would make the peel split where we cut… Made it easier to peel!! Paper towels also help!!

    We used plastic cutting board over a damp clean dishcloth (prevents board shifting) to cut. We portioned into ziplock bags, laid flat & squeezed as much air out as possible. Lay flat & freeze. Then “file” in a plastic container to organize on your freezer shelf!!

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