Fresh tomatoes simply do not happen in my house during the winter. I just cannot bring myself to purchase those tasteless, mealy tomatoes they offer in the grocery stores in the off season. Blech! Often, I am tempted. In the past, when I have caved, the disappointment is painful. I turn to canned tomatoes once the fresh ones disappear from the farmers market tables. This year, I had high hopes of canning my own tomatoes. Then, work, life, and a million other things got in the way. Here we are–at the end of the season–and I have not canned a single tomato. So, to the Internet I went. Search terms: freezing fresh tomatoes. There is an enormous amount of information about freezing tomatoes on the web. After reading 10 different articles that provided 10 different opinions, I decided to just do it. Worst case scenario: tasteless red liquid. I figured it could still have some culinary use. With field tomatoes at about $.99 per pound, it was worth a try.
The differing opinions in the articles I read mostly focused on peeling or not peeling, whole or pureed, and fresh versus cooked. I opted for pureed, with the skins on, and to simmer the puree slowly to reduce it a bit before freezing. I have a Vitamix, so leaving the skins on was not an issue. This machine will completely obliterate the skins, which have a lot of the nutrients. One necessary item: my skimmer. I love this culinary tool (purchased at Whisk, of course). I used it to remove the tomatoey foam that is produced when the tomatoes are processed in the Vitamix. Five pounds of tomatoes later, I have several containers of frozen tomato puree that I will be using in soups and sauces this winter.
The mornings are foggy, damp, and cool. The nights give us a little shiver. It’s the last call for tomatoes. Fall is upon us–bring on the pumpkins!