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Homegrown TomatoesIf canning seems too complicated or scary, you may want to try freezing. Don't be afraid, it's quite easy and you will love the results of your labor in the off-season. Hot-house or grocery store tomatoes are just not the same! Whether you use farmer's market tomatoes or ones you grew yourself, freezing plump, juicy tomatoes is an easy way to savor the sweetness of summer all year long.

Tomatoes are in season from June through September. Look for fresh garden tomatoes at area farmer's markets or pick-your-own farms, or grow your own. Look for tomatoes that are firm, well-shaped, and richly colored. They should be free from blemishes, heavy for their size, and have a fragrant aroma. Tomatoes that are perfectly ripe will give just slightly to palm pressure. Most varieties of tomatoes can be frozen. However, plum or roma tomatoes contain the most pulp and will produce the best results. If the tomatoes cannot be frozen immediately, store them at room temperature. Avoid storing fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator, which can make them lose flavor and become mealy.

Tip: Plan on 1 quart of frozen tomatoes per 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes.

Step 1: Gather the proper freezing equipment and supplies

Here's what you'll need to ensure a smooth freezing process:

A large (7- to 8-quart) pot
A large bowl
Freezer containers or bags
Labels
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Step 2: Blanch the tomatoes

Blanch TomatoBlanching is a heat-and-cool process. It stops or slows natural enzymes in the tomatoes that could cause loss of flavor and color. It also makes easy work of peeling the tomatoes. Here's how to do it:

Fill a large pot with 1 gallon of water; bring water to boiling.Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. This encourages the skin to split during blanching so you'll be able to slip off the skin easily with your fingers once the tomatoes have cooled. Working in 1-pound batches, immerse tomatoes in the boiling water. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until the tomato skins split open. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water.

Step 3: Peel the tomatoes

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use a knife or your fingers to peel the skin off the tomatoes.

Step 4: Prepare and freeze the tomatoes

Using a small, sharp knife, cut out the stem end from the peeled tomatoes. If desired, halve, slice, or chop tomatoes.
Spoon the tomatoes into freezer containers or bags, leaving a 1-inch headspace.Seal the container or bag and label.

Freeze for up to 10 months.

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