picture: Tomatoes taken directly from the freezer and put into the crock pot. These were cleaned, dried, and placed into the freezer to be used with skins intact and stems removed. More pictures below.
How about red for a cold February day? A red soup fit perfectly with our "HEART"-y meal. Back to my using up the harvest series...
Tomatoes rank number one for garden canning endeavors and as a high acid fruit they can be processed in a water bath canner. They are the veggie I grow the most of, but as far as canning I usually find that when all the tomatoes are ripening I am to busy dealing with all the other garden produce. I learned from a fellow long-time farmer's market vendor (age 65 +) how she deals with the tomato abundance in September - October. ... she just wipes off the fruit to remove dirt and put them in the freezer to use when she was ready. I have done this also for several years. To begin I freeze them in a single layer using a pop flat box (this way they don't mash), then I place them a common grocery store plastic bag to keep them from falling all over my freezer until I am ready.
Tomatoes in recipes usually require 1 - 14.3 oz can or 1 - 28 oz can of tomatoes. I calculate that one pound of fresh (or frozen) tomatoes with skins removed is the amount for a 14.3 oz can recipe. To save time my tom's are usually in a cheap plastic grocery sack and from experience I consider a 1/2 full grocery sack is somewhere around six pounds. A quart size bag of medium tomatoes is the equivalent of a 16 ounce can (or 1 lb) and a sparse gallon size freezer bag of tom's equals the amount in a 28 ounce can, however I use the medium and large size ones which require more "air space" to make it more like a 28 ounce can in recipes. I did actually weigh them for a few years, but then I got to the point where I could eyeball a pound or two pretty well.
Diced canned tomato similarity? The helpful farmer woman said she made soups and salsa with her freezer tomatoes. I like a chunky style salsa (which a frozen tomato cannot do), so I use them for soups and sauces only. The frozen tomato does not offer body, just flavor and volume. I cut the frozen tomato up when it is still frozen using a paring knife and acting quickly so my hands do not freeze or after it is in a cooking soup and thawed, then I use my kitchen scissors and chase after the tomato body cutting it into bits and pieces (sorry for the graphic description).
picture #2 above:
I let them cook on low overnight. You can see the the tomatoes are actually floating in a potful of clear tomato liquid. Unless pureed or the skins are removed and the tomato body is chopped the texture is not good at this stage, but it does maintain all of the tomato flavor. However you must remember when you buy them form a can salt is added and sometimes acidic preservatives are added, so this fresh tomato pot will not taste the same unless you doctor it.
Picture #3 above:
I used a hand blender to emulsify the tomato body and liquid together. I have a powerful kitchen aid hand immersion blender that works wonderful, and in this picture you can see it brings a bright red color that is basically a tomato puree with the consistency of what you would open from a can but without the salt or other preserving acids. Because my hand blender is powerful you cannot tell the skins are in this. Next I added the other ingredients required of TOMATO SOUP (link to my recipe) and let it cook on low while I went to work. When I came home I pureed again and ate tomato soup for supper with sandwiches. I personally like a red tomato soup that I add some dill or basil to right before eating, however I have known some who like a creamy, pink soup I guess you could add plain soy milk or pureed silken tofu to it if you desired.
Once the soup is pureed with the flavoring I could pour them into pint jars and further process with my pressure canner. Because I have low acid foods in there (carrots, onions, etc) I would process them for as long as the food that takes the most time. With this soup because I added no legumes I would process at 45 minutes for a pint, but then if I also needed to process tomato based pasta sauce of which I add mushrooms and TVP (a legume product), I would go ahead and place these jars with the others and process for 1 hour 25 minutes because that is what is required for the legumes. The way I made the tomato soup above may separate in the jar into the a layer of clear liquid. This is okay and can just be stirred to remix.
Another use for frozen tomatoes:
MORE TO COME SOON:
Next tomato post will be about canning homemade pasta sauce and Italian Stufado stew.