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Updated: Jan 11

Are your fresh home-grown tomatoes beginning to pile up?

Are you ready to make those delicious tomatoes into mouth-watering salsa or maybe even comforting Italian pasta sauce?

Then you're in the right place!

Many gardeners raise a few tomato plants just to have that taste of fresh home-grown tomatoes, but not me! I raise tomatoes to fill my shelves with homegrown goodness! I guess planting 40 tomato plants will do that to a person!

Yes, that is a few but I'd like to grow big for a huge harvest. Seriously though, our goal on this homestead has always been to fill ourselves and freezers with homegrown goodness from plants and animals; no matter what. Feeding three growing men, takes a lot of food, time, and hard work. But, what does a person do with all those tomatoes?

Over the years I have learned to preserve them in many ways, from freezing whole to pasta sauce!

How To Freeze Tomatoes?

Freezing tomatoes is a great way to keep your tomatoes fresh until you're ready to can them or to process them. I usually do this as my tomatoes start to slowly ripen because when I can I like huge batches. Why make five or six batches when you can make one huge one. Remember that saying, “go big or go home”? Yep, that’s me! Plus freezing your tomatoes first before canning can also cut down on simmering time as well as make them easier to peel.

Freezing whole tomatoes

  • Wash Tomatoes

  • Remove stems

  • Place tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet

  • Place in freezer for 1-3 hours

  • Remove and pack into freezer containers then seal

  • Label and return to freezer

How to can lots of tomatoes?

When canning and preserving tomatoes you need to select firm tomatoes that are free of cracks, spots, and blemishes. Tomatoes are classified as a high acid food so water bathing will be your go-to process.

Water bathing is when full sealed jars are placed in a pot of boiling water, where the water covers the jars by 1 inch. The jars and produce is then boiled for a set time to cook the produce and seal the jars.

I told you all, when it comes to canning I am not an expert and I am one who follows my Ball book to the letter. What I put into the recipes is, of course, my choice but for the canning process I follow very closely and you should follow it too. It is the difference between spoiled food, salmonella poisoning and enjoying fresh home-grown sweet tasting tomatoes in the middle of winter.

It's important for you to read your recipes carefully and gather all your equipment before you begin.

  • Jars; make sure you examine them for cracks or any nicks on the lid’s rings

  • Wash all of your equipment

  • Fill the water bath with water and place on the stove to simmer

  • Place the rack in the elevated position

  • Cover with a lid



This recipe will make about 6 pints of salsa

6 lb of tomatoes (usually about 12 large tomatoes)

3 cups diced red onion or onion

1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro

15 cloves garlic

6 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced

1 tablespoon salt

3/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

3/4 cup vinegar

Wash tomatoes, drain, peel and quarter. Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving a quarter inch headspace, adjust two-piece caps, process 15 minutes in boiling water bath canner (note to remember when you're cutting up those jalapenos to wear gloves)

How do you use frozen tomatoes?

Frozen tomatoes can be used in many recipes just thaw and cook.

Pasta sauce makes 14 pints or 7 quarts

45 lb of tomatoes

6 cups chopped onions

12 cloves garlic minced

½ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons oregano

6 Bay leaves

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup salt

Pull tomatoes from the freezer and let thaw for at least 12 hours. Pour any water or juice that forms in your bag off. This will reduce your simmer time! Peel tomatoes. This can be done by gently squeezing small tomatoes from the blossom end and pushing up towards the stem parts that have been cut away. With bigger tomatoes you may need to use a paring knife to cut and pull the skin but no blanching is going to be required. Saute onions, garlic and olive oil in a large sauce pot. Add tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, and sugar. Stir in salt and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves. Puree the tomatoes using a food processor or food mill. Cook pulp in a large uncovered saucepan over medium-high heat until sauce thickens. Stir to prevent sticking. Reduce volume by 1/2 or just depends on how thick you want it. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving half-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints for 35 minutes quarts for 40 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

Tomato Paste

12 lb of tomatoes (thaw longer than above recipe about 24 hours)

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup of olive oil

Drain off all of the juice and kind of squeeze the tomatoes a little bit to get out as much of the juice as you can. Squeeze the actual tomato as stated above to peel. Puree pulp, olive oil, and salt in a food processor. Pour into unreactive rimmed cooking sheets. Place in a 300-degree oven and bake for 3 hours. Check and stir frequently. Once the sauce has been reduced by half let cool. Pour sauce into ice cube trays and freeze for about an hour and or until set. Pull from trays and place in a freezer bag and seal. Return to the freezer. Use each cube is about one tablespoon of paste and use as needed in recipes.

I hope I gave you some great ideas for storing and enjoying your tomatoes all winter long!

Pray, Just Plant

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