Preserving tomatoes for winter has two reasons. For one we want to enjoy the summer bounty year-round, but also there are often way more tomatoes in the middle of summer than we can eat, so preserving is the best way to use up the harvest.
We already covered the easiest way to preserve tomatoes by freezing them whole. Freezing raw tomato sauce is the second simplest way.
What tomatoes to use
Any tomatoes can be preserved this way, but it’s really ideal for the mid-summer or end-of-season tomatoes that are often less than perfect.
You know, those that remind one of an old face, or those that have split open. Let’s be honest here, homegrown tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties, are not as perfect as we know tomatoes from the supermarket. Read here about why tomatoes crack and split.
Those tomatoes are still perfectly edible, just cut away the splits and enjoy. But especially if the split is open, they need to be used up quickly.
I do not feel comfortable using open split tomatoes for canning, they also will not freeze well whole. Raw tomato sauce is the best way to preserve spit and cracked tomatoes. Another option is the oven-roasted tomato sauce. Since it is processed in an oven, it’s a better choice for the end of the season than mid-summer.
How to make the raw tomato sauce
Making the raw tomato sauce involves a few simple steps and it will not take more than a few minutes.
- Wash the tomatoes and remove the skin if desired and any spots or cracks that the fruit might have.
- Using a blender or food processor, blend the tomatoes into a sauce.
- Pour the sauce portion-wise into containers or freezer bags.
- Close and label the sauce.
- Transfer into a deep freezer.
I like to reuse plastic containers, freezer bags work well too. Glass jars can also be used, in that case, make sure not to overfill, so the glass does not crack. Also, you will have to think ahead and de-freeze the sauce slowly.
Using the raw tomato sauce
The raw tomato sauce can be used in any recipe you would use blended tomatoes. Since we did not add anything to them they are very versatile.
The sauce can be thawed before use or added frozen into the cooking.
Once thawed, the sauce needs to be used up quickly. I like to freeze it in portions I know we will use so that there are no leftovers after thawing.