How to Store Tomatoes for Winter

Start by blanching your tomatoes, and cooling them in ice water.

Remove the skins at this point if you’d like to (sometimes I remove them to dehydrate them, other times I leave them on because I’m not against tomato skins in my sauces.)

I like to stop with cooking here: I’ll season them and process them when I prepare the individual meals. It’s time to freeze them.

When it comes down to freezing, you have two options: freeze the tomatoes individually, or freeze them in batches.

  • By freezing individually, the tomatoes freeze more quickly and are easier to handle; you can get individual tomatoes out of the freezer as necessary for recipes. They’ll also thaw much more quickly. This takes up more space though, because there will be air between the tomatoes.

  • If you freeze in batches, you can get everything in the freezer much more quickly, saving you time. If you’re filling bags or jars with tomatoes, you save much more space.

Freezing Tomatoes Individually for Winter Storage

To freeze tomatoes individually, start by lining a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Lay your tomatoes, so they don’t touch, on the baking sheet.

Place them into the freezer until frozen thoroughly, 2 to 4 hours.

Remove tomatoes from the baking sheet, place into a freezer bag or jar, and store them in your freezer.

Continue with arranging another round of freshly blanched tomatoes on the lined baking sheet, once finished.

Batch Freezing Tomatoes to Save Space and Time

If you’d like the quicker, space saving option, start by filling jars or bags with your tomatoes.

If you’re using bags, be sure to squeeze out all of the air and seal the bags tightly.

Arrange the bags in the freezer the way that you would like them to freeze (usually flat.)

For jars, avoid tightening the lid until the tomatoes are frozen, and do not fill jars more than 2/3 of the way to allow for expansion.

If you have limited freezer space, I recommend freezer bags over jars; they save even more space.

Sun-Dried (AKA Dehydrated) Tomatoes: Shelf Stable and Tiny-Home Friendly

The best part about dehydrated food is how much space you save in your pantry!

Much of your garden’s produce has a very, very high water content.

When you dehydrate your produce, you’re removing lots of water- food weighs less, takes up less space, and lasts much longer.

If you have a small apartment, limited pantry and counter space, or if you need an emergency food supply that fits in a small space, try these out!

First, wash your tomatoes and prepare them as you’d like.

You could halve or quarter cherry tomatoes, you could cut slices, or you could dice the tomatoes.

Arrange the fruit onto your dehydrator rays without crowding the pieces, so that they can dry evenly. You don’t want pockets of moisture.

Dehydrate your harvest until it is brittle (6 to 12 hours, this can vary with your home’s humidity level.)

Once dry, store your tomatoes in air tight containers; I highly recommend adding food-safe moisture absorbing packets and oxygen absorbers, if you have them.

This will further stabilize the food. Store in a cool, dark place.

Pickling Cherry Tomatoes: Saving Time While Preserving the Garden’s Most Prolific Tomato

I bet you didn’t know that you could pickle tomatoes!

Most people who pickle tomatoes keep them in the fridge, rather than stabilizing them for the shelf.

They could last for a few months in the fridge, making them an excellent option for preserving the last cherry tomatoes of the summer.

For most recipes, you’ll want to ensure that you poke the cherry tomatoes with a knife, toothpick, or skewer before pickling them.

This allows the brine to penetrate the fruit, giving you a delicious little pickled tomato in a matter of days.

Green tomatoes can be pickled, as well; so don’t forget to give this method a go, with the dozens of recipes that you can find throughout the internet.

Canning Tomatoes: The Most Common Method for Winter Tomato Storage

Canning is one of the most popular ways to preserve tomatoes.

Since canning is an art in itself, with many different avenues and instructions, I will not dive too deeply into it.

When canning, you can either opt for water bath canning, or pressure canning.

If you choose to water bath can, be sure that you’re canning safely.

There are lots of rules and guidelines when it comes to canning; most things cannot be water bathed.

Canning tomatoes will preserve your harvest for years, and it’s a great way to preserve tomato sauce, soup, paste, salsa, and more.