Caprese Cocktail; Freezing Tomatoes

In addition to my 3 cherry tomato plants I have a few regular-size tomatoes: 2 yellow, 3 orange (1 was mis-labeled) 1 black, (should have had 2 – see orange) 2 red, 2 beefsteak and 3 Roma.

All the tomatoes have been ripening steadily this week so I have been busy freezing them.

The easiest way to freeze them is to pop them, whole, unpeeled, into freezer bags and freeze. When you thaw them the peel will slip right off, leaving the tomato ready to chop and use.

I don’t do it that way.  It takes up too much room in my freezer.  All those nice round tomatoes just don’t pack well.

I peel them and either chop them for use as I would whole, canned tomatoes, or purée them for sauce.

I keep the colors separate, purely for aesthetic reasons.

This Summer Squash and Yellow Tomato Soup wouldn’t look nearly as pretty made with red tomatoes:

Summer Squash and Yellow Tomato Soup

And my favorite late summer lasagne, with Smoked Salmon,  looks much more interesting with orange tomato sauce (Recipe on Wednesday).

Smoked Salmon Lasagne

You can also freeze tomato juice, although when I was making it I made lots and bottled / canned it.

To peel tomatoes:
Bring a medium pan 3/4’s full of water to a boil on high heat. Drop tomatoes in for 30 seconds – start timing immediately. Remove tomatoes and drop into a bowl of cold water. If you are doing a lot of tomatoes you will have to add ice or change water to keep it cold. Now peel them with a knife or your fingers – peel will come off very easily.

Juice for cooking:
Wash tomatoes and cut in half or quarters, removing stem. Put in a pot big enough to hold all of them easily, cover and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When thoroughly hot and simmering remove from heat and let sit, covered for an hour or so. Put a large strainer over another pot big enough to hold the juice and dump the tomatoes in. Stir and mash the tomatoes in the strainer to release all of the juice. Discard seeds and skin. Freeze in 1 or 2 cup bags or containers.  This cannot be canned / bottled as it would need 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt per quart to help preserve it.

Juice for Drinking:
When cooking add 1/4 green pepper, 1 shallot, and 1 stalk celery for every 6 – 8 cups tomatoes. Cook at a low simmer for 2 hours, remove and let sit, covered, until cool enough to work with. Strain and get juice as above. Before freezing, measure and add 1 tsp of lemon and 1 tsp salt to for every quart of juice.  This can be canned / bottled as is.  Great for Bloody Mary’s….

Note: When I did this in big batches I would cook 4 green peppers, 1 bunch of celery, 3 big onions and 1 bulb of garlic in a bushel of tomatoes. 1 bushel = app. 15 quarts of juice.

Sauce:
Peel tomatoes and cut into large chunks.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes to slightly reduce-  longer for a thicker sauce. Remove from heat, cool and purée. Label bags for sauce, measure and freeze.

Added Note: I made another batch of sauce without peeling first – just cooked and puréed it with peels.  It made a thicker sauce.  I’ll be doing it both ways – the thinner sauce for soups and stews, the thicker, (without peeling) will be great for pastas.

Freezing Tomato Sauce

Chopped Tomatoes:

Peel tomatoes (see above) Cut in 1/4ths or 1/8ths and put into a pan, cover and just bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Label bags, measure and freeze.

Freezing Tomatoes

I only had 1 small orange tomato so I tossed it in with the yellow in this bag.

You can, of course, add garlic, onion, peppers or anything else that tickles your fancy.

I don’t.  I never know what I may use it for and so I add other ingredients to whatever dish I’m making.

It’s a colorful tomato world – play with it.

Speaking of playing with food…

I had this Caprese Cocktail last night for dinner:

Caprese Cocktail

Caprese Cocktail   serves 1

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, multi-colored, cut in half
5 baby Mozzarella Balls
5 large basil, finely snipped
drizzle good olive oil
Pretty glass dish

Assemble tomatoes, cheese and basil in dish.  Sprinkle with basil and drizzle with oil.  Pour a fruity Rosado, sit on the terrace and watch the sunset.

9 thoughts on “Caprese Cocktail; Freezing Tomatoes”

  1. Thanks for this — and the note on freezing basil. Neo-basilists in the US argue that the herb can’t be frozen. They’ve basiled down the hatches against any notion of frost touching their beloved stems. Now comes tomatoes — beauty of that yellow soup be d*mned. (What a gorgeous looking soup!) So into the freezer they go with us. It’s not like basil or tomatoes are available (in recognizable taste, anyway) here in the high desert, in the winter.

  2. I’d never have thought a row of bagged tomatoes could be a rainbow!
    Wish I had a few tomatoes from the garden this year. Not here.

  3. I love the caprese cocktail – I wouldn’t have thought of serving it that way but it’s lovely and a little playful – gonna steal that idea!

  4. So many gorgeous tomatoes. It’s not hot enough where I live to grow big tomatoes so I grow lots of cherries, etc. I’m learning a lot about freezing from you.

  5. Evelyn, I’ve been having such fun with all my colorful tomatoes….
    TikiPundit, It’s always nicest to use fresh…. but frozen is the next best thing. Basil is delicious – but is is just food… Sometimes foodies get a bit over the top with perfection ;-))
    Ina, it was a fun cocktail!
    Tanna, I didn’t have any last year… this year is making up for it and then some!
    Zoomie, too much time in the kitchen last week – LOL
    Nirmala, no tomatoes? Maybe cherry tomatoes would work…. Glad the tips help!
    Christine, thanks – my freezer is almost full!

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