How to Blanch Tomatoes for Freezing, Canning, or Cooking

Are you wondering what to do with all the tomatoes piled on your counter?  (What a great problem to have!) This is the perfect chance to blanch, peel, and preserve them for all your tomato recipes…. and you don’t even need “Little House on the Prairie” skills to do it. 

All you need is a little bit of time and a little bit of freezer space, and you can easily learn how to blanch tomatoes.

If you’ve got a lot of tomatoes to use, you may also like my super speedy 3-ingredient salsa recipe or dairy-free tomato cream sauce! You’ll also love my Great-Grandma’s zucchini bread if you’re overloaded with zuccs.

Wondering what to do with all your garden tomatoes? Here's how to blanch tomatoes for freezing or canning or to use in all your favorite tomato recipes!

If you’d like all these instructions & photos of how to blanch tomatoes in a single page PDF to print or save, scroll to the very bottom of the post before the comment section.

To Blanch Tomatoes, You’ll Need:

  • a pile of tomatoes (medium-sized smooth round ones are easier than big misshapen heirlooms, but either way)
  • a pot of water to fit at least 5-10 tomatoes at a time
  • a small knife
  • a slotted spoon
  • a “trash” bowl for the peels
  • a clean bowl, jar, or freezer bag for the peeled tomatoes
  • a large bowl of ice water
  • a helper to make things quicker 🙂

(Check out some of the canning supplies in the affiliate links below to make things easier–like a canning funnel, rack, & jar grips).

How to blanch tomatoes:

Fill the pot about half or 2/3 full depending how big it is, and start it to boil.  Meanwhile, cut the tops or stem spots off of the tomatoes, along with anything else you don’t want (cracks, brown spots, etc).

Prepare your bowl of ice water.  Leave room for the tomatoes and use plenty of ice, since the hot tomatoes will melt the ice as you go. You may have to drain water and add more ice between batches. A sprinkle of salt on the ice will help make it even colder.

Once the water is boiling, carefully drop in the tomatoes or lower them in with a slotted spoon.  Let them cook for a minute or two, depending on their size.  (You will see the skins beginning to shrivel or split).

Then, carefully lift them out with a slotted spoon and place them into the ice bath, poking them below the surface of the ice.

how to blanch tomatoes

Once they have cooled to the touch, take one out with clean hands. If the type of tomato you’re using is extra juicy or seedy (unlike roma or typical cooking tomatoes) it may be a good idea to gently let some of the extra liquid or seeds drip out into the “trash” bowl. This will improve the flavor of the end result.

Grasp the tomato as shown and carefully squeeze and pinch, pulling off the peel. Some tomatoes (and varieties) will be easier to peel than others, but the inside should slide pretty cleanly out of the skin.  Place the skin in the trash bowl, and the flesh in the clean jar or other container.  You may wish to chop it a bit smaller with a knife, depending on your cooking plans.

That’s it–now you know how to blanch tomatoes!

Preserving

Many gardeners like to use a vacuum sealer machine to help their produce stays fresh in the freezer. If you plan to freeze a lot of produce this may be a good investment since getting all the air out of the bag will help prevent freezer burn. Several of the machines in the amazon link above have coupons or sales this time of year, perfect for harvest time!

To freeze, squeeze the air out of the bag or container (leave a bit of room for them to expand) and seal. When you thaw them, if there is a layer of clear liquid, drain it off before using to make them less bitter.

If you plan to can your tomatoes and leave them on the shelf, use a trusted recipe and make sure to follow all rules of canning safety.  Tomatoes may need a squirt of lemon juice or citric acid to make sure they are the correct pH to store safely at room temperature.  Also look up a canning processing time chart to make sure that the jars and contents are heated through long enough to kill all bacteria.  If adding seasonings, still make sure the pH is correct or follow a trusted recipe before canning.

Ball recipe books like the one below are considered the authoritative guide to safe canning (click photo to view on Amazon).

If those rules make you a bit nervous or you don’t have time to properly can, don’t worry, freezing works perfectly fine!

I’m really looking forward to some flavorful spaghetti sauce or minestrone soup with these tomatoes in the winter.  What are your plans for your extra tomatoes?

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