My mother-in-law cans TONS of tomatoes each and every year. She is nice enough to pass along several jars to us for use throughout the winter months. We utilize most of the canned tomatoes from her in chili. This summer, we ended up with an abundance of fresh tomatoes ourselves, but I am not someone who enjoys (or even does well at) canning. So, I set out to research the method of freezing whole, raw tomatoes. And, I have to say that I am incredibly surprised at how easy the "process" is and how awesome it is to freeze tomatoes at summer's end.
The method is a quick and simple one. I was able to get six gallon-size freezer bags (with 6 - 7 large tomatoes in each bag) processed from start to finish in about an hour. (That's definitely quite a bit quicker than going through the canning process.)
Obviously, freezing tomatoes will change their consistency. The tomatoes work best - once thawed - used in recipes where the food will be cooked (soups, stews, chili and sauces). Using or serving the thawed tomatoes raw is not recommended as they will be a little mushy after their time in the freezer.
TO PROCESS TOMATOES -
Begin with fresh, whole, firm tomatoes.
Thoroughly wash/scrub the tomatoes in cold water.
Next, cut away the stem and core. Set tomatoes as you work onto a paper towel-lined counter or onto large baking sheets to await freezing.
Place 5 - 7 tomatoes (depending on size of each tomato) in an even layer inside of a gallon-size FREEZER-style zip-top plastic bag.
Seal almost all of the way. Insert a straw down into the bag in the small opening left at the top - in a far corner. Be sure inserted straw end is not up against any tomatoes. Bring zipper right up to the straw. Suck as much air out of bag via straw as possible. (Be careful, however, not to remove so much air that tomatoes get smashed.)
Quickly seal the rest of the way before air escapes.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Alternatively, I have read that plastic containers can be used in place of freezer bags. However, I have not tried this method.
Stack in freezer. (It is recommended that frozen vegetables/fruits be utilized within 7 - 8 months.)
NOTE: Be sure to label bags with the processing date.
TO USE TOMATOES -
Remove tomatoes (however many needed) from freezer and run under warm water - one at a time.
Skins will peel off pretty easily. Use in soups, stews, chili or sauces. If desired, peeled and thawed tomatoes can be processed through a canning sieve if seeds and/or large chunks of tomatoes are not desired for a particular recipe. (Basically, you would be wanting just the juice of the thawed tomato if using a sieve.)