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What’s Fresh: Why the freezer is your tomato’s best friend

By Hilary Meyer, August 26, 2010 - 9:08am

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I think my refrigerator is a wonderful thing. It keeps my milk cold, my vegetables crisp and my open condiments from growing moldy. But I think twice before I let the fresh heirloom tomatoes for my favorite tomato recipes anywhere near that magical kitchen appliance.

If you put a fully ripened tomato in the fridge, the produce patrol probably won’t flog you, but it’s best to keep tomatoes at room temperature on the counter, as nature intended.

The fridge can extend the life of many fruits and vegetables, but tomatoes are sensitive. They hate any temperature less than about 50 degrees. They’ll sustain what’s called a “chilling injury” that will turn that red orb of juicy sweetness to a mealy mess. A slightly underripe fruit is most susceptible to damage, as the cold temperatures stop the ripening process.

Related Link: Find out how to peel, seed and store tomatoes here.

But what do you do if you’ve got more tomatoes than you can handle? (Like I do, compliments of my enormous garden.) You can freeze them. Just take out the core (the green part that attaches to the vine) and freeze them whole in a gallon zip-lock bag. Of course you’ll never end up with a perfect vine-ripened tomato that you can slice and serve raw after it’s been frozen, but the textural change freezing imparts isn’t a factor when you’re using frozen tomatoes for cooking. (Learn the best way to Freeze Fresh Produce here.) Tomatoes frozen at their peak retain their flavor. I like to make tomato sauce with my frozen tomatoes.

Ever try peeling a ripe tomato? The peel slips right off a frozen tomato much more easily than from a fresh one, which saves time if you want your sauce to be peel-free.

Related Links:
Get 15 delicious homemade pasta sauce recipes here.
5 amazingly tasty tomatoes worth seeking out at the market

What’s been your worst kitchen mistake? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Hilary Meyer, Healthy Cooking Blog, What's in season

Hilary Meyer
EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

Hilary asks: What’s been your worst kitchen mistake?

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