Roasting and Freezing Tomatoes Ten Thousand Tomatoes

August 19th, 2009

When I got home from our trip to Hell and back, I discovered ten thousand tomatoes ready to be picked in my garden.

My mom had done a great job of keeping up with the garden and everything else was picked clean, but in the few days interim between her departure from our house and our arrival back home, they had all ripened to an obscene and undeniable bright rosy red.




I picked them and brought them in the house and then I sat them on the table and stared at them helplessly for several days.


My one and only canning experience was a pickling disaster and I was terrified to try it again.  



Eventually the situation became dire.  The fruit flies grew so dense I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face and I could not bear to watch all of my hard work growing those tomatoes rot away on my kitchen counters.  

I e-mailed my friend Sarah and begged her to come over and teach me how to can.  She was at work and then she had to go help with VBS and then she was leaving town and I don’t think that Sarah really cares about me at all.  I guess I need to write another venom filled essay called ‘I Wish I Had A Friend Named Sarah Who Would Drop Everything and Come Over and Can My Tomatoes For Me Right This Very Minute!’





But Sarah did e-mail me instructions on how to freeze tomatoes.  It sounded very hard and I didn’t think I could really do it, but I thought I would give it a try.





First I had to remove the skins.  I placed the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute.





Then I removed them with a slotted spoon and placed them in an ice-bath.







I have always heard of this magical procedure, but I have to be honest with you, I was absolutely certain it would not work for me.  

But it did!  

The fates did not conspire against me!

The skins just slid right off.

It was like a miracle!

The miracle of the sliding tomato skins!

I removed the skins, cut the tomatoes in half, sort of glopped out as many seeds as I could and then I placed the whole sorry mess in a large soup pot, added some basil, salt, and garlic and cooked it down for an hour or so.  After that I poured the reduced tomato carnage into a plastic freezer bag and that was that!





I still had nine thousand tomatoes to go!


I didn’t really enjoy peeling those tomatoes.  It was gross.  I had read about roasting tomatoes somewhere, so I got online and found a few recipes and thought I would give that a try…




I cut off the stem end of my tomatoes and then cut them in half.





I scooped out the seeds and placed the gutted tomato carcasses on a buttered cookie sheet.






I brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled on basil, salt and garlic and let them roast at 375 degrees for an hour.










Drew and I then slipped the skins off of the roasted tomatoes and placed the pathetic skinned tomato beasties in a bowl and mashed them up a bit.

For some reason this was less gross than the boiled tomatoes.  I have no idea why.



I placed the roasted, mashed tomatoes in a carefully labeled bag, and took a blurry dim photo of it to post on my blog.

For the normal person who might have stumbled on this blog in search of a tomato roasting recipe, you may skip the dim, blurry photo part.  

I froze most of the roasted tomato sauce, but I saved a bit to try right away.


And then I made some eggplant parmesan with eggplant and fresh roasted tomato sauce from my own garden… and it was delicious!  I hope to get that fascinating story up very soon… but I would strongly advise against holding your breath.

Only eight thousand more tomatoes to go.


  • Holy buckets of tomatoes Batman! I’m so jealous! I’m going to miss the steaming mess of canning tomatoes this year unless I find a great deal at the farmer’s market some week.

    Good on you for giving it another go! Didn’t we tell you pickles are the devil? I think you should give dilly beans a try next. Same basic taste as pickles, much harder to screw up…

  • OMG…my tomatoes are about to ripen too…now I think I need to leave on vacation and return when our friend has picked everything and done all this for us…YIKES!
    Looks yummy tho! ;-)

  • From the freezer to the fire can’t wait to try this recipe. I can see it all now, picking the sun ripened fruit imagening the smell as they roast, I head into the house and the man who will not win husband of the year again, will call me to do something extremely important for him like look up something now because the words he needs me to read to him will not be there later. I will drop my precious tomatoes whole into the deep freeze where months later I will find them looking exactly like they did the day they were picked, beautiful red round and frozen hard as a rock, I remove the beautiful frozen carcass run it under warm water and slip goes the skin. I add it frozen, to the sauce I am making and what do you know with very little effort I have preserved tomatoes, of course I will hold it against my husband the obvious lack of fire roasted flavor. humm

  • Wow. You are a PRO. I think you are joshing us about never had done it.

    The eggplant looks awesome. I want some.

    My tomatoes are still green. What few turn red immediately becomes insalata caprese so I don’t know if I’ll ever have enough for sauce or salsa.

  • Myra:

    Alton Brown has a fabulous roasted tomato sauce recipe on Also, you can make “sun-dried” tomatoes in your oven too! DH has been begging for some. Who needs sun or fire when we have ovens!

  • My goodness that’s a bunch of beautiful tomatoes! yum!

  • BRAVO, Rechelle!! You and Drew make quite a team there! :)

  • Patricia:

    You go woman !! You are the best, and don’t let anyone tell you different ! I LOVE, LOVE LOVE, YOUR BLOG !!

  • Missed your posts! God Bless! Love your blog!!

  • Anonymous:

    can you make us some mango and peach salsa with those tomatoes too?

  • Mimzy:

    Never thought of roasting my tomatoes. I have always just freezed them (when I have the time). I will have to try the roasting even if I go to the farmer’s market to get the tomatoes.

    Have missed you. Then I went on vacation. Glad to have you back!

  • jamoody:

    I am very jealous of your bumper crop of tomatoes, but not of all the work! I usually can mine…same process, just slap ‘em in jars and put in a teaspoon of canning salt and process in hot water bath for 20-30 minutes and pray they seal!

  • I find this odd that you have a friend named Sarah who cans tomatoes… only because that is my name and I also canned tomatoes a month or so ago with 28 pounds of tomatoes and then made tomato sauce yesterday with another 22 pounds of tomatoes. And lordy, I hated peeling all of them! Though, I do have to say, blanching and peeling peaches was almost worse…

  • Those fire roasted tomatoes sound yummy. I’m going to have to try this, you know, if I ever get around to planting a garden and actually remember to water it instead of letting it shrivel and die in the hot summer sun.

  • Margaret:

    Just wash them, take the stems off and put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. You can use them for sauces when you defrost them. The skins come right off as they defrost. Use them all winter in sauces. good luck

  • Kris:

    Take the stems off, wash them, and throw them in the blender and pulverize the hell out of them. Freeze the juice in containers or figure out how to can it. Use for many, many Bloody Mary’s or frosty mugs of red beer. Mmmmmm!

  • Leslie:

    Oh…I am so happy you are back…

  • What is this washing and freezing idea? Why did no one mention it to me before? Why must my life be so hard!

  • Linda:

    Just got caught up with you. Gall bladder surgery the week of my daughter’s wedding and getting back to work in my classroom have consumed the greater part of the last few weeks. Love your honesty, love the real world lessons you are sharing with your boys, love tomatoes, too. Rock on, Rachelle. Linda

  • Linda:

    Ugh, sorry about the misspelling, Rechelle. My bad.

  • Colleen:

    I use Margaret’s method. Just put them in plastic bags in the freezer. When I want to use tomatoes in a recipe I just pick out a few and put them in the pan, pull off the skins as they heat up, and smash them in the pan as they cook and it is just like fresh home canned tomatoes but without all the canning.

    By the way, Rechelle, I absolutely love your blog. I have been reading you for months and really enjoying it. I am dying to comment on your trip to Europe, I really have something to tell you. Are you ever going to turn those comments on?

  • Jennifer:

    Julia Child would be proud! I think it’s great to freeze them–never would have considered it. But it still involves all that hot work in the kitchen, so bravo to you!

  • Sandy in MI:

    Oh man, those bowls of red tomatoes are gorgeous, I tell you! And I bet they taste fantastic roasted.

    I’ve helped my mother can tomatoes and the whole taking the skin off part makes my skin itch like crazy. Memories of canning are tainted with itching up to the elbows. Also, she uses a pressure canner and I’m always convinced that thing is going to blow up every time. I make excuses to leave the room when she gets to that point.

  • Dee from Tennessee:

    I had no idea you could freeze them like Margaret and Colleen said….no idea and I OLD, VERY OLD….maybe next year when we plan on buying a freezer if the Good Lord is willin’ and the creek don’t rise!

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    I don’t have nearly that many, or the time to fix them properly this year, so hubby and I snack on them as we can, and the ones getting gross get tossed to the chickens, who play Keep-Away with them before eating.

  • martina:

    I canned them using the boiler canner method, then didn’t trust that I did it right. Too many people told me horror stories about badly canned tomatoes having botulism. So I opened all four jars, put contents in freezer bags and froze them. The next big batch will be made into sauce and frozen. Ball Blue Book of Preserving has great tomato recipes and ways to preserve them.

  • awesome tomatoes! :)

    happy to see you back, Rechelle! you guys rock!!!

    take good care of yourselves & hope you can sleep plenty! :)

  • Lauren:

    I would so come help you can those tomatoes…if I lived closer
    Find a pasta pot/steamer pot strainer to put the tomatoes in and take them out of the hot water, makes it go much faster, then put them in the sink filled with cold water…Peel..
    Just cut up the peeled tomatoes, squeeze some juice out of them, a bit of salt, bring em to a boil, put them in HOT jars (right from the dishwasher hot is perfect) top with the lids and voila… It’s music when those little lids pop pop pop. Just put up a slew of bread and butter pickles last week with mom.

    I would freeze but I just have no room in there.

  • Love the tomato story! Been dealing with my own overload this week. I only planted a few plants, but got lots of heirloom volunteers from last year!

    When I slow roast the maters, I don’t bother to skin them. I just seed them, dress with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic slivers, and a dash of balsamic vinegar, and when they are done, I pack them in jars for the fridge. Then I can chop them into salads or pasta and sometimes, I just pop one in my mouth whole!

    I also just found a recipe for a simple tomato soup that is flavored with 4 whole cloves. Again, no peeling, but I do run the cooked stuff through a food mill to remove them later.

    Sorry your vacation was a disaster! Exhaustion is a terrible thing… and so is a bossy spouse who won’t let you just enjoy what you are doing and seeing!! Next time, take a girlfriend instead!!

  • Susan:

    I am so envious. I remember seeing Martha Stewart about 7 or 8 yrs. – before all her trouble with the Feds, and she had a show on roasting roma tomatoes. I think she just used salt, pepper and oil and they looked divine. The sight of those beauties still resonates.

    NOTHING takes the place of fresh tomatoes.

  • Susan:

    yeah I know I just posted but forgot that Martha has a slice of garlic along with salt, fresh pepper and oil. Oh, and if I lived closer I would SO love to help – or do it for you – kowing cooking is not your favorite thing. Cooking has always been my passion.

  • OOOOOOOH! I love homegrown tomatoes! They look delicious beyond compare! Lucky you! Don’t envy all the work, though.
    Glad you’re back I’ve missed you and your outrageous humor , it helps make my day! We Kansas gals are tough!
    Wishing I had a least one good, red, juicy, delicious, homegrown ,luscious, delectable, sweet, wonderful fabulous tomato!

  • barbara:

    So good to have you back blogging. Missed you!

  • Just freezing the tomatoes with no seasoning would be fine too then you could use them for anything. Romas are the best!

  • Yay! Comments are back up! Your eggplant parm looks divine! Last time I tried to cook an eggplant (uhhh – 2 weeks ago) I started broiling it whole, forgot about it, & then remembered when I heard what sounded like a gunshot in my house. Yup – the eggplant exploded. All over the oven. Have I cleaned it? No

  • I am canning tomatoes, making jelly, and applesauce at my house this week. My hands actually began to turn orange from all the tomotoes.

  • jane:

    Glad you are back. My mouth is watering as tomatoes in NY have been HARD HIT by blight….Anyway I will try roasting next year but if you are trying to puree and get rid of skins (yucky) a foley food mill or squeezo strainer are the way to go….advice from a farmer

  • Kellye:

    Wow! Is this your first garden? I planted two tomato plants (first time) and I have only harvested 3 tomatoes. Wish I was there. I would help you fire roast your tomatoes and draw entertaining pictures on the bags! You guys are going to have a delicious winter.

  • I think I’ve become addicted to eggplant parmesan.

  • You need one of those food strainers. I can’t remember the name of the one I have but the other one is called the Vittorio food strainer…
    OK…I just went and looked, the one I like best is called the Velox food strainer. You cook the tomatoes, skin and all and dump them into the food hopper and crank away…the seeds and skins go out one place and the juice comes out another. I usually run the seeds/skins thru a second time. Its also great for applesauce. Google it: Velox food strainer! Your boys would love cranking that thing!

  • Mary:

    Dear Rechelle,
    I’ve been lurking here forever. Glad you could find some good things to do with those red things, but I have to say that your best writing so far was your post about needing a wife. I love your writing Rechelle. You make me laugh and cry. You are a tonic!
    Love your Blog…tell Mike.

  • Found my way here via The Milk Mans Wife–enjoyed reading about your tomato adventure. I love slipping the skins off when I make salsa and spaghetti sauce! Stop over and visit my blog sometime soon.

  • KristifromKS:

    Rechelle- I too have been overwhelmed with tomatoes- Romas just like yours. I just washed them and put them in freezer bags and into the depths of my frozen tundra deep freeze they went. Supposedly- you can just run them under warm water and the peels will slide right off. I’ll let you know how that works out for me- I think that this is salsa canning weekend again. I would suppose if you were needing to use whole tomatoes for something- freezing would not be your best option, but to pulverize into salsa, it should be ok.

  • All those gorgeous perfectly-ripe tomatoes are making me JEALOUS!!
    And I gather that you don’t want comments on your last few posts but they have been spot on and I wrote you an email commiserating (we had a sucky vacation in London too!) but it got sent back to me, which just sort of fits, non?

  • Tomatoes roasting in the oven is one of my all time favorite smells :)

    Thanks so much for this little will help as I soon will have a huge amount of tomatoes ready.


  • Rechelle, My strainer thing is called a ‘foley food mill’ don’t skin just wash, slice in half, simmer and strain for sauce, also you don’t even need to put them into bags for freezing just sit them into the freezer, this is great with a chest freezer because as you remove other food they re-adjust themselves and slowly roll twoard the bottom of the freezer, its kind of like a screwy pinball game. My Husband hates it when I do this, all the better.

  • My tomatoes are only slowly staring to come in, I can’t wait until I have a GLUT of them to deal with.

    And I am so, so, so, SO glad you are back. Your last few posts are beautiful and heart wrenching and express so succinctly what so many of us (or at least I…?) have gone through. Bravo.

  • I am not sure if I an addicted to your blog or to your photos, you are one amazing photographer and I love coming and reading about anything you have to say and take pictures of!

  • Your tomatoes look great. Has anyone fire roasted slicers, cherries, and plum tomatoes? I have a bumper crop of everything and their brother.

    Also, you can put the ripe tomatoes on a cook tray and freeze them. Once they are frozen put them in plastic bags or containers. When I want to use them, I defrost them and their skins just peel off really easily.