Tomatoes that are picked green and not allowed to ripen on the vine have a very different taste than tomatoes allowed to ripen naturally.
They often have a distinct tangy flavor that many people enjoy and are eaten in various ways.
Green tomatoes can be served as a regular old tomato, fried like green pepper, and they can also be made into a tasty relish.
Numerous questions are surrounding whether or not green tomatoes can be frozen and if they will have a different texture when thawed.
The freezing and then thawing process does cause some changes in the tomatoes, but not to their taste quality.
One change that has been noted is that the tomatoes get a much softer texture when thawed.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of freezing green tomatoes and then offer up some recipes for where to use them after their thawing.
How to Choose Green Tomatoes?
Because you will be freezing these green tomatoes, they must be picked at the peak of freshness.
If you try and freeze rotting or overripe tomatoes, not only will their texture change, but there will most likely also be a sour smell.
Green tomatoes should be selected while completely still green; if they turn yellow, you should try and select ones closest to green.
Also, be aware that there are several different varieties of tomatoes.
Some have less firm flesh than others and will be the best choice for freezing.
Beefsteak, Roma, and Early Girl are all excellent choices for green tomatoes that should be frozen; they also make great eating fresh.
Does Freezing Affect Green Tomatoes?
When frozen green tomatoes are thawed, they will have a somewhat different texture than fresh ones.
The biggest change you will experience is how soft the flesh becomes, which can be an issue depending on your application.
The skins on green tomatoes do not freeze completely solid and remain pliable after being frozen.
However, the problem comes in with the flesh of the tomato itself.
When frozen, the water inside the tomatoes turns to ice and forms large crystals that rip through the cells in which they are located.
This does not happen to a great extent when freezing other vegetables as their cells shrink away from each other, but it does with green tomatoes because their cell walls are very thin.
So while the skins are flexible and can still be used in salads or sandwiches, the flesh of tomato after being frozen is often described as ‘mushy’ and not suitable for cooking.
It is possible to slice off the affected portion and use only what’s left for cooking purposes, but this can lessen the number of servings you would have had if the tomatoes were fresh.
How to Freeze Green Tomatoes?
There are a few different methods for freezing green tomatoes, but what you’ll need to do comes down to how you plan on using them when thawed.
You should freeze in small amounts so that they will not be difficult to handle after being thawed.
If you plan on using your tomatoes in something like a stir-fry or soup, you would just need to cut them into smaller pieces and then freeze them individually.
However, if you don’t necessarily need whole tomatoes but would still like to use the skins, freezing green tomatoes in strips is good.
Another option is to chop them up and mix with other vegetables or add to soups and stews.
Although green tomatoes don’t need to be blanched before freezing, they should still be washed off any dirt or other contaminants.
If the tomatoes are dirty, then a good scrubbing will take care of the issue, and you should let them dry completely after washing.
You can freeze them whole or slice them up, whatever you like.
Make sure to use an airtight container or Ziploc bag to freeze the tomatoes and press out as much of the air from the bags or container as possible.
Write the item’s name and the date on a piece of tape and stick it to the outside of your freezer bag.
It’s also helpful to label the contents if you are stacking bags together in storage.
One common practice is to blanch green tomatoes before transferring them to the freezer not to turn an unappealing color.
To do this, you would place the tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds and then directly into an ice bath.
Then allow them to dry, and you can freeze them whole or as slices.
How to Thaw Frozen Green Tomatoes?
There are several ways to thaw frozen green tomatoes, depending on how long you want to wait until using them.
The fastest option is to use the microwave, but this should only be done if you need them immediately and have no other choice.
Cooking frozen foods in microwave ovens can cause uneven cooking and spot on your food, so it’s best to avoid it.
A better way is to place them under running warm water for a minute or two until the skin has softened.
Green tomatoes can also be left out on the counter to thaw at room temperature, but allow them to sit for at least 4 hours before using.
You can also thaw them in the refrigerator, but this takes significantly longer–anywhere from 6-24 hours.
Remember that you should never refreeze tomatoes after thawing, so use them as soon as possible.
How to Use Thawed Green Tomatoes?
When it comes to using green tomatoes after they have thawed, you can use them for most of your normal cooking purposes, including soups, stews, and even frying.
If you decide to go with fried green tomatoes, then slice them up just like any other tomato for this purpose.
You can batter and deep fry or pan-fry them.
Just make sure to not leave the green tomatoes in the oil for too long, and remove them when fully cooked.
If you choose to use a recipe that requires whole green tomatoes after thawing, cook them just like you would with fresh ones.
Make sure that they are completely cooked through.
If you are using them whole, then bake, roast, or grill them to perfection.
They are a great substitute for fresh tomatoes in all of your tomato recipes, and you can create some delicious Italian dishes with them as well.
How to Tell if Frozen Green Tomatoes are Bad?
To ensure that your frozen green tomatoes are in good condition, you should check the packaging to see how long they have been in storage.
If they are still sealed with no signs of damage, then it’s safe to use them.
You can also check for damages such as dark spots or mold on the skin and inside of the tomato itself.
If any of these are present, do not eat the tomato.
Lastly, you should check for signs of deterioration, such as bad odor or sliminess.
If your green tomatoes have either of these, they should not be eaten, so throw them out immediately.
How Long Do Frozen Green Tomatoes Last in Freezer?
Frozen green tomatoes will remain good for about 2 to 3 months if stored at zero degrees or below.
The best way to maximize frozen green tomatoes’ shelf life and quality are to vacuum seal or place them in an airtight container.
This will help to keep air out and prevent freezer burn.
If you’re planning to store them for longer than a couple of months, then deep-freezing to minus 10°F is the best option.
In conclusion, green tomatoes are very versatile and can be frozen for several uses.
Whether you choose to freeze them whole, slice, or dice them, they’re perfect as an ingredient in any recipe.
Freezing green tomatoes is also great because they will enjoy the harvest even when your garden is not producing.
It’s a smart idea to use this method if you’re planning to plant many green tomato plants in your garden.
Since they are very tasty, this will save money and offer you a wider variety of meals for an entire year.