freeze tomato sauce

sammy zone 7 TulsaJune 24, 2012

Freezing tomatoes will not work for me. What about good tomato sauces for spaghetti and chili? Do you try to cook down the tomatoes for a given period of time to make the sauce more tasty? Since they will taste soggy when thawed, can anyone tell me how to freeze some sauce so that I can use them now? I have large containers full of tomatoes, and there are only four of us. I don't mind thowing away or giving away the cherry tomatoes, but would like to save the large ones in some form.

I have Cheroke Purple, Mortgage Lifter and Celebrity. They are beautiful, and I want to keep them.

I think I could safely freeze any sauce, but I don't want it to be watery and tasteless.

I sure would appreciate any help you can give me.



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I don't know the answer but thanks for asking the question! I've been searching the forums this morning, to figure out what we are going to do with the glut of tomatoes. Lunch today was bruschetta to use up some of the cherry tomatoes. We just got back from a week out of town, and out of desperation I washed and froze 4 gallon-sized ziplock bags of tomatoes right before we left, and plan to use those in cooking things like crockpot chicken chili, etc, where the texture of the tomato isn't important. I'm researching dehydrating cherry tomatoes using a regular oven now, and have lots of tomatoes here to work with. Also heading off to the harvest forum to look up Annie's Salsa recipe, since I am a complete canning novice and supposedly the salsa is one of the things that is easier for noobs. Will keep an eye on this thread for all the pearls of wisdom sure to come this way.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 5:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

There are several ways to cook fresh, raw tomatoes down into a sauce that can be frozen.

Here's how I do it: I wash, core and quarter the tomatoes (or cut smaller ones in half) and run them through my tomato press/strainer using the 'sauce' screen. That gives me what is essentially thin, watery tomato juice. Then I put it in a heavy stockpot and simmer it until the volume is reduced down by about 50%. That gives a fairly thick sauce. You can reduce the volume only by about 30-35% if you want a thinner sauce. I stir fairly often. How long it takes will vary depending on the size of the pot, how full it is and how watery your tomatoes were to begin with, but it is not unusual for me to simmer it for 6 to 8 hours with a normal big stockpot, or up to 10 hours if I am using my 21-quart canner as a stock pot for boiling down tomatoes. I am starting out with about 40-50 lbs. of tomatoes per batch though, and that plays a part in how long it takes to boil down. A smaller quantity of tomatoes will boil down a little more quickly. When it has reached the thickness I desire, I pull the pot off the burner and let it cool. Once the sauce has cooled, I ladle it into plastic freezer storage boxes, leaving 1/2" headspace. I label it "Tomato Sauce" plus the date and put it in the deep freeze. I use the Arrow brand Freezer Boxes sold on the canning aisle at Wal-Mart. Our Wal-Mart is always sold out of them at this time of year, but our Tractor Supply Store usually has them in stock all the time during canning season.

If you do not have a tomato press/strainer, you can either puree your tomatoes in a food processor or you can chop the tomatoes into about 1" size pieces, cook them, and then strain out the seeds using a colander or strainer with fine mesh or small holes.

Later on, you can make whatever you want...pasta sauce, soups, stews, etc. from your frozen sauce. Just thaw it and use it.

If you want to can the tomato sauce in canning jars instead of putting the sauce in freezer boxes, you'll have to add an acidifying agent, usually lemon juice, for safety reasons. The recipe for canning tomato sauce can be found at the linked website. This recipe for canning tomato sauce can be used for making sauce to freeze, but you can skip adding the lemon juice since you're freezing instead of canning.

If what you actually want is to go ahead and make full-fledged spaghetti sauce and then freeze it, there is a recipe for that in the Ball Blue Book that is separate from the standard canned spaghetti sauce recipe. That recipe might be at the Ball website (

Sammy, Reducing the tomato juice via simmering or boiling takes care of the issue of the sauce being too watery. It also intensifies the flavor.

Mia, The most important thing about the Annie's Salsa recipe is to follow the directions exactly and make only the substitutions that are specifically stated as being allowed--such as substituting ReaLemon or ReaLime juice for some or all of the vinegar, or substituting some hotter pepper for some or all of the jalapenos, as long as the volume of peppers remains the same as what is stated in the recipe.

There's a million threads about Annie's Salsa on the Harvest forum because the recipe has been around a while, and there have been some modifications done over the years, based on the advice of the ag extension service that worked with Annie to test the recipe for safety. While being creative and adding your own special touch to recipes when cooking is fun, you cannot employ that creativity in canning because any change you make that could affect density or pH of the product being canned could compromise its safety. That's why everyone on the Harvest forum lists the approved changes when the recipe is discussed--to ensure people don't make unapproved changes.

Hope this helps,


Here is a link that might be useful: Preserving Tomatoes

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:52PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Thank you everyone for such well thought out suggestions. I know exactly what I want to do now.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:32PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Perhaps if some of you have been gardening long enough you will remember the old Crocket's Victory Garden (later changed to just the Victory Garden) television show on Saturday on PBS. Jim Crocket and then after his death, Bob Thompson were the first two marvelous hosts (and gardeners) of this exceptional series. The creator Russell Morash (of This Old House fame), had a section in each show where his wife, Marian Morash, would do a recipe with produce from the garden. I loved it. She had a recipe book printed that told just about everything you needed to know from storing the veggies to preparing them, to recipes for using them in delicious dishes. One of the recipes was for Fall Freezer Tomato Sauce. I must have made a ship load of this stuff when the tomato glut was on and was thrilled in winter to have something from the garden to serve my family. If you get a chance you may want to search used books or other used book avenues and see what you can find. I still have mine and continue to use it to this day. It's called simply "The Victory Garden Cookbook........Maryl

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 1:19AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mary, Thanks for the tip on The Victory Garden cookbook. I will have to watch for that book. I did a Google search and found the recipe, so will link it below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Recipe for Fall Freezer Tomato Sauce

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

When I used to hang out on the soil forum regularly, there was a poster who used to make roasted tomato sauce. Let me see if I can dredge it up in my emails...

Ha, I think I found it....from 2005 :) Can you guess I don't clean out my inbox like I should? :)


Large roasting pan, fill with tomatoes, onions, celery, whatever you have but don't use too much carrot as you can overpower the sauce.
Drizzle all with balsamic and toss to coat, add S&P, and place in a 350� oven and render unto Caesar.
Poke it every now and then, remove tomato skins as they pop up and when it is a consistency you want for your sauce adjust seasonings.
Gives you a tomato sauce that is redolent of roast vegetable. Don't forget the garlic, just throw in whole cloves.
As an aside, the moisture driven off and the time it takes makes immediately afterwards a good time to clean the oven, everything just slides off or, if you have a self clean, it works better, less residue to wipe out.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:11PM
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