If you are growing your own cherry tomatoes or buying them in large bags to save money, you probably need to know how to can cherry tomatoes. Preserving them will help them last much longer, so you don’t feel obligated to use them quickly and you don’t end up throwing any of them away.
Like any fruit or vegetable (which one is the tomato, again?) there is some prep work that needs to go into canning preserving or even freezing them. You want them to last and to be fresh when they come out of storage, right? In order for that to happen, you have to follow the proven methods for preparation, otherwise they will go bad while they are stored away. They won’t taste as fresh as they should, and that’s a problem. We preserve our foods to keep them fresh for longer, and preservation of any kind requires some prep work.
So, how to can cherry tomatoes whole so that when you get them out of the can they are as fresh as when you put them in?
How to Can Whole Cherry Tomatoes?
For canning purposes, you usually want to use whole tomatoes. This keeps them preserved for longer, as the skin safeguards the interior. So, how to prepare your cherry tomatoes for canning?
I like to freeze them first off. You can just place them into a tray or a bag in the freezer. Nothing fancy is needed here. Freezing helps to stop the tomatoes from going bad, slowing down the enzyme process that degrades and deteriorates them over time. They will be frozen to where they cannot degrade so quickly.
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My method of freezing is to put them into a try (which doesn’t have to be covered) and then let them sit in the freezer overnight. By morning, or whenever in the day I get to them, they are frozen solid and ready for canning. There really isn’t much to preparing them for canning. The cherry tomatoes are easy to work with, which is one of the things I love about canning with them.
Next, put them into glass jars to preserve them and store those in the freezer. Wait, you are probably thinking that you can’t store glass jars in the freezer. That is true sometimes, but not all the time. You can actually store mason jars and other canning supplies in the freezer. They will store nicely there, as long as they are the straight sides jars. These tend not to crack and are great for freezer storage.
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The cherry tomatoes can stay in the freezer, stored in the jars, for months and still be good. You don’t have to store them in jars or cans, though. You can also keep your cherry tomatoes in plastic freezer bags. They store well that way and may be able to fit into your freezer a little more snugly.
Fresh or Dehydrated?
Should cherry tomatoes be stored fresh or should you dehydrate them? That’s a question I come across sometimes, and I tell people that it depends on how you want to use them. Obviously, you are not using dehydrated tomatoes on your salad. No one wants, that, but there are uses for dehydrated tomatoes. You can use them in soups, chilli, cobbler and more. If you have a use for dehydrated tomatoes, then by all means store them that way.
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You will have to dehydrate them first, usually done with a dehydrator machine, which is large and kind of annoying in how much space it takes up in the kitchen. But you get these lovely dehydrated tomatoes that stay good to eat for a very long time, and they can be used in a number of dishes. You can store them in the freezer with the same process you would use for storing whole cherry tomatoes.
How to Store Cooked Tomatoes
You can also cook the tomatoes before storing them. In fact, you can store cherry tomatoes in just about any way you can think of. How to can cherry tomatoes pressure cooker style where you cook them first? I do like to us my pressure cooker to prepare tomatoes for a meal, but you can cook them like that to prepare them for canning. That way, when you get them out of storage, they will be ready to eat. You’ll save yourself some work later on, and I love to do that with many of the foods I use.
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If you cook them first or if you blanch them, you need to prepare the tomatoes before placing them into the freezer. This means cutting off the stems and taking out the core. The seeds can affect the taste of the tomatoes if they are stored cooked with the cores intact, so I get rid of them. You don’t have to toss the cores. They can be used in soups and chilis.
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Then, place your tomatoes in a freezer safe bag and store in your freezer for up to three months.
How to Use Canned Cherry Tomatoes
So, you stored your cherry tomatoes in the freezer for a few months and you are ready to take them out and start using them. What do you need to do?
First of all, they need to be thawed out before you can use them. It’s hard to do much with frozen tomatoes. If you stored them in a jar, it should be fairly easy to just take out what you need from the freezer and set that in the refrigerator to thaw. You can leave them in the fridge overnight to thaw out and reach a decent temperature to where they are usable.
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Sometimes, I want the tomatoes faster than the next day when I remove them from the freezer. So, I place the tomatoes in a bowl of room temperature water to thaw out fast. I don’t use hot water, because that can cook the tomatoes, and that’s not the method I want to use to cook them. Try to keep the tomatoes in their freezer container while they sit in the water. A plastic bag is better for this than a jar or can. You may want to transfer the tomatoes from the jar to a bag for this thawing method; otherwise, you can damage your jars.
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Once the tomatoes have fully thawed, you can use them as you normally would. Be careful about leaving tomatoes out for too long at room temperature, especially after they have been stored in the freezer for a while. Also make sure that your storage container is airtight, and don’t leave the tomatoes in the freezer for more than a few months.
Follow these directions and you won’t need specific how to can cherry tomatoes recipes. I have laid out simple steps for you that are easy enough to follow, and you can use your tomatoes as you normally would, once they come out of the freezer and have thawed. There is nothing special about how to use them at that point, and you should be able to follow normal recipes that require fresh tomatoes.