How to Preserve Tomatoes? Top Ways for Tomato Preservation


Tomatoes are a versatile and delicious fruit that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. However, they have a relatively short shelf life, and preserving them can be a great way to enjoy their flavor and nutrients all year round. 

In this article, we will explore various methods of tomato preservation, including freezing, canning, and dehydrating. We will also discuss how to preserve cherry tomatoes, both for immediate use and for the winter season. 

Additionally, we will cover techniques for preserving tomatoes without canning and saving tomato seeds for future planting.

What is Tomato Preservation?

What is Tomato Preservation

Tomato preservation refers to the process of extending the shelf life of tomatoes while retaining their flavor and nutritional value. It allows us to enjoy tomatoes even when they are out of season. There are several methods available for preserving tomatoes, each offering its unique benefits and considerations.

3 Top Tomato Preservation Methods

Preserving tomatoes is a great way to enjoy their delicious flavor and nutritional benefits throughout the year. Whether you have a bountiful harvest from your garden or simply want to take advantage of seasonal sales, learning about the top tomato preservation methods can help you savor this versatile fruit for months to come.

Here are 3 top tomato preservation methods.

1. Freezing Tomatoes

Freezing is a popular method for preserving tomatoes because it retains their fresh flavor and texture. To freeze tomatoes, start by selecting ripe and unblemished ones. Wash and dry them thoroughly, then remove the stem and core. You can choose to freeze them whole, halved, or sliced.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on freezing tomatoes:

  • Wash and dry the tomatoes.
  • Remove the stem and core.
  • Decide whether to freeze them whole, halved, or sliced.
  • Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray.
  • Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until solid.
  • Transfer the frozen tomatoes to airtight freezer bags or containers.
  • Label and date the containers before returning them to the freezer.

Pro tip: Blanching the tomatoes before freezing can help preserve their color and texture. To blanch, plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a minute or two, then transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Peel the tomatoes, if desired, before freezing.

2. Canning Tomatoes

Canning Tomatoes

Canning tomatoes is an excellent preservation method for creating sauces, salsas, and other tomato-based products. The canning process involves heating tomatoes in jars to kill bacteria and create a vacuum seal that prevents spoilage.

Here’s how to can tomatoes:

  • Select ripe and firm tomatoes.
  • Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and remove the stem and core.
  • Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or two.
  • Transfer the blanched tomatoes to an ice bath.
  • Peel the tomatoes and cut them into desired sizes.
  • Prepare canning jars by sterilizing them.
  • Pack the jars with the tomatoes, leaving a suitable headspace.
  • Add citric acid or lemon juice to each jar to maintain acidity.
  • Remove air bubbles and ensure the rims are clean.
  • Place lids and bands on the jars, tightening them fingertip-tight.
  • Process the jars in a boiling water bath for the recommended time.
  • Remove the jars from the water bath and let them cool on a towel.
  • Check the seals, label them, and store the jars in a cool, dark place.

Note: Follow proper canning techniques and guidelines to ensure food safety.

3. Dehydrating Tomatoes

Dehydrating tomatoes is an excellent method for creating sun-dried tomatoes or tomato powder. It removes moisture from the tomatoes, making them shelf-stable and intensifying their flavor.

Here’s how to dehydrate tomatoes:

  • Select ripe and meaty tomatoes.
  • Wash the tomatoes and remove the stem.
  • Cut the tomatoes into slices or halves, depending on preference.
  • Arrange the tomato pieces on dehydrator trays or baking sheets.
  • Set the dehydrator or oven temperature to around 135°F (57°C).
  • Dehydrate the tomatoes until they are dry and leathery.
  • Allow the tomatoes to cool completely before storing.
  • Store the dehydrated tomatoes in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.

Pro tip: You can marinate the dehydrated tomatoes in herbs, olive oil, or vinegar for added flavor.

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How to Preserve Cherry Tomatoes?

How to Preserve Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are small, flavorful, and perfect for snacking or adding to salads. Preserving them ensures you can enjoy their sweetness even when they’re out of season. There are several methods you can use to preserve cherry tomatoes, including freezing, canning, and drying.

Freezing Cherry Tomatoes

Freezing cherry tomatoes is a quick and easy way to preserve them for later use. Here’s how:

  • Wash the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry.
  • Remove the stems if desired.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Freeze the tomatoes until solid.
  • Transfer the frozen cherry tomatoes to freezer bags or containers.
  • Label and date the containers before returning them to the freezer.

Canning Cherry Tomatoes

Canning cherry tomatoes allows you to create sauces, salsa, or whole tomatoes for later use. Follow the canning steps mentioned earlier, adjusting the processing time according to the size of the cherry tomatoes.

Drying Cherry Tomatoes

Drying cherry tomatoes concentrates their flavor and makes them perfect for snacking or adding to various dishes. Here’s how to dry cherry tomatoes:

  • Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.
  • Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature setting or use a food dehydrator.
  • Place the cherry tomato halves on a baking sheet or dehydrator tray.
  • Dry the tomatoes until they are shriveled and leathery.
  • Allow the dried cherry tomatoes to cool completely before storing them in airtight containers.

How to Preserve Cherry Tomatoes for Winter?

Preserve Cherry Tomatoes for Winter

Preserving cherry tomatoes for winter ensures you can enjoy their vibrant flavor even when they’re not in season. Freezing, canning, and drying methods can be used, as mentioned in the previous section. Additionally, pickling cherry tomatoes is another delicious option.

Pickling Cherry Tomatoes

Pickled cherry tomatoes add a tangy and savory twist to salads, sandwiches, or charcuterie boards. Here’s a simple pickling recipe:


  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)


  • Wash the cherry tomatoes and pierce each one with a toothpick or skewer.
  • Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, garlic, peppercorns, dill, and bay leaf in a saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes to the boiling liquid and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Transfer the cherry tomatoes and the liquid to clean, sterilized jars.
  • Seal the jars and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before consuming.
  • The pickled cherry tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

How to Preserve Tomatoes Without Canning?

Canning tomatoes may require specific equipment and a significant amount of time. However, there are alternative methods to preserve tomatoes without canning. These methods include freezing, drying, and making tomato sauces or pastes.

Freezing Tomatoes without Canning

Freezing is a simple and effective way to preserve tomatoes without the need for canning. Follow the steps mentioned earlier for freezing tomatoes. You can freeze them whole, halved, or sliced, depending on your preference.

Drying Tomatoes without Canning

Drying tomatoes, whether in the oven or using a food dehydrator, is a great method for preserving them without canning. Refer to the steps mentioned earlier for dehydrating tomatoes.

Making Tomato Sauces or Pastes

Another way to preserve tomatoes without canning is by making sauces or pastes. Cook down fresh tomatoes with herbs, garlic, and spices to create delicious sauces that can be frozen in portions for later use. You can also make tomato paste by simmering tomato puree until it thickens, then spreading it on a baking sheet and drying it in the oven.

How to Preserve Tomato Seeds?

Preserve Tomato Seeds

Saving tomato seeds allows you to grow your tomatoes from the varieties you enjoy. It’s a simple process that involves extracting the seeds, cleaning them, and storing them properly for future planting.

Extracting Tomato Seeds

To extract tomato seeds:

  • Select ripe and healthy tomatoes.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally.
  • Gently squeeze the tomato halves over a bowl to release the seeds and surrounding gel.
  • Scrape the seeds and gel into the bowl using a spoon or your fingers.

Cleaning Tomato Seeds

Cleaning tomato seeds helps remove the gel coating, which can inhibit germination. Here’s how to clean tomato seeds:

  • Transfer the seeds and gel mixture to a glass or plastic container.
  • Add some water to the container, filling it about halfway.
  • Cover the container loosely with a lid or plastic wrap.
  • Let the mixture ferment for a few days, stirring daily.
  • After a few days, the mixture will develop a layer of mold.
  • Fill the container with water and gently stir to separate the seeds from the gel.
  • The good seeds will sink to the bottom, while the bad ones and debris will float.
  • Pour off the floating seeds and debris, being careful not to lose the good seeds.
  • Repeat the process of filling the container with water, stirring, and pouring off until only clean seeds remain.

Drying and Storing Tomato Seeds

After cleaning the tomato seeds, dry them thoroughly before storing them. Here’s how:

  • Place the clean seeds on a paper towel or fine mesh screen.
  • Spread the seeds out in a single layer, allowing them to dry completely.
  • Ensure the seeds are dehydrated to avoid mold or rot during storage.
  • Once dry, transfer the seeds to a labeled envelope or airtight container.
  • Store the seeds in a cool, dry, and dark place until ready for planting.

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Preserving tomatoes allows you to enjoy their fresh flavor and nutritional benefits throughout the year. Whether you choose to freeze, can, dehydrate, or make sauces, tomatoes can be easily preserved using various methods. 

Additionally, cherry tomatoes can be preserved specifically for the winter season through freezing, canning, drying, or pickling. Don’t forget to save tomato seeds for future planting and to experiment with different tomato varieties. 

With these preservation techniques, you can savor the taste of tomatoes long after the harvest season ends.

FAQs about Tomato Preservation

Can I freeze whole tomatoes without blanching them?

While blanching tomatoes before freezing are recommended to maintain their color and texture, you can freeze whole tomatoes without blanching. However, keep in mind that the texture may become softer once thawed.

Do I need special equipment to can tomatoes?

Canning tomatoes requires basic canning equipment, including canning jars, lids, bands, a water bath canner, and a jar lifter. These tools ensure proper sealing and safety during the canning process.

How long can I store dehydrated tomatoes?

Dehydrated tomatoes can be stored for up to a year in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Ensure they are fully dry and free from moisture before storing.

Can I use frozen cherry tomatoes directly in recipes?

Frozen cherry tomatoes are best used in cooked dishes such as sauces, soups, or stews, as freezing alters their texture. Thawed cherry tomatoes may become mushy, but their flavor will remain intact.

Can I pickle cherry tomatoes without canning?

Pickling cherry tomatoes without canning is possible by storing them in the refrigerator. However, for longer shelf life and pantry storage, it is recommended to follow proper canning techniques.

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