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Nothing tastes more like summer than a fresh tomato! But, what to do when your tomato crop provides more tomatoes than you can use before they rot?
While canning is the traditional means for saving tomatoes, you can also use a vacuum sealer to save them for later use.
If you’re unsure of how to vacuum seal tomatoes, don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Why switch to vacuum sealing instead of canning tomatoes?
Canning tomatoes is a classic summer chore that’s great to do with friends and family.
While we’re certainly not knocking tradition, maybe there are times when you need a faster, easier way to preserve tomatoes.
Canning is time intensive and expensive. It requires a significant upfront investment in materials, and it takes a lot of work.
You have to prepare the jars, lids, tongs, water bath canners, etc.
Canning is no easy feat!
So, if you’re looking for a fast, easy, inexpensive way to store tomatoes, consider vacuum sealing them.
It’s virtually hassle free and still gives you an excellent result.
How to vacuum seal tomatoes
Vacuum sealing tomatoes is very easy if you know a couple of tricks. Here’s how to get started!
How long can you store vacuum sealed tomatoes?
Unfortunately, vacuum sealed tomatoes do not last forever. In fact, they only last a few months!
This will help you deal with the fresh vegetable drought during winter, but it probably won’t be long enough to tide you over until the next harvest.
If properly stored, vacuum sealed tomatoes will last for up to 6 months. However, depending on your environment, they may expire slightly sooner.
Warm environments and improper storage techniques reduce shelf life.
To combat this relatively short shelf life, flash freeze tomatoes before vacuum sealing.
Though freezing will break down tomatoes’ sturdy texture, they will last significantly longer.
If you flash freeze tomatoes and store them in the freezer, they will keep for up to a year.
Flash freezing also helps retain some of the fresh juices that give garden tomatoes such a distinct flavor.
How will you use the tomatoes later?
While you may not know exactly which dishes your tomatoes will start in later, you need to have a general idea of how you plan to use them.
Once you vacuum seal tomatoes, they will be very different from the juicy, strong tomatoes you plucked from the garden.
Storage causes tomatoes to lose their original structure.
When you reopen the vacuum sealed bag, you will find a gooey, soupy mess in place of the rigid tomatoes you stored.
This is ok! However, you need to plan to use the tomatoes accordingly.
If you want to use them in a sauce, soup, or stew, they’ll be perfect.
But, if you think you’ll be able to have a tasty BLT in the middle of winter or put them into a salad, think again.
Vacuum sealed tomatoes will not work for these recipes. If you’re looking for a traditional tomato texture, stick with fresh tomatoes.
Prepare the tomatoes
Unfortunately, many people often overlook this crucial step to vacuum sealing.
Vegetables are quite sensitive, and it’s important to prepare them before vacuum sealing.
If you do not properly prepare tomatoes before vacuum sealing them, you’re likely to find spoiled tomatoes long before their anticipated expiration date.
To prepare tomatoes, thoroughly wash them.
Then, peel the tomatoes and cut them into smaller pieces.
You can cut them as small as you would like depending on your future plans.
Make sure that they are free of dirt and pests.
Flash freeze the tomatoes
Once the tomatoes are cut, arrange them on parchment paper on a flat, freezer-safe tray.
Put them in a single layer and make sure that none are touching.
Then, place the tomatoes into the freezer until ice crystals completely coat the surface.
It’s time to vacuum seal!
When you’re ready to vacuum seal tomatoes, the process is very easy.
Check with the manufacturer of yoru vacuum sealer about the best bag for fruits and vegetables.
Make sure that the bag is clean, free of dirt and dust.
Remove any small particles that may rest on the surface for a good seal.
If you use water, allow the bag to completely dry before sealing.
Ensure that the tomatoes are dry.
For best results, keep them in the freezer until the minute that you’re ready to place them into the vacuum sealed bag.
Place the flash frozen tomatoes into the vacuum sealed bag, leaving a small amount of space to ensure a good seal.
Arrange the tomatoes in the manner that you want them to be stored.
Once you vacuum seal the bag, it will retain its shape. Seal tomatoes in a flat bag for convenient storage.
Leave at least an inch at the top.
If you plan to reseal the bag, leave between three and four inches for good measure.
Align the open end of the bag inside the vacuum opening.
Place the bag on a flat, sturdy surface, or hold the bag to support it.
Run the vacuum until no air remains in the bag.
As the vacuum removes the air, the bag will become flat.
If you’re using an automatic vacuum sealer, your unit will power down when the bag is sealed.
Always read your manufacturer’s guide to learn how your vacuum sealer operates, and follow the instructions for storing fruits and vegetables.
Once the bag is sealed, label it using a permanent marker.
Write the date and type of tomato stored so that you will know the contents when you need them in the future.
Then, store the tomatoes in the freezer to preserve them for future recipes.
To make the most of your stored vegetables, use the oldest package first.
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