This freezer tomato sauce is a simple homemade spaghetti sauce made with that glut of garden tomatoes. Stash it in the freezer now and thank yourself later.
This freezer tomato sauce is something you make once and indulge in for months afterwards. Consider it an investment in your future winter self. Editor’s Note: This recipe makes ample tomato sauce, which in turn equates to quite a lot of freezer space. Although we’re proponents of big batch cooking, you could easily halve this recipe and still have an adequate stash to see you through until next tomato season—well, okay, maybe until next month.–David Leite
Freezer Tomato Sauce
- 8 pounds cherry tomatoes or small plum tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 shallots finely chopped
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves crushed to a paste with 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 large basil or rosemary sprigs
- 3 large flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)
- Plop the tomatoes into a large pot or Dutch oven and add the water. Dampen a large piece of crumpled parchment paper with cold water, open it, and place it directly on the tomatoes. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally to keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom.
☞TESTER TIP: Don't remove the lid during cooking. The tomatoes are cooking in the steam and you don't want any of that precious heat or liquid to escape.
- Transfer the softened tomatoes to a food mill or food processor, working in 2 or 3 batches if necessary, and process until smooth. If using a food processor, strain the purée, discarding the skins and seeds.
- Place the strained tomatoes, oil, shallots, garlic, and herbs in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until reduced to about 12 cups.
- Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, the sugar. Use immediately or freeze for later.
- To freeze: Let the tomato sauce cool completely to room temperature. Divvy it among six 1-quart plastic freezer bags—each bag will contain about 2 cups sauce, making each bag only half full. Place the bag on its side on a flat surface in the freezer until solid, at least 1 hour. Then stand the flat bags of frozen sauce on end, as you would books on a shelf, to minimize the amount of space they take in your deep freeze.To thaw: Thaw the frozen bags of sauce by completely immersing them in a bowl of cold water, about 1 1/2 hours to partially thaw. Or place the bags of tomato sauce on a plate and thaw in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. You don't have to completely thaw the sauce before you rewarm it.To serve: Transfer the thawed sauce to a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes. If a thicker sauce is desired, continue to simmer until reduced.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This freezer tomato sauce recipe is a great and easy way to bring summer tomato flavor to the doldrums of winter without the scary canning part!
If you have a food mill, use it instead of a food processor because you won’t have to strain the sauce to remove skins and seeds. I didn’t reduce it as much as they said; I like to reduce the sauce instead when I defrost and use it. I used basil instead of rosemary, which makes the sauce more versatile later on. I omitted the parsley, as it browns quickly when cooking and is better added either when putting the cooked sauce in the bag, or just before use, since parsley is available year-round.
This is a very simple tomato sauce. This sauce is full of flavor and timely ingredients with numerous tomatoes available at markets.
This freezer tomato sauce is sweet yet tart. I’d reduce it even further after defrosting, as ice crystals may build up during freezing and thin the sauce.
This freezer tomato sauce was easy and tasted delicious. It’s the height of summer and tomatoes are pretty good. It was nice and thick and didn’t lose its taste after defrosting. I would only use 2 cloves next time.
Originally published August 20, 2016