Fresh tomato fruit is considered a perishable commodity by virtue of its limited shell life, and so is every other commodity that highlights it’s essence as a major constituent.
A few culinary staples: homemade ketchup, tomato puree, tomato paste and tomato sauce all flare up into mind the moment we hear this. But don’t be scared at all, they’re perfectly safe to preserve in the freezer for an extended duration.
Here’s more to know about freezing the highlight of this article — tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce can be frozen for up to 4 months in a freezer safe container, preferably a heavy duty bag of plastic or aluminum foil.
Texture and nutrient loss aren’t typically the problem with a thawed out tomato sauce, especially the most basic ones out there, but flavor loss can be, which is usually affected by a variety of factors such as: how long the tomato sauce was left to store in the freezer, how good the packaging was prior to putting the sauce in the freezer, how high-quality the initial ingredients were, and most important of all, what ingredients were used in the preparation of the sauce.
Below, we explore more on the nitty-gritties of storing tomato sauce in the freezer. So keep reading to find out.
How to Freeze Tomato Sauce
1) The trivial things to note
The trivial things are the stuffs you may not necessarily have control over as at the time you’re reading this; because you probably have a bowl of piping hot sauce underneath the very phone you’re using to browse this info guide.
But with a knowledge of them, you are better equipped to be able to store the best version of your tomato sauce when next you you’re making one.
So let’s go through them.
a) Quality of tomato
When it comes to many food items and ingredients, the rule of “quality proportionality” often plays out: which is that the quality you begin with will definitely influence the quality you end up with, no matter the amount of tweaking involved.
So picking the best possible versions of tomato; the spot and rot free ones, and also the better tasting varieties, like roma and San Marzano, will definitely lend you a better tasting sauce after freezing, because like it or not, all foods deteriorate over time when kept in the freezer, especially in taste and texture. So make sure you pay attention to this crucial tip when next you’re making tomato sauces to stuff in the freezer.
b) Does it matter what form of tomato you use?
No it does not. What matters, as mentioned above, is quality. Whether or not you employ fresh or canned tomatoes wouldn’t influence taste, nutrient content and texture after freezing, or maybe it would (by virtue of each types’ uniqueness), but not by a detectable margin. So feel free to use canned or fresh tomatoes for your tomato sauces.
c) Seasoning & herbs
Not all seasonings are created equally, and to be honest, some are better off sprinkled after the tomato sauce has served its chilling time in the freezer and is being warmed up over a stovetop. These set of seasonings just never keep well within the frigid perimeters of the freezer, so they lose their freshness quickly, and may sometimes impart a vague flavor to the rest of the sauce. Some of these spices include: garlic, paprika and curry.
For fresh herbs, if you’re fond of chopping them by hand and tossing them over a piping hot sauce, it’s best to hold back till after freezing, because the herbs are apt to turning soggy and limp, and then their flavoring capacity will suffer too with prolonged storage. Dried forms of herbs may be cooked with the tomato sauce before freezing, but the best advice I can give is to hold them back too.
d) Other pairings
If you’re the type that loves incorporating all sort of vegetables into your tomato sauce, you want to think twice before doing so now, because the veggies: i.e zucchini and mushrooms can suffer the same fate as fresh herbs which is go limp and soggy post freezing. With some veggies, the side effects can be tolerated, with some however, for example mushrooms, they simply cannot.
2) Turning down the heat (fridge)
Now, over to the steps for freezing tomato sauce.
First, is to turn the temperature setting of the fridge to the lowest. Hot food put into the fridge does have the capacity to raise the internal temperature of the fridge to unsafe levels, depending on the quality of the fridge.
So you want to avoid that by first turning the down the temperature of the fridge to make it even colder.
3) Cooling down the tomato sauce
Once you’ve set the temperature knob to the desired setting, it’s time to lower down the temperature of the soup too.
The two methods, together, may seem like overplay, until you struggle with a mini fridge (or any fridge) that takes on the surface temperature of the sun the moment you load it up with room temperature sodas, and takes forever to get back to normal. (Talk less of a warm soup).
So to do that, transfer the bottom, and only the bottom) of the pot holding the soup into an ice bath, and occasionally stir the sauce with a ladle to give off heat faster.
To speed things up a bit, you can portioning the soups into shallow containers no deeper than 3 inches or freezer safe bags, and place the respective bottoms of the containers inside the ice bath. For the ice batch, it should be your sink.
When the temperature of the soup drops to 70 F, proceed to place the soup in the refrigerator to cool further to 40F. Ensure to leave the soup un-lidded (if in a shallow plastic container), and transfer to the freezer when it reaches the target temperature.
The reason why we just don’t continue to stir until the whole sauce cools down is due to something called the danger zone.
This is the range of temperatures (140 to 40 F) where bacterial multiplication happens the fastest (especially when the sauce is held in that zone for longer than 2 hours).
Relying on elbow grease to cool down the entire batch of soup may take more than 2 hours on the counter, depending on the size of soup you have.
So to be on the safer side, it’s advised to cool down the soup to 70 F using the ice bath method (with takes roughly less than an hour), and then let the refrigerator take over from there.
4) Separate into batch (for easy use)
After cooling, you want to separate the soup into smaller portions which would be easy for you to use later on. That’s if you haven’t portioned them in the soup cooling process. Freezing a sauce into a huge block of solid and then trying chop out pieces from it for the stew at 2 is a difficult venture, so better safe than sorry.
For storage, you want to use a rigid heavy duty bag like the Solimo freezer gallon bag from Amazon. Aluminum foil freezer bag works well too.
You can also use containers such as shallow plastic containers and wide mouth jars meant for freezing items, be sure to give at least 1 inch head space for the sauce to expand, and also press out as much air as you can after stuffing in the soup.
Containers you want to avoid include those that come with milk, cottage cheese, yoghurt etc. These are never moisture-vapor proof and your frozen sauce will likely suffer from freezer burn which will affect its flavor.
While freezing, you want position the containers towards the back of the freezer and against the freezer walls for quick freezing. Then rearrange well after they have frozen.
5) Use ice cube trays
If you wish, you can turn the sauce into cubes prior to stuffing them inside a freezing container and then freezing. To do that, transfer the refrigerated soup, after it reaches 40F, into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then stuff inside a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and freeze as directed.
Freeze tomato sauce for a maximum of 3 to 4 months, but bear in mind that the earlier you use the sauce, the better.
Thawing tomato sauce
Thaw tomato sauce in the refrigerator overnight, or use them frozen. Don’t forget to add up the spices and ingredients you purposely left out.
Refrigerating tomato sauce
Tomato sauce can be refrigerated for no more than one week. Be sure inspect well before using.
Tomato sauce can be frozen for up to 4 months and refrigerated for no longer than a week. Although the more the sauce is left to sit in the freezer, the more it deteriorates in quality.
Tomato sauce can be stored inside a heavy duty freezer bag like aluminum foil bag, plastic bag, freezer bag or even inside containers such as wide mouth glass jars meant for freezer use.