Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cuisine and are used in many dishes, such as salsa verde, enchiladas, and pozole. If you have an abundance of tomatillos and want to save them for later, freezing them is a great option. Freezing tomatillos is a simple process that can extend their shelf life for up to 12 months. In this guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of freezing tomatillos.
What Are Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are a type of tomato that is native to Mexico. They are a staple in Mexican cuisine and are used to make salsa verde, enchiladas, and many other dishes. Tomatillos are similar in appearance to green tomatoes, but they have a unique tart flavor that sets them apart. While tomatillos are available year-round, they are at their peak during the summer months. Freezing tomatillos is a great way to preserve their flavor and extend their shelf life.
Before freezing tomatillos, it’s important to select ripe ones. Here are some tips for selecting ripe tomatillos:
- Look for tomatillos that are firm and unblemished.
- Choose tomatillos that have a bright green color and feel heavy for their size.
- Avoid tomatillos that are yellow or brown, as they are overripe and will not freeze well.
Preparing Tomatillos for Freezing
Before freezing tomatillos, they need to be prepared properly. Here’s how to do it:
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water.
- Cut off the stems and discard them.
- Cut the tomatillos into quarters or halves, depending on their size.
Note: If you prefer, you can freeze tomatillos whole, but they will take longer to thaw.
Blanching is the process of quickly boiling the tomatillos to stop enzyme activity and kill bacteria. Here’s how to blanch tomatillos:
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the tomatillos to the boiling water and let them cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatillos from the boiling water and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
After blanching, tomatillos need to be cooled down to prevent them from cooking further. Here’s how to cool tomatillos:
- Leave the tomatillos in the ice water for 3-5 minutes, or until they are completely cooled.
- Drain the tomatillos and pat them dry with a clean towel.
Packing Tomatillos for Freezing
Proper packing is essential for freezing tomatillos. Here are some tips for packing tomatillos for freezing:
- Place the cooled tomatillos in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let the tomatillos freeze for 2-3 hours, or until they are completely frozen.
- Once the tomatillos are frozen, transfer them to airtight freezer bags or containers.
Note: It’s important to remove as much air as possible from the bags or containers to prevent freezer burn.
Labeling and Storing Tomatillos
When it comes to labeling and storing frozen tomatillos, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Proper labeling is essential for keeping track of the age of your frozen tomatillos, while proper storage is essential for maintaining their quality and flavor over time.
Labeling frozen tomatillos is easy. Simply label your freezer bags or containers with the date that you froze them. This will help you keep track of their age, which is important because frozen tomatillos will begin to deteriorate after about 12 months.
Once your tomatillos are labeled, you’ll need to store them properly. It’s important to store frozen tomatillos in airtight containers or bags to prevent freezer burn. Freezer burn can cause the tomatillos to become dry and discolored, which can affect their flavor and texture.
To prevent freezer burn, try to remove as much air as possible from your freezer bags or containers before sealing them. You can do this by pressing out any excess air with your hands or by using a vacuum sealer.
Once your tomatillos are properly labeled and stored, you can place them in the freezer. It’s best to store frozen tomatillos in the back of the freezer, where the temperature is the most consistent.
Remember to only freeze tomatillos that are fresh and in good condition. If you freeze tomatillos that are already overripe or damaged, they may not freeze well and can become mushy when thawed.
Note: Tomatillos can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months.
When it’s time to use your frozen tomatillos, it’s important to thaw them properly to maintain their texture and flavor. Here are the steps to follow for thawing frozen tomatillos:
- Remove the frozen tomatillos from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator. This will allow the tomatillos to thaw slowly and evenly.
- Let the tomatillos thaw overnight in the refrigerator. This will ensure that they are fully thawed and ready to use.
Note: If you’re in a hurry, you can also thaw tomatillos more quickly by placing them in a bowl of cold water. This method will take less time than thawing in the refrigerator, but it’s important to remember that it can also cause the tomatillos to become waterlogged and affect their texture. If you choose to thaw tomatillos in water, make sure to change the water every 30 minutes until they are fully thawed.
Once your tomatillos are fully thawed, you can use them in your favorite recipes. Keep in mind that thawed tomatillos may be slightly softer than fresh ones, but they should still have a good flavor and texture.
It’s important to never refreeze thawed tomatillos. Once they have been thawed, they should be used within a few days. If you have leftover thawed tomatillos that you don’t plan to use, it’s best to discard them rather than refreeze them.
FAQs about Freezing Tomatillos
Can you freeze tomatillos with the husk on?
It’s not recommended to freeze tomatillos with the husk on, as it can affect the texture of the tomatillos. To freeze tomatillos, it’s best to remove the husk and blanch them before freezing.
Can you freeze salsa verde made with fresh tomatillos?
Yes, you can freeze salsa verde made with fresh tomatillos. Follow the same steps for preparing, blanching, and freezing the tomatillos before making the salsa. Once the salsa is made, store it in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze as you would with the tomatillos.
Can you freeze cooked tomatillos?
Yes, you can freeze cooked tomatillos. Follow the same steps for preparing, blanching, and freezing the tomatillos before cooking them. Once they are cooked, allow them to cool completely before freezing them in a freezer-safe container or bag.
Can you freeze tomatillos without blanching them first?
While it’s possible to freeze tomatillos without blanching them first, blanching is recommended to help preserve their flavor, texture, and color. Blanching helps to stop the enzymes in the tomatillos from breaking down, which can cause them to become mushy and lose their flavor.
How long can you freeze tomatillos?
Tomatillos can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months. However, it’s best to use them within 6 to 8 months for optimal flavor and texture.
Freezing tomatillos is a simple process that can extend their shelf life for up to 12 months. By following these easy steps, you can freeze tomatillos and enjoy them in your favorite dishes all year long. Remember to select ripe tomatillos, blanch and cool them properly, pack and label them for freezing, and thaw them correctly when it’s time to use them. With these tips, you’ll be freezing tomatillos like a pro in no time!