Refrigerating then freezing homemade tomato juice/puree?
September 24, 2021 4:59 PM   Subscribe

How long can I keep homemade tomato puree refrigerated before freezing it for storage? Does the length of the refrigerated storage affect the frozen storage life? Reasons why I would want to do this and details on the procedure are inside.

I have been growing Roma and San Marzano tomatoes in my garden this year, and have been preserving many of them for winter use by cutting them up, boiling them for 10 minutes, running them through a food mill, then freezing the resulting puree in sealed jars.

However, sometimes I end up with a leftover third/half/two-thirds of a jar of puree at the end of processing a batch of tomatoes. I would like to refrigerate these partial jars for a few days until more tomatoes ripen for processing, but I haven't been able to find any information on how long it would be safe to keep the partial jar refrigerated before filling it the rest of the way and freezing it.

Various sources on the Internet claim that you can refrigerate tomato juice for 7-10 days, and that you can freeze it for 8-12 months. But I don't know how (if at all) having stored the juice refrigerated would affect its shelf life once frozen.

I will be grateful to hear any ideas on this, whether from experience, theory, or other sources.
posted by Juffo-Wup to Food & Drink (4 answers total)
Best answer: 7-10 days sounds like a reasonable upper bound; that fits with my experience that tomato purée starts to mold after about 2 weeks in the fridge.

I can’t imagine a few days in the fridge would affect shelf life once frozen. From a food safety perspective, frozen food keeps essentially forever as long as it stays frozen. The shelf life is more about quality and taste, e.g. things can tend to get freezer burnt.
posted by mekily at 5:17 PM on September 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Freeze the jar partially full, fill it the rest of the way when you have more puree, repeat until full.
posted by disconnect at 6:03 PM on September 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: It is not going to affect how long you can freeze it but how long you can keep the defrosted sauce in the fridge afterwards. Freezing does not reset the clock on refrigerated life span. If you defrost and use up that’s not going to matter. If you defrost and only use half and save the rest for later or defrost and change your dinner plans and don’t get back to it until a few days later that may be relevant.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:24 PM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: This is perfect, thanks for all the info.

I don't know why I hadn't thought about simply freezing the partial jar then filling and freezing it the rest of the way later. Also, when I do defrost these, I will be using all of the contents either at once or within two days at most, so it sounds like that approach would work fine too.

Thanks again!
posted by Juffo-Wup at 12:47 PM on September 25, 2021

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