How To Stew Tomatoes

Have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden? Do have tomatoes that are getting overripe? Don’t give them away or toss them. You have options!

If your tomatoes are getting a little overripe, or even a bit wrinkly, there’s no need to throw them away. You can make your own stewed tomatoes to freeze. Then, when you’re making chili or another recipe that calls for stewed tomatoes, you just pull them out. It will save you money and avoid waste. It’s a win/win!

I have a chili recipe (future post!) that calls for about 3 stewed tomatoes. I could, of course, buy a can. But why, when I can just make my own?

There are a lot of different ways to stew tomatoes. Typically, people quarter them, add salt or sugar, and let them cook away for awhile. I prefer this method, as I am able to make the tomatoes less chunky. I’m not a fan of tomato chunks in my chili!

Get The Ice Bath Ready!

The first step is to boil a large pot of water. While that gets going, fill a large bowl with cold water and add ice.

how to stew tomatoes

Once the water comes to a boil, add the tomatoes. It will temporarily slow the boil, but it should come back up in a few minutes. Boil the tomatoes for about 10 minutes. The skins will split and peel, and many of the tomatoes might lost their skins altogether.

Depending on how many tomatoes I have, I usually boil them in batches of four. I find that more or less equals a 15 oz can of tomatoes. I typically use stewed tomatoes for chili, spaghetti sauce, or soup, so the amount does not need to be precise.

Once the tomatoes are done, use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and submerge in the ice bath. I use my pasta spoon, which is sort of a giant spork! Let the tomatoes sit in the ice water for a good 5 minutes to cool down.

how to stew tomatoes

Break Down The Tomatoes

Remove the tomatoes to a cutting board. Remove the skins. I don’t like chunks, so I flatten the tomatoes with the side of my knife, and then dice them. Because they are cooked and soft, they are nearly pureed by the time I’m done.

Just a note, they might be hot in the center. Be careful!

how to stew tomatoes

You could, as an alternative, place the tomatoes in a blender after removing the skins, but I prefer them a little less smooth. That would be more like a tomato sauce.

Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature. Divide them to your desired amounts. You could weigh them, i.e. making them equal to a 15 oz can of stewed tomatoes. For myself, I simply use 3 large or 4 small tomatoes to equal 1 can. Place into 1 quart freezer bags, press the air out, and freeze flat. If you need to, put a cookie sheet in the freezer and lay the tomatoes on it.

how to freeze tomatoes

An alternative for overripe tomatoes is Bloody Mary mix, which you can also freeze. Recipe forthcoming!

How To Stew Tomatoes

Have overripe tomatoes? Don't just throw them away! Make easy and quick stewed tomatoes to add to chili or spaghetti sauce!
Prep Time5 mins
Course: How To
Keyword: Stewed Tomatoes
Author: Alyssa Alexander


  • Tomatoes washed
  • Water
  • Ice


  • Boil water over high heat. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water and add ice.
  • Add tomatoes to the boiling water and cook until the skins are nearly off, about 10 minutes. Boil in batches of three large or four small.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes and place them directly in the ice bath. Cool at least 5 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes from ice bath and place on a large cutting board. Flatten tomatoes with the side of a chef's knife (or other implement). Chop/dice tomatoes until it is becomes a puree. NOTE: The tomatoes will be hot. Be careful. Also, flattening the tomatoes creates a lot of juice, so be prepared with paper towels.
  • Let tomatoes cool. Once they are room temperature, divide into quart freezer bags. Press the air out and store flat.¼


These tomatoes are closer to crushed tomatoes than stewed, which are typically a bit more chunky. I don’t like chunks in my chili or spaghetti sauce, so I prefer this method. 
If you have regular recipes, such as chili, where you always use a certain amount of tomatoes, you can pre-measure and mark your bags accordingly.

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