Can You Freeze Dry Canned Tomatoes? A Comprehensive Guide

Classically, tomatoes grow great in a wide range of climates, are easily grown at home, and are usually inexpensive at the grocery store. Canning is a great way to preserve tomatoes, but we’re going to explore a way to extend the shelf life even further.

Canned tomatoes cannot be freeze dried very effectively. Canned tomatoes contain a large amount of moisture and they’ve been fully cooked prior to canning. Trying to freeze dry canned tomatoes will leave you with a mess.

Types of Tomatoes Suitable for Freeze Drying

Not all types of tomatoes are created equal and some varieties of tomatoes are better suited for freeze drying than others. Overall, any type of tomato can be freeze dried, but these 4 varieties are the most suitable for the process. The key is to choose tomatoes that have a high water content and a thin skin. These 4 will be easier to dry and will retain their flavor and texture:

1. Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are small, round tomatoes that are perfect for freeze drying. They are juicy and sweet, and they have a thin skin that makes them easy to dry. Cherry tomatoes are also great for snacking, and can be used in a variety of recipes.

2. Paste Tomatoes

Paste tomatoes are meaty and have less water content than other types of tomatoes. They are perfect for making tomato paste, sauce, and puree. When freeze dried, paste tomatoes retain their flavor and texture, which makes them great for use in soups, stews, and other dishes.

3. Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are large and juicy, and have a sweet, tangy flavor. They are great for slicing and using in sandwiches and salads. Beefsteak tomatoes are another variety that retain their flavor and texture quite after freeze drying.

4. Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are oblong and have a meaty texture. They are perfect for making tomato sauce, and they are also great for use in salads and sandwiches. Roma tomatoes also retain their flavor and texture quite well.

Preparing Tomatoes for Freeze Drying

While canned tomatoes shouldn’t be freeze dried, ripe tomatoes are on the other hand perfect for freeze-drying, but they need to be prepared correctly to ensure the best results. One recommended, but not required, step is blanching.

To blanch the tomatoes, you’ll boil them in water for a short period of time, then immediately transfer them to ice water to stop the cooking process.

Fresh, ripe tomatoes

After blanching, remove the skins from the tomatoes. The skin should easily peel off when blanched. Then, cut the tomatoes into slices or chunks, depending on your preference. Slices seem to be a better option for chewing and carrying around for a snack.

If you don’t want to blanch the tomatoes, chunking or slicing them and placing them directly in the freeze dryer can work too but freshness may not be preserved as long. There’s not really a strong recommendation one way or another as far as the science is concerned. I prefer to save the time and energy and just put the tomatoes straight into the freeze dryer without blanching.

Sliced Tomatoes on a freeze drying tray

If you’re wondering, blanching stops enzymatic reactions in vegetables prior to freezing and helps to main flavor, color, and texture over time. It’s actually worse to under-blanch than to not blanche at all because under-blanching will actually speed up the enzymatic reactions.

One thing of note: If you don’t remove the skin from the tomatoes (easier if you blanch) then you need to cut your tomatoes in half at a minimum. If you don’t cut them and leave the skin on (so the tomato is fully intact), then they will explode and make a mess during the freeze drying process.

Storing Freeze Dried Tomatoes

Once you’ve freeze dried your tomatoes, you have a few options for storage.

1. Freezer

If you have extra freezer space, storing freeze-dried tomatoes in freezer containers is a cheap option. This will help to keep the tomatoes fresh for a longer period of time. Make sure to label the containers with the date and content for easy identification.

2. Mylar Bags

As the undisputed champ of freeze-dried-food storage, Mylar bags don’t even have a close second. While they can be more expensive than something truly reusable, there are a few things about them to keep in mind:

  1. Use Oxygen Absorbers
    • Oxygen absorbers will mop up any extra oxygen in the package and allow for max shelf life. It’s worth the added cost. A good rule of thumb is to use about 500cc for a 1 gallon Mylar Bag.
    • As of the time of writing, this package of 500cc absorbers was about $0.15/absorber. Well worth the cost in my opinion. Some packs of Mylar bags come with Absorbers too.
  2. Buy Reusable Mylar Bags
    • You can buy single use (not really single use) and reusable Mylar bags. I prefer reusable bags like these but the single use bags can be re-sealed too. For context, when I say reusable bags, I just mean I like to use the bags with the little Ziplock on them. I would still recommend that you heat seal the Ziplock type bags for long term storage.
  3. Think About Size
    • Don’t go too big or too small. The combo pack I recommended above will give you options. You’ll want to think about what you’re sealing, how much you’ll reasonable eat once you unseal the bag, and the volume of the bag. More air in the bag means more air that needs absorbed once it’s sealed.
  4. Don’t Buy Windowed Bags For Long Term Storage
    • Windowed bags (bags with a clear side) are fun to show off what’s inside and will be great if you’re planning to sell your freeze dried tomatoes, but if you don’t store the bags somewhere dark then the light will break down the tomatoes over time and the shelf life can be greatly reduced.
  5. No Plastic or Glass
    • We love Mylar bags because there’s no plastic whatsoever (we hate plastic that touches our food and avoid it as much as we can, even if it’s BPA free). It’s also nice to avoid glass for long term storage because glass is heavy and breaks easy. Neither is the case with a Mylar bag.

3. Pantry

If you don’t have extra freezer space and don’t want to use Mylar bags, storing freeze-dried tomatoes in your pantry is an option. Make sure to store them in an airtight container and keep them away from direct sunlight and moisture. You won’t get a long storage time out this way but we usually throw part of a batch into a tightly sealed Rubbermaid Brilliance container for eating within a short period of time.

Reconstituting Freeze Dried Tomatoes

To rehydrate freeze-dried tomatoes, just add water like any other freeze dried vegetable. Warm water is absorbed quicker and more even. The amount of water you use will depend on the amount of tomatoes you are rehydrating and how you plan to use them.

A general rule of thumb is to use about 1 1/2 cups of warm water for every cup of freeze-dried tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour the warm water over them. Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are fully rehydrated. Once the tomatoes are fully rehydrated, drain any excess water and pat them dry with a paper towel.

You don’t need to rehydrate the tomatoes directly. You can add them to any recipe that calls for them (be sure to add water if the recipe seems dry) or just eat them dry since they make for a great snack!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Freeze Drying Tomatoes

Why bother freeze-drying tomatoes? Here’s a few pros and cons.


  • Long shelf life: Freeze dried tomatoes can last up to 25 years without losing their flavor or nutrients.
  • Flavor Retention: Freeze drying preserves the flavor of the tomatoes better than other preservation methods. Nutrients are retained along with flavor.
  • No freezer burn: Freeze drying tomatoes eliminates the risk of freezer burn, unless, of course, you end up storing them in the freezer.


  • Expensive equipment: Let’s face it, a freeze dryer is expensive. If you only plan to freeze dry tomatoes, maybe keep canning them. But if you have a freeze dryer then it’s the best option.
  • Time-consuming process: Freeze drying takes a long time and the batch size is limited, but tomatoes freeze dry quickly compared to some other foods like blueberries for example.
  • Limited quantity: Freeze-drying can only be done in small batches.


There are a lot of ways to preserve your tomatoes, but as always, freeze drying comes out on top for longevity and flavor and texture preservation. You could consider a long list of other preservation options such as the following:

  • Freezing
  • Dehydrating
  • Canning
  • Picking
  • Roasting
  • Making sauce or salsa and canning

All of these options require a lot of work and end up in a product with a shelf life that’s a fraction of their freeze dried counterpart. In most cases, that’s ok. I for one don’t enjoy freezer burned vegetables and we don’t often use tomato sauce or eat salsa. We love freeze drying so for us, we’ll stick with it for our tomato crops. For others, there might be a better way. Just keep that in mind when you plant your tomatoes!

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