Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes!

The tomatoes just won't stop this year! In past years I have had to bring in the entire vines and hang them up in the garage to try to get them to all ripen, or loose them all to late blight like I did last year; but this year they are ripening enough outside that I can pick them when orange and they ripen fully within a few days on the counter. I'm picking them a little before ripe Since it has been raining a lot, I  want to reduce the chance of the ripening fruit cracking and splitting.

Pints of crushed tomatoes
Although I have a lot of tomato preserving yet to do, I'm keeping up. One trick I've mastered over the years is to use multiple preserving techniques; if all I did with the tomatoes was can them, I'd be way past burned out by now! This year I have canned over 30 pints of crushed tomatoes, dried several bags worth in the dehydrator, and frozen many containers of oven roasted tomatoes.

Oven Roasting tomatoes is very easy, and it concentrates the tomato flavor, making them seem somehow more tomatoey when pulled from the deep freeze in winter.

Oven Roasted Tomato Recipe/Technique

Tomatoes, washed, trimmed of any bad parts, and cut into halves or quarters depending on size.
Olive oil
Kosher Salt

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, arrange tomatoes skin-side down on sheet. Sprinkle with a small amount of Kosher salt (as the water from the tomatoes evaporates in the oven the salt will concentrate, so go easy on it), and drizzle with more olive oil.

Place in a 300 degree oven for a few hours, until the tomatoes have shrunk and have a few brown/caramelized spots. Let cool and store in freezer containers.

We use the roasted tomatoes for quick sauces, or toppings for fish. On busy nights I make a meal out of polenta (made in big batches and frozen), kale (blanched and frozen) sauteed with garlic, and the roasted tomatoes; all I need to do is to remember to pull them out of the freezer in time to defrost.
Roasted tomatoes, almost done, they need about another half hour in the oven.

1 comment:

Katharine said...

My side of the family was never into canning, and I'm doing my part to carry on that anti-tradition. But... I love the idea of freezing oven-roasted tomatoes! That sounds delicious, so I may have to go out and find some good toms and try this.