I know, another post about roasted tomatoes?
I mean, there was that salsa earlier in the week, and I’ve certainly written about roasted tomatoes before, and isn’t everyone writing about roasted tomatoes these days?
But hear me out for a minute–I’ve got a story for you. Because we’re not just talking about roasted tomatoes here (although they are certainly worth talking about over and over). We’re talking about a journey- a perilous and tomato seed filled trek towards the preservation of the tomato.
Two years ago, I set out to answer what seemed to be a simple question. Of all of the foods to be preserved in the late summer, tomatoes might just be one of the most useful and essential. But how? I have taken every suggestion that people have offered. I have canned my tomatoes. I have pureed them raw and frozen them that way. I have made 24 hour perfect sauce and frozen that two. Hell, I froze whole raw tomatoes because someone told me to.
Most of these things have failed. Gross, separated tomato slush. Enough mess to make me want to die in the sea of tomato juice in the kitchen. Bitter filled bags of useless mush.
I think that I’m finally ready to name my favorite tomato preservation method.
You might actually just want to eat them off the tray and have your way with them then and there. But if you can wait, you will thank yourself in a few months. The miracle of all this is that if you roast them with garlic and herbs, it’s sauce in a bag. How’s that for convenience food?
Okay, so I’ve done it. How to preserve tomatoes?
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line one (or two if you have lots) baking sheets with parchment paper. Don’t skip this or you will curse me as you scrub your baking sheets for hours. Core the tomatoes and cut each in half. Lay them out on the tray, cut side up. Scatter about 8 garlic cloves (peeled and whole) on each tray over the tomatoes. Top with several fresh sprigs of whatever herbs you might have available (oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil will do). A quick snow shower of salt and pepper. A tiny glug glug of olive oil. Roast for three hours. Or a little more or a little less. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Scrape the contents of the entire pan into one or two freezer bags. Label and throw into the freezer.
To make sauce in December, defrost the bag in the refrigerator. Sautee a chopped onion if you like. Throw the contents of the bag into the pot. Cook for a bit and season to taste. If you’re picky about tomato skin, pass the sauce through a food mill. This will be the best sauce you’ve ever had. Unless you’ve already had mind blowing tomato sauce, in which case it will match it.