Tomatoes. Since I try to keep my tomatoes on the counter (oh yes, woe betide ye who put them in the fridge), I have to be sure to use them quickly. Sometimes this is a challenge, such as when I recently succumbed to peak tomato season and acquired, um, 20lbs of them.
It’s a good thing that this method that I’m going to tell you about does the trick, and is easy to boot. (How can you not love a method from a blog post entitled The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Preserving Tomatoes, after all?)
You might be surprised, given my predilection for making jam (and more jam, and ever more jam), that I’m not canning these tomatoes. Truth be told, I’m still a bit nervous about it–and even if I weren’t it’s not a project I want to tackle on a weeknight–which is when we picked these tomatoes up as an “extra” on our CSA.
And laziness aside, roasting just sounds like a delicious way to enjoy these tomatoes: a few charred spots, sweetness intensified in the oven, melting texture. They’d make anything they touch taste good.
And lest I feel bad about being a Lazy Girl (which I don’t), it seems that there’s no clear answer on how to safely process roasted tomatoes (see Doris and Jilly’s discussion here, which in addition to a safety discussion includes other methods for roasting if you’re curious). These are the seemingly minor twists and turns that get me nervous about canning tomatoes–I never would have guessed that this would matter–and it’s all the more reason for me to feel perfectly happy about stashing all mine in the freezer. And even though freezer space is limited, roasted tomatoes really compact down and easy to find space for. Of course, the flip side of this is that I only got about 9 jars from 20 pounds of toms. The upshot, then, is that unless your tomatoes are coming from your garden, this probably won’t save you money over buying canned tomatoes in the store. My great price of $1.50 a pound on local organic tomatoes, then, wasn’t quite so grand. Nevertheless, I’m happy to support my CSA and I know I will enjoy using these bit by bit in the coming months. And maybe I’ll work up the nerve (and the energy) to try canned tomatoes next year. In the meantime, I see no shame in having taken the easy way out.
- Tomatoes (any quantity)
- Olive oil
- basil and/or oregano (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line jelly roll pans (or any pans with sides) with parchment paper or foil. (See note). Make sure whatever you use lines the sides as well so that the juices are caught and don’t scorch.
- Trim your tomatoes: remove any blemishes or bruises from the tomatoes, and then cut them in half.
- Set up a colander over a bowl. Gently squeeze your tomato halves over the colander so the seeds fall inside and the juice is reserved in the bowl underneath.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and set on the lined baking sheets.
- Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil, kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and freshly minced or dried oregano or basil onto your tomatoes.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes (or until the tomatoes are cooked through, being careful not to burn them). Check every so often–hot spots in your oven may cause some tomatoes to burn while the majority have not finished cooking.
- In the meantime, place the reserved juice from the bowl into a pot and slowly boil with some salt and pepper for about five minutes.
- Remove the pans from the oven and scrape the tomatoes into a small pile using a wooden spatula and then spoon them into a large bowl. Stir in the cooked tomato juice.
- Let cool until room temperature and then ladle into either freezer-safe canning jars or quart-sized freezer bags that have been labeled with the date and contents.
I’d guess that you shouldn’t roast more than 10lb of tomatoes at a go–if you roast more, all the steam that will spew out of your oven will set off your fire alarm and cause your husband, upon returning home late from work, to ask why the whole kitchen smells. In theory, of course (I certainly don’t know from personal experience or anything like that, ahem…)
I used aluminum foil but next time I’ll try parchment as I’ve had good luck with that for similar purposes in the past and the size I buy makes it easier to line pans with. Make sure whatever you use lines the sides as well so that the juices are caught and don’t scorch–I learned that the hard way by being too stingy with my use of foil.