Intensely Delicious Roast Tomatoes, for now and for winter.

Autumn Beauty Sunflower

people waiting for something besides food, please be patient. I’ll be with you in a minute, but right now

It’s Tomato Time!

although only because we have two gardens. The plants in Maine are pathetic – it was just too cold, too dry for too long when they were young. But the tomatoes in New York. Omigosh.

tying tomato plants to supports

Bill ( 5’ 9 or so)  in the tomato patch. Note the naked bases, disease-prevention at work.

heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella, with lettuce leaf basil

heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella, with lettuce leaf basil

The summer classic, with Pruden’s Purple (red), Malakhitovaya Shkatulla   (green), and Hillbilly Potato Leaf (yellow with red streaks)

They’re all different sizes, as usual, but a larger number than usual are larger than usual

Big Brandywine

Big Brandywine

This turned out to be a picture of a scale, but what I wanted to show you was that the Brandywine on it weighed 2.5 pounds.

I regarded this as a significant achievement – until reports started coming in from various neighbors. Everybody’s tomatoes are ginormous. Al described her biggest Mortgage Lifter by holding her hands a basketball apart.

The problem with these great big juicy monsters is that they’re not easy to preserve. A tomato you basically have to drink is a delight when it’s raw, but all that juice makes it taste insipid when canned – and let us not speak of the number of jars.

That’s why the only tomatoes I can are

Intensely Delicious Roast Tomatoes

which of course are extremely spiffy just as they are, should you not have a bumper crop you have to save for later. A pint jar isn’t itty bitty, but with this recipe you do get almost 8 great tomatoes into it. Okay, 5 or 6, but still…

all you need is:

parchment paper

ripe tomatoes

olive oil

salt

Heat the oven to 400. Line a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with paper. Cut the tomatoes into largish chunks and arrange them close but not crowded, skin side down - insofar as there is a skin side, giant tomatoes make a lot of chunks.

tomatoes prepared for roasting and in jars

There is no law that says you have to use red ones but be warned that other colors come out looking a bit strange. The red ones come out pretty enough to use as gifts

Drizzle a small amount of oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Roast, turning the pan from time to time, until there is almost no free liquid and both paper and tomatoes are showing signs of caramelization, anywhere from 1 to almost 2 hours depending on original juiciness. If they look like they’ll burn before they cook down, just reduce the heat.

That’s it if you’re eating them fresh, with grilled lamb, maybe, or as part of a tapas assortment or in place of the mayonnaise in some tunafish salad that also contains diced sweet onion, roughly chopped oil cured black olives and a few capers.

To can them: Pretty much the usual for boiling water canning; there’s no need to pressure-can. Heat the jars while the tomatoes are roasting. Pack them hot, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. I process pints for half an hour, which is less than the USDA would advise but they tend to go overboard toward safety (at least as long as it’s a matter of telling you what to do).

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12 Comments »

  • Margaret Said,

    Convincing me didn’t take much: will try w/the next batch of tomatoes. Thanks for sharing this, right at the time I needed it.

  • leslie Said,

    Hi Margaret –

    glad to hear your tomatoes are coming on strong. Enjoy!

  • Sandy Said,

    Aha! That is almost too easy. I think I will freeze mine, though, because I can flatten the package and put more away–I am beginning to run out of jars and shelf space for same. Thanks for the advice.

  • leslie Said,

    Hi Sandy

    Good luck with freezing the roast tomatoes. It’s certainly quicker and more space conserving – just not QUITE as delicious because there’s still enough moisture in the fruit to make it weep when it thaws. Easy enough to just cook it down then, of course…

  • Judy Said,

    The roasted tomatoes looks wonderful…I have a canning question.
    Is there any liquid in the jars with the tomatoes? How do you pack them the tomatoes? Do you add any lemon juice, citric acid etc? I’m so eager to follow your lead, thanks for your help.
    Judy

  • leslie Said,

    Judy -

    It sounds as though you’re an experienced canner…

    The only liquid is what’s left in the roasting pan at packing time. Depending on original juiciness, roasting time/temp etc. there’s sometimes a few tablespoons of oil/concentrated juice, which should be distributed among the jars. Whether there is or isn’t any extra, do push down the top tomatoes in each jar so there’s a thin film of liquid over them – even if they look quite dry there will be enough residual juice so the pushing-down squeezes some out.

    I pack the tomatoes with the usual equipment: jars and lids, a canning funnel, a stainless steel spoon for transferring the tomatoes and a stainless steel bladed knife to run around the insides of the jars to make sure there are no air bubbles.

    The tomatoes I use have enough acid to make a good balanced flavor, and I’ve always relied on that ( plus the salt sprinkled at the start) to keep the product safe. Modern tomto-canning instructions usually include extra acid, just to err on the safe side, but of course that’s no favor to the flavor and I don’t do it.

    hope this helps. Happy canning! Having these tomatoes in the winter is such a happy thing.

  • Judy Said,

    Thanks Leslie…there in the oven now. We’ll think of you on a cold wintry eve!

  • Leigh Williams Said,

    I just collected the seeds from four different kinds of heirlooms, including that green one and another that’s kind of red w/ brownish-maroon stripes that has the prettiest, most fragrant dense meat inside I’ve ever seen. The other two were a brighter red, and an orange one that looked for all the world like a persimmon.

    This is a superb idea I’m saving until I grow those varieties next year. I made a good crop of something-or-the-other (maybe Celebrity?) this year, but I prefer the heirlooms. I did them year-before-last, and the only problem was that every single seed made a nice little strong plant, and I had to give them away to half the family to thin the herd.

  • leslie Said,

    Hi Leigh

    Onward with heirlooms! In theory, modern hybrids can taste just as good – Juliette is an example in practice. But a lot of them disappoint, including Celebrity (at least in my experience). Tried it twice. Both times I got large crops of bright red perfectly round almost identical billiard ball tomatoes that tasted better than the industrial kind but not by very much.

  • Surati Said,

    Thanks for your Roasted Tomatoes recipe. They are in the oven as we speak. Thanks especially for addressing the issue of canning and liquid requirements, as I plan to can them. I’m so excited to have this recipe.

    I’m using a sauce tomato by the name Polish Linguisa, it is long and fat, and I like the acid taste, not too sweet. I canned 19 pints of Marinara Sauce with this tomato. i just heard about this Polish tomato, have any interesting info regarding plum tomatoes ?

    • Leslie Said,

      Hi Surati,

      Glad you like the recipe and I’m very jealous of all those tomatoes! Not many for us this year.

      Plum tomatoes are a bit hard to pin down as a category, but they are usually best for processing, with a high proportion of flesh to seeds
      and their surrounding gel. This means they cook down more quickly but are less wonderful for fresh use than tomatoes that have more juice (and, generally, richer flavor). In my experience – which yours confirms – they are less sweet than slicing tomatoes. This can be corrected with a pinch of sugar if desired; but don’t add the sugar until they have finished roasting or they will brown/blacken before they’re cooked enough.

  • Nicole Said,

    I’ll give this a try next time I come into a bunch of tomatoes (hopefully from my Dad’s garden this weekend)! I bet they’re fantastic!

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