Monday, August 27, 2012

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

The summer is slowly fading into fall.  School starts next week.  The mornings have been just a bit cooler and the sun is setting earlier each day.  The apples on my tree are almost ready to pick (and I'm having the hardest time resisting their beautiful pink blush).  Figs are appearing in the markets and on my neighbor's tree.  I've always loved this time of year, a time of transition from the frenzied activity of the summer to the slower pace of the fall.  Just a few short years ago, I would have been readying lesson plans and readying my classroom for 30 new 7th graders.  It's always been a time of anticipation, of excitement, of eagerness to start anew.

No one has informed my garden that summer is ending, however.  It continues to flourish, supplying my family with the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes, watermelons, carrots, and even a fresh new crop of late strawberries!  The slow trickle of a month ago- easily eaten over the course of a day or two- has become a full scale bombardment of tomatoes that my family can't possibly keep up with.  So I've begun to find ways to preserve the best of their summery goodness.  The large Riesentraube cherry tomatoes have become a smoky tomato jam for my Etsy shop, DuTill & Daughters.  The romas are ripening on the counter and will become canned crushed tomatoes ready for any number of winter sauces and stews.  I've even pickled my yellow pear tomatoes- that's a first for me.  And the rest of the cherry tomatoes (one really big colander full), well, there was no doubt in my mind they had a higher calling than simply adorning a salad.
Halved, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper, thyme and garlic cloves- the cherry tomatoes were slow roasted to perfection.  This is probably my favorite way to preserve tomatoes, the sweetness concentrating from the slow caramelization in the oven, the slight bit of herb flavor and the roasted garlic.  What's not to love about that?  I can just smell this fall's braised short ribs and lentil soups, rich and fragrant, with a few of these slow roasted beauties tucked into the sauce, reminding me that summer is not that far away after all.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
For a printable version, click here.

This is not so much a recipe as it is a set of directionsYou can use this to preserve as many or as few tomatoes as you have.  Season the tomatoes to your liking- you can easily switch up the thyme for rosemary, or leave out the herbs altogether.  I filled two sheet trays with halved tomatoes, which amounted to 8 quarter pints packed full.  I chose the smaller jars because I know I can use the small amount quickly and an open jar won't linger in the fridge, preserving the freshness of the rest of the roasted tomatoes.  

Unfortunately, there is no good way to make these tomatoes shelf stable.  I do NOT recommend simply pouring olive oil over them and closing the jar.  Commercial kitchen can do that because they have the means to heat the oil quickly to kill any possible pathogens.  We home cooks don't have that option.  The solution is to pack the tomatoes well into freezer-safe jars or zip top bags and freeze them for later use.  The tomatoes will store safely in the freezer for several months.

To make the slow roasted tomatoes:

1. Halve the cherry tomatoes.  Lay them cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss a few cloves of garlic and sprigs of thyme onto the pan.

2. Roast the tomatoes at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes and how dry you prefer them.  When the tomatoes are done roasting, mash the roasted garlic and give the whole mixture a light toss.  Let the tomatoes cool on the pan.

3. Tightly pack the tomatoes into freezer safe containers.  Freeze until needed, up to 6 months.  Use the tomatoes in salads, pasta sauces, stews and braises in place of tomato paste or in addition to it, over white beans, or to top grilled bread (to name just a few things). 

No comments:

Post a Comment