Food Preservation Methods for an Abundant Tomato Harvest
Popular Methods Beyond Canning Tomatoes
As an herbalist, I’m always thinking of ways to use the abundance of herbs this time of year. Couple that with a huge tomato harvest and it’s a no-brainer. There are some great food preservation methods that are easy and capture tomatoes’ nutrition and flavor.
Tomatoes are good for our immune system and our eyes, and can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Plus the lycopene in tomatoes can help keep mens’ prostates healthy. Yellow and orange tomatoes have just as much nutrition as their red counterparts.
One of the popular food preservation methods for tomatoes is roasting, either with high, or low, heat. I have to say my time determines whether I slow roast or high roast. I like both methods.
If you roast tomatoes on high heat, they will roast fairly quickly and still be soft and a bit juicy in the middle with skins easily slipped off.
Slow roasting gives a chewy texture with intense flavor. Skins don’t slip off as easily.
Either way, if you’re growing tomatoes outdoors or indoors, add some herbs that are begging to be picked, like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives. Remember, herbs not only add a haunting layer of flavor, but nutrition too.
HIGH ROASTED PLUM/ITALIAN OR REGULAR TOMATOES
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
To roast tomato halves: Lay cut side up or down. If you lay them cut side up, they will keep more of their juice; cut side down gives you a nice toasted skin but some of the juice evaporates as you roast.
Use a baking pan with sides and spray the pan. Lay tomatoes in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on herbs, finely chopped. Add salt and pepper. Roast until skins start to look spotty if you are roasting skin side up, about 30 minutes or so. If roasting skin side down, roast for about 40 minutes. Roasting time depends upon size and variety. Let common sense be your guide. When they look wrinkly and spotty brown, they should be done. Let cool and if you like, remove skins.
If you want to leave skins on the tomato halves, put tomatoes in the blender or food processor after roasting. The reason is the skins are rather tough. You will wind up with more of a puree but the bonus is you get the nutritious benefits of the skin.
To roast tomato slices: I like to cut these fairly thick. Follow method above, but roasting time will be shorter, about 20 minutes or so. No need to remove skins.
Refrigerate halves and slices up to a week or freeze up to 6 months.
HIGH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES WITH HERBS AND GARLIC
Once you know how to care for tomato plants, you’re sure to have an abundance and this is a nice recipe since everything is mixed in a bowl and then just poured onto a sprayed pan with sides. This is delicious as a side dish, and if you want to freeze them, you can either leave the skins on (they may be a bit tough) or puree them as directed above. Now you can also roast these plain, with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper and oil.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
For every pint or so of cherry or grape tomatoes, add a teaspoon of minced garlic, and enough olive oil to coat nicely. Also salt and pepper to taste. Just mix this up in a bowl. If you have any herbs, again like basil, thyme or rosemary, chop up fine and add to taste. Pour onto a sprayed rimmed baking pan and roast until skins look spotty and a bit puffy, about 20 minutes.
SLOW ROASTED PLUM/ITALIAN OR REGULAR TOMATOES
Some folks say slow roasting tomatoes brings out more flavor. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
To slow roast tomato halves: Cut in half and arrange halves, cut side up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, coating the tomatoes well. Then top with salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like. Be sure and chop the herbs up fine. You can drizzle with some balsamic vinegar if you like, as well. The crowning glory can be very thinly sliced garlic or minced garlic sprinkled over all. Doesn’t that sound beyond good?
Roast until tomatoes turn a very dark red, almost brown. They’ll lose some height, as well. Depending upon the size and juiciness, count on anywhere from 2-4 hours.
Now that you’ve roasted all that good deliciousness, I bet you want to know how to use them.
There are so many ways! Why not learn making tomato sauce from scratch or putting your harvest into pasta salads. Layer them in a tomato tart with mozzarella and basil. Serve on a big platter smeared with a bit of pesto. Add them to your antipasto. Mix with goat cheese spread on toasted baguettes. Stir them into vegetable soups and stews. Or, just eat them out of hand like I do!
Don’t forget, you can always freeze tomatoes too!
What food preservation methods do you recommend for an abundant tomato harvest?