I haven’t been a fan of tomatoes for a long time. Too many of them give me a rash and any that I get at the grocery store taste more like I imagine baseballs to taste, rather than the juicy, sweet and tangy bursts of sunshine I remember from my youth. For the last few years I’ve only eaten the tomatoes that I’ve been able to get from the farm and so that restricts my tomato consumption to this time of year. My only issue is that every time I go to my favourite U-Pick place I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the veggies and am always guilty of overindulging. Though it’s usually been with beans or squash or some other fresh produce, this time it was with tomatoes. I brought home about 10 lbs and wasn’t sure what to do with them and they sat on my counter for over a week. Though they were getting tastier and tastier by the day it was becoming clear that I was not going to be able to keep up. It was time to start planning for what wouldn’t be eaten.
I scoured the internet for a recipe that looked good. I’m not a fan of tomato sauce and consequently don’t eat enough of it. Scratch that! I love tomato soup but made it with cherry tomatoes in the past and so I was sure that this wouldn’t even come close, scratch that! Then it occurred to me, slow roasted tomatoes. I’d been reading recipes for days but wasn’t convinced since the one time I purchased sundried tomatoes I found them to be tasteless. Surely slow roasting them at home would be better.
The recipe is simple, slice tomatoes in half, put them skin side down on a baking sheet bushed with olive oil, salt and pepper them (careful not too much here) and pour, yes pour, don’t just drizzle olive oil all over them. The more oil you use the better they cook and then you can fill the jar with what’s left instead of using fresh oil. The fresh oil will taste oily but the roasted olive oil won’t. Trust me.
The jury is still out on how long to do this for, some recipes say 350 degrees for 3 or so hours and some say 250 for 6 hours. I’ve done both and other than having to watch pretty carefully to keep them from burning they both seem to come out the same. Again, beware that if you’re trying to rush at a hotter temp they burn much more quickly. I found that at 350 it was clear that my oven had some hot spots and I had to eat the partially burned ones, that really sucked 😉 … but when I made them over the 6 hours they didn’t burn at all.
I packed mine with layers of fresh basil and put garlic cloves in the jars and then gave them a hot bath to seal the jars. Because they are packed in oil they will keep in the fridge for a month or so, if they don’t get eaten sooner…
I went out and got another 40 lbs of tomatoes to do up more of these, it seemed that I would get about 3 500ml jars for 2 full pans of tomatoes. Gauging by how much I and others in the house enjoyed them I knew that those jars wouldn’t last long. Besides, I might give them away at Christmas.
Lastly, if you are storing them in the fridge, warm them up a bit before you eat them. They have way more flavour that way… much better than cold, plus the oil will not be thick from the cold fridge either.
These are a million times better than anything store bought and really other than time, they are simple to make.