Garden Diary - September 2012

mid September 2012
Putting Food By - Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I do it every September. Go to Trauger's Farm Market over the river in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania and get a bushel of plum tomatoes to prep for the freezer. Over time I've gotten somewhat wiser about this, and buy the tomatoes a half bushel at a time. That's two days processing. (A bushel is 40 to 44 pounds, depending on the produce.) There are all sorts of options for processing tomatoes for long term winter storage. You could make juice, sauce, diced, whatever, then either can or freeze. Canning does have the advantage that power outages will not become a matter of concern. Freezing eliminates the glass jars and boiling water bath. I do something different. First, the tomatoes are oven roasted to intensify their flavor, after which they are frozen.

Rinse the tomatoes. Trim off the stem end and cut away any whitish core. Place the tomatoes
cut side up on a shallow rimmed pan. Pack them together as closely as can be managed.

I flavor the tomatoes with fresh thyme, some dried oregano, a little freshly ground black pepper.
Next, a spritz of balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of olive oil. It really enriches their flavor.

Then the trays go into a 225 Fahrenheit oven for a few hours. If you have a convection oven, it takes
about 3 hours. If not, 4 hours or longer. I can fit 4 trays into my 36 inch range, on 2 different racks.
Halfway through reverse the racks from shelf to shelf, and turn them 180 degrees to even things out.

Just see how the tomato halves have shrunk. Take the trays out of the oven and let them cool a bit.
Once close to room temperature you can wedge these delicious tidbits into plastic containers, then
label and pop into the freezer. These oven roasted bits of summer are flavorsome additions to soups
such as a minnestrone, with white beans, added to a braise or stew. An easy way to put food by.

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