roasted tomatoes for the freezer

I know, another post about roasted tomatoes?
I mean, there was that salsa earlier in the week, and I’ve certainly written about roasted tomatoes before, and isn’t everyone writing about roasted tomatoes these days?

But hear me out for a minute–I’ve got a story for you. Because we’re not just talking about roasted tomatoes here (although they are certainly worth talking about over and over). We’re talking about a journey- a perilous and tomato seed filled trek towards the preservation of the tomato.

Two years ago, I set out to answer what seemed to be a simple question. Of all of the foods to be preserved in the late summer, tomatoes might just be one of the most useful and essential. But how? I have taken every suggestion that people have offered. I have canned my tomatoes. I have pureed them raw and frozen them that way. I have made 24 hour perfect sauce and frozen that two. Hell, I froze whole raw tomatoes because someone told me to.

Most of these things have failed. Gross, separated tomato slush. Enough mess to make me want to die in the sea of tomato juice in the kitchen. Bitter filled bags of useless mush.

I think that I’m finally ready to name my favorite tomato preservation method.

You might actually just want to eat them off the tray and have your way with them then and there. But if you can wait, you will thank yourself in a few months. The miracle of all this is that if you roast them with garlic and herbs, it’s sauce in a bag. How’s that for convenience food?

Okay, so I’ve done it. How to preserve tomatoes?

Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line one (or two if you have lots) baking sheets with parchment paper. Don’t skip this or you will curse me as you scrub your baking sheets for hours. Core the tomatoes and cut each in half. Lay them out on the tray, cut side up. Scatter about 8 garlic cloves (peeled and whole) on each tray over the tomatoes. Top with several fresh sprigs of whatever herbs you might have available (oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil will do). A quick snow shower of salt and pepper. A tiny glug glug of olive oil. Roast for three hours. Or a little more or a little less. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Scrape the contents of the entire pan into one or two freezer bags. Label and throw into the freezer.

To make sauce in December, defrost the bag in the refrigerator. Sautee a chopped onion if you like. Throw the contents of the bag into the pot. Cook for a bit and season to taste. If you’re picky about tomato skin, pass the sauce through a food mill. This will be the best sauce you’ve ever had. Unless you’ve already had mind blowing tomato sauce, in which case it will match it.


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12 Responses to roasted tomatoes for the freezer

  1. Pam says:

    I did this last summer and it was fantastic all winter long.

  2. Marya says:

    my mom just gave me a bag of tomatoes. will have to try this.

  3. Frances says:

    I'm stalking this post trying to figure out a way to roast the 25 lbs. of tomatoes I picked today in less than, oh, I don't know, TWELVE HOURS. Not looking good. But this recipe, and those pictures…wow. I can't say I'm not tempted.

  4. alanachernila says:

    Frances- you'd be surprised how many tomatoes you can fit on a sheet. But you're probably right… you might be at it all night! (not like you need the extra heat tonight, either).

  5. Lara says:

    Lovely. I made my way to your blog from Well Fed, Flat Broke. I just put some tomatoes in the freezer today. The next harvest (I grow San Marzanos, perfect for sauce) will being roasted, per your instructions. Thanks!

  6. junquejules says:

    Just the recipe I was looking for!

  7. Kathy H. says:

    Have you ever tried to can these after roasting? My freezer space is at a premium since we have a cow and hog butchered each year. I put my first batch of tomatoes up in the freezer (and can’t wait to have them as a sauce) but I know I won’t have room for all of them this season.

    • alana says:

      Hi Kathy,
      Nope- these aren’t safe for canning because of the olive oil and the lack of an acid addition to the mix. Best to stick to safe tomato canning methods for those you can’t fit in the freezer. I have a basic recipe for canned tomatoes in my book, but most are pretty standard and involve the addition of a bit of acid.

  8. Arla says:

    I’ve dried slices and plum tomato halves. Let soak the night before and blend and season for a super sauce. Use them up before the end of winter.

  9. Patti says:

    Hi! I love your book the Homemade Pantry and today I made the roasted tomatoes from the freezer recipe from the book which says to roast the tomatoes for 5 hours. I did and they are delicious, but are more like sundried tomatoes. Your blog post says three hours and this makes much more sense. These are so good, I will definitely buy another box of tomatoes and give it another try.

    • alana says:

      Hi Patti- So glad you’re enjoying the book! On those roasted tomatoes… tomatoes vary so much in juiciness. I find that sometimes I can roast big juicy heirlooms for 5 hours and they still could benefit from more time, whereas a paste tomato might be more like a sun dried tomato at that point. So definitely keep an eye on your tomatoes, and vary your time depending on how juicy they are when you cut into them. Good luck, and happy tomato-ing!

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