Roasting Tomatoes Preserves Gardening Flavor

Looking for an easy way to preserve your fall tomato harvest? Slow-roasting tomatoes lets your oven do all the work.

tomatoes-in-colander-blogThis season’s great tomato harvest is on. Eat them up now, but be sure to save some for cold winter days.

One of the best ways to preserve the garden-fresh flavor of tomatoes is by slow-roasting them. Slow roasting brings the natural sugars of the tomato to the surface and produces such a deep, intense flavor there’s no comparison to the canned kind.

Besides making quick work of a chore I used to dread, fewer tomatoes are wasted because they don’t have to be blemish-free to be roasted. I simply cut away any soft or bad spots and put them in the roasting pan.

Any variety of tomato can be roasted and varieties can be mixed in the roasting pan. Try combinations of heirloom tomatoes, like Paul Robeson, and other varieties for an exceptionally flavorful blend.

Because I’m basically a lazy cook, I don’t peel my tomatoes before roasting. However, you can take the extra step of cutting an X on the bottom of the tomato and scalding in boiling water for 30-45 seconds. Remove from the pot and let tomatoes cool before peeling skins from the bottom.

Roasted tomatoes freeze well and are delicious in all kinds of tomato-based recipes—from pasta and pizza sauces to soups, stews and chilis. I love opening the freezer and seeing all those packages of roasted tomatoes because they remind me that summer’s flavor is always within reach.

Here’s what you need to get started:

Several pounds of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (optional)
Plus any other goodies from the garden you’d care to use. Create different flavor combinations by adding peeled whole garlic cloves, peppers or fresh herbs, like basil or rosemary.

Slow-roasting instructions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
Rinse tomatoes well and dry.
Remove the stem and core.
Cut tomatoes into equal-size quarters; eighths for large tomatoes.
Place in a single layer in a roasting pan.
Drizzle with 1 or 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
Add optional ingredients and herbs.
Place in preheated oven and roast slowly for 5-6 hours, roasting time will vary depending on tomato size.
Remove from oven when tomatoes have lightly crisped edges.
Let cool before storing in refrigerator containers or quart-size freezer bags. (Refrigerated tomatoes will stay fresh for several days; frozen for 6-9 months—if they last that long!)

One of my favorite ways to eat roasted tomatoes is right after they’ve cooled slightly. Slather a spoonful on a slice of thick crusty bread and enjoy.

Here’s a quick way to turn a bag of slow-roasted tomatoes into a delicious pizza sauce. Be sure to let frozen tomatoes come to room temperature before using.

Easy Pizza Sauce

1 quart slow roasted tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop garlic in a food processor until minced.
Add tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and pulse/chop to combine.
Let machine run and slowly add olive oil until blended.

Sauce will be thick and fairly chunky. Add more olive oil for a thinner consistency. Spread evenly over a prepared or homemade pizza crust. Layer with your choice of toppings, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake according to package instructions.


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This sounds terrific – I can’t wait to gather my tomatoes and start the oven!! Thank you !

This is just the sort of recipe I was looking for and it was the first one I clicked on. Will be trying my hand at it tomorrow (a scheduled day off to accomplish things I just can’t seem to get to) Thank you so much for this recipe idea.Laurie

Hi Laurie:

Thanks for your note–I’m so glad you found the recipe you were looking for. This is my all-time favorite way to preserve tomatoes. It’s easy to do and the results are so flavorful. I just may take a bag out of the freezer to create something special for dinner tonight!

Just got back from a long trip and have tomatoes galore in my garden. Excited to find your preserving tip! Didn’t want to go to the hassle of jarring them. This sounds delicious! Getting started right now. Thank you.

Hi Andrea:

I’m glad you found my favorite way to preserve tomatoes–this is such a simple method, but it gives the tomatoes such a fabulous taste!

Thanks for dropping by,

TY! Just what I’m looking for! Making some tomorrow.

Hi Mary:

I’m glad you found what you were looking for–the roasted tomato recipe is the second most popular recipe on my site. The first is for easy pickled jalapenos.

Thanks for stopping by,

My friend Annie (a gread Italian cook) told me about this process of preserving tomatoes – I am working on them today – I have picked my big soup kettle full of ripe beauties and am going to roast them – I picked them from my raised garden beds – I am a lazy gardener – the raised beds are so easy to keep clean from weeds – very few grow in them and if they do so easy to get rid of – my raised beds yield so much good produce that I am able to share with family – thanks for this process – we will have tomatoes this winter now

Hi Carolyn:

I’m glad to hear you’ve got a good tomato crop growing this year. Thanks for sharing how your raised beds make gardening a bit easier!


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