The Sicilian sentiment is that excess water is the enemy of tomatoes. Large and juicy heirloom tomatoes can be slow-roasted in a low oven to reduce excess liquid, concentrate flavor, and increase acidity. Plus, we can keep the oven at such a low temperature that it doesn’t even heat up the house. As an added bonus, this method couldn’t be easier. There’s no peeling or seeding involved. Even if you don’t can them, they will keep covered in olive oil for several months in your refrigerator, where they will serve as your secret weapon. Chop for an instant pasta sauce; add zip to beans or soups; use as the basis for roasted tomato vinaigrette; pair with fresh mozzarella & a loaf of bread for a perfect picnic. The possibilities are endless, and the flavor is unparalleled. So what are you waiting for?
ROASTED HEIRLOOM TOMATOES If you like you can pack different varieties of tomatoes in alternating layers in your canning jar, or you can separate them by color for more distinctive tastes and hues.
Makes about 3 pint jars 10 pounds heirloom tomatoes 1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled A couple of shallots, halved, but not peeled, optional A handful of thyme sprigs 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 2-3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt Your favorite fresh herbs for tomatoes—basil, marjoram, or oregano A few dried red chile peppers, optional
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper or foil. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
Rinse your tomatoes, and slice them in half across their equator, or into thirds if they are particularly large. Line them on the baking sheet in a single layer, seed side up. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Scatter the garlic cloves, shallots, garlic, and thyme over the tomatoes. Sprinkle each tray of tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt.
Place the tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 6 hours, until much of the tomato juices have evaporated, and the slices have shrunk to about ˝ their original size.
Let the tomatoes cool at room temperature. Then with a spatula transfer the slices to your very clean pint jars (wide mouth canning jars will be easiest to deal with.) Layer fresh basil, or your preferred herb, between the slices of tomato, as well as the cloves of garlic and shallots that you squeeze from their hulls. Leave about 1 inch of head space at the top of each jar.
Choose your Preserving Method
• Short-term: top with a 1 inch thick layer of olive oil and a clean lid, and they will keep in your refrigerator for 3-4 months.
• Long-term: Top the jars off with a thin layer of olive oil, leaving a good inch of head space. Date the jars and place them without lids into the freezer. Because liquid expands as it freezes, it is best to let the jars freeze without lids first to be sure that the jars to not crack. After your tomatoes are frozen, you can top with clean lids, and they will keep for up to one year. Alternately, pack the tomatoes in quart freezer bags, date them, and keep them for up to 1 year in your freezer.
• Long Term Shelf - Pack tomatoes into sterilized jars, leaving about 1 inch of head space. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or red wine vinegar to your tomatoes and top off with extra virgin olive oil, leaving a final 1/2 -inch of head space. The added lemon juice or vinegar increases the acidity of your tomatoes even further to prevent the growth toxins or bacteria. Top with sterilized lids. Line the bottom of a large pot or canning kettle with a folded dishtowel. Place your jars of tomatoes in the kettle on top of the dish towel at least ˝ inch apart. Fill the pot with water until it covers the tops of the jars by at least one inch. Bring the pot of water to a low boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and process the jars for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the jars with a jar lifter and place on a clean towel to cool completely without disturbing. Store on a cool, dry shelf for up to 1 year.
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