Looking at this picture of our fresh tomatoes almost hurts at this time of year.
It is February, and outside the wind is whipping the trees mercilessly. The second thaw of the winter has reduced the snow pack, but it’s going to be a long time until these beauties are on my plate again.
I’m doing what I can to set the stage for their return.
Almost with mouth watering, I’m planning this year’s tomato selections. The seed catalogues are arrayed around me on the desk as I create my short list.
Deciding for or against a variety is based on several observations over the season. Then, the task every autumn is to review how each tomato variety performed overall. This is crucial, because right now, there needs to be a balance between the dreams espoused by those glossy seed catalogues and reality.
Back to my plate, today.
There is a little good news stored in the freezer. While the tomato production this autumn was outpacing market sales and our own consumption, I took the time to put up some of the goodness for a time such as this.
These take time to make, but don’t need to be tended constantly. The recipe is pretty loose; once you make a batch, you’ll get the hang of it.
Start by slicing your tomatoes and placing them on a parchment-lined baking tray, sliced side up.
Now you have a choice to make. Do you want simple roasted tomatoes or do you want to fancy them up?
For simple, delicious goodness, simply drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil. For fancier fare, drizzle the tomatoes not only with olive oil, but also with balsamic vinegar. Pinches of salt and pepper, or thinly sliced garlic are tasty additions.
Roast at 350F until the tomatoes start to shrivel. Now lower the temp in the oven and continue to cook them. The timing depends on the size of your tomatoes and how thickly they are cut. Larger tomatoes can take a couple of hours. These cherry and saladette tomatoes took about forty-five minutes.
Keep the heat on until they are shrivelled, sweet and smoky. I let them cool in the oven once it is turned off to get a more sun-dried tomato texture.
These tomatoes are ready to eat right away. In fact, they are hard to stop eating.
But the really good news for us in February, is that slow roasted tomatoes can also be frozen. Thaw and eat as is, or puree into a delicious sauce.
I suppose this technique could be tried on those hard softballs they try to pass off as “tomatoes” in the grocery store. As for me, I’ll head to the freezer and bring out another package of summer.