Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feels Like Fall-Roasted tomatoes and more

Even though it's approaching 90 right now, it's obvious we're nearing the end of summer. The nights are getting chilly, the trees are (barely) turning, kids are back in school, and I feel like canning. Raised in a family with the motto "Better make two batches for the potluck or we might all die because there won't be enough food", I feel driven to freeze and preserve food (which I then leave in the freezer or the jar all winter, waiting for the perfect occasion to eat it, which never arrives, especially as winter approaches.

More recipes will follow later, as I see how things work out. I'm contemplating wine jelly, tomato basil preserves (I picked 15 pounds of tomatoes yesterday alone), blueberry vanilla bean syrup, and frozen creamed corn.

Here's the basic roasted tomato technique I tried yesterday. I made two batches, each consisting of two 9x13" pans (about five pounds of tomatoes per batch). It's one of the simplest ways to preserve tomatoes I've found, short of just throwing them whole in ziploc bags in the freezer. It does ensure you get a rich tomato flavor in your finished product; I think sometimes freezing tomatoes damages their flavor in the same way refrigerating them is guaranteed to do. I used three or four big cloves of garlic per pan, just a little rosemary (because I had very little; more would've been good), olive oil, salt and pepper.

But, to be honest, I don't fully love the finished product. David pointed out that it tastes similar to sun-dried tomatoes, something neither of us really love. I made one batch with romas, that I froze, and then a batch with some unknown Beefsteak-like variety, that we pureed into sauce and ate with pasta last night. I added a bunch of fresh oregano and basil, then tossed with noodles and cubes of parmesan. I also added a little sugar, as this batch was very, very tart. I'm not sure if it was the variety or the recipe, and will do some more experimentation. And if I was going to make the recipe again for sauce, I'd throw some chunks of onion in to roast with the tomatoes, as tomato sauce without onion is just plain wrong.

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