We’ve had a great tomato year–about as good as it gets in Seattle. A hot summer, and warmth into the beginning of October (last year the green tomatoes practically withered on the vine in early August). But autumn is truly with us now, and as I pick tomatoes this Harvest Moon morning, it is with the bittersweet realization that this is the end of the harvest. Still, there are more cherry tomatoes left today than we can possibly eat.
This year I tried a new freezing technique, inspired by June (my rural soul-sister) and her beautiful blog, Four Green Acres. The tomatoes are halved, doused with a lovely herbed olive oil mixture, and roasted. I’ve fixed cherry tomatoes this way before–SO delicious on salads, or on sandwiches with crusty bread (try then on ciabatta, with romaine doused in fresh caesar dressing–heaven). But I’d never thought to freeze them. Here’s what you do:
Rinse the cherry tomatoes, and halve them, then scoop out the really juicy-seedy stuff (save it in a bowl for the chickens–they’ll love you forever). We find that the small end of a melon baller works great for this part. Spread them, cut-side-up, on a baking sheet. Claire prepares the tomatoes while I start on the olive oil potion. Her comment: “I feel like Laura Ingalls. I come home from school, do my homework, and now I’m Putting Up Food for the Winter.”
For one baking sheet of tomatoes I mix: about 1/3 cup olive oil; 1 large clove of garlic, minced; a couple teaspoons of chopped thyme (oregano and basil, or a mixture, would also be good–use whatever’s growing in your garden).
Use a pastry brush to spread the olive oil over the tomatoes, then sprinkle with your best sea salt, a small handful of finely grated reggiano parmesan, and a dusting of fresh ground pepper.
Roast in a 300 degree oven for–well, it depends. You want that tasty roasted flavor, and the tomatoes should start to color and dry just a bit. But you still want them somewhat moist and certainly not dehydrated. Start checking them after half an hour, and use your best judgement. They shouldn’t roast more than an hour.
Let them cool before gently packing them into freezer jars. They can be plucked out a few at a time for tossing on salads, or nibbled whenever you need a sunny taste of summer in the dark of winter. The only problem I have is eating too many of them before they make it to the freezer…
For a slightly different method, see June’s beautifully-photographed instructions. She is not as lazy as I am, so she stirs the salt, pepper, and parmesan into the olive oil mixture, and spoons it into every individual little tomato. So yummy.
Happy Harvest Moon.