Roasting the Last of the Tomatoes

roasted tomatoesTwo light frosts have blackened the tips of the tomato vines, but the fruits continue to ripen, slowly. They taste like autumn now, cold and a little mealy. I don’t care to haul out the canner for a small basket-load, so into the oven they go. Roasting and freezing are a good way to preserve tomatoes when you’ve had enough of canning and the house is chilly enough to make you want to turn on the oven.

Having misplaced the roasted-tomato recipe I’d developed in past years, I looked through others, on the Internet. How fussy they tend to be. Although tomatoes are rich in sugar and acid, and roasting concentrates both, many writers add sugar and vinegar to their tomatoes before roasting them. Most writers also call for tomatoes of a particular size, and usually you’re to place them all in the pan cut-side up—except in cases in which you’re to place them all cut-side down. Some writers even ask you to seed the tomatoes.

To my mind, all this fuss is a waste. I use tomatoes of any size, and I cut them into halves, quarters, eighths, or more pieces so they will cook into bite-size morsels. I toss them with oil and salt before tossing them into the pan. I add garlic and herbs, but I see those as optional.

The tomatoes end up simmering in their own juices, but they will do that however you slice and place them. Eventually the juices will dry up, and the tomatoes may even char a bit. At this point they are ready, to top pasta, pizza, or a tart or to freeze until later.

The one good tip I’ve garnered from other writers’ recipes is to line the pan with parchment paper. The tomatoes slide cleanly off the paper, and the pan needs barely any scrubbing.

Easy Roasted Tomatoes

4 pounds tomatoes, of any kind and any size, cut into chunks
3 to 4 garlic cloves (if you like garlic)
2 teaspoons fresh savory or thyme leaves
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Set a convection oven to 300 degrees F. (or a regular oven to 325 degrees F.), and line a 12-by-17-inch nonreactive pan with parchment paper. Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with the garlic, herb leaves, and olive oil. Add the salt, and toss again. Spread the tomatoes in the pan. Bake them for about 1½ hours, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.

But I am pushing my luck. Today I’ll pick green tomatoes, the perfect ones, full sized and with no sign of disease, in hopes that they will ripen indoors, stretching the fresh-tomato season a little longer.

About Linda Ziedrich

I grow, cook, preserve, and write about food in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
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6 Responses to Roasting the Last of the Tomatoes

  1. Christine Peterson says:

    Hi Linda,
    I LOVE roasted tomatoes but have found in recent years that the skins are tougher. Have you noticed it too? I pluck off the skins I can right after pulling cut-in-half or sliced tomatoes from the oven. I used to whomp the skins separately in the food processor and re-mix the resulting divine paste into the roasted toms and that wonderful olive oil/garlic juice, but the skins don’t “dissolve” in the processing like they used to so instead of dealing w/ pressing through a sieve, I’ve given up on the skins – or accept the chewy bits in sauce. Have you had the same impression about skins of late? Any suggestions?
    Thanks~ Chris Peterson

    • That’s a good point, Chris. Some tomatoes have thick skins, others don’t. Many people use paste tomatoes for roasting, but those, I think, are especially likely to have thick skins. With a mix of varieties (I now plant only one of each), I’m unlikely to notice chewy bits of skin. If you have a choice of tomatoes for roasting, perhaps it’s best to pick the ones with cracked skins. The skins crack because they are thin, right?

  2. Hi Linda,
    I use a similar recipe with just olive oil, salt and pepper; that I pass through the medium plate of a large mouli food mill. It’s called roasted tomato essence; because I have lots of wild cherry tomatoes I use those.

  3. Randal Oulton says:

    My current technique, gives me two tomato products:

    – put Costco super heavy-duty tin foil on the rimmed baking sheets (I’m no martyr to clean up);
    – cut tomatoes in half;
    – put cut side down on the foil;
    – roast, 45 to 50 minutes at 225 C (450 F) (put timer on so I don’t forget and make a burnt offering!)
    – take out, let cool, while cooling put more loads in if there are more;
    – when cool enough so that they can be touched comfortably, pinch the skin in the centre and pinch upwards — the entire skin will come off neatly in a microsecond;
    – set skins in a large measuring jug and set aside (refrigerate if I’m not proceeding with them till the next morning);
    – do whatever it is I am doing with the tomatoes;
    – spread skins out on dehydrator tray;
    – dry till crisp at 125 F / 50 C for 8 to 12 hrs depending on ambient humidity at the time;
    – grind to make roasted tomato skin powder for use as garnishes, in DIY dry mixes, quick tablespoon of tomato paste, etc. Great mixed with parm as a pasta topping sprinkle. There’s a handy usage brochure put out by UCCE Extension with loads more ideas.

    So I get two products for the work of 1, really.

    Mind you if I’m only roasting a dozen tomatoes, there aren’t enough skins to bother running the dehydrator for, those just go into the garden compost.

    You’re right, there does come a time in the season when you just can’t be paid even to haul out again the canners you just packed away for the year, no matter what bonanzas suddenly come your way. I’ve got 2 spare shelves in one of the upright freezers that I have been keeping free for just such “just in cases.”

  4. I know that some people make tomato powder by drying tomatoes until crisp and them grinding them up, but making a powder from tomato skins is new to me. Now I’d like to try both and compare the tastes.Here is a link to an article by the Master Food Preservers of Orange County about using dried tomatoes and tomato powder: https://ucanr.edu/sites/MFPOC/Food_Preservation/Tomatoes/How_to_Use_Dehydrated_Tomatoes/. By the way, the USDA is now warning Extension agents that all of its canning guidelines for tomatoes (including tomato salsa) are intended for peeled tomatoes only. So, for everyone who hates to throw away tomato skins, with all their fiber and nutrients, Randal has a solution for you!

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