It seems weird, I know, but I never got around to canning. I have, however, fallen solidly and madly in love with freezer preservation. In fact, freezer preserving oven-roasted cherry tomatoes is hands-down my favourite perk of gardening, and much of the reason why I continue doing it.
Ever since I started up my planter (it’s in its third year now), I’ve used it to grow Sweet 100s Cherry Tomatoes. It’s an indeterminate variety, which means it will be extremely prolific–and will continue to be so until the plant gets killed by frost. While I love tomatoes, there’s no humanly possible way to keep up with this plant eating them fresh.
Years ago, my Aunt was telling me about her method of preserving tomato crops: oven roasting and freezing. Incredibly simple, very quick, and easy to do while you’re already roasting a chicken in the oven or baking something else.
After giving it a try, I had to give it an enthusiastic, licking-the-pan thumbs up. I’ve been doing it with my excess ever since. And let me tell you, if you’ve never tried roasting your own tomatoes, you are totally missing out. You end up with soft, juicy, potent tomato flesh with a hint of caramelized sweetness that’s excellent for a quick pasta dish, a loaf of bruschetta, or a beautiful, fast and tasty canapé for entertaining in those dull winter months.
Freezer preserving oven-roasted cherry tomatoes can keep you in the taste of summer all winter long. This trick is also a very good means of beefing up the taste of tomatoes that are slightly green (if the season ends before your tomatoes do). But even if you don’t garden… buy them when they’re ripe and in season and do this to put them by, or use it to make the hothouse tomatoes in the off season palatable.
You can roast with herbs or without, but whatever you do, don’t skip the salt. A cookie sheet with a little parchment paper is perfect for lightly roasting a few to go with a meal, but you can also use a Pyrex or Corningware dish with a heavy coat of olive oil. It makes cleanup easier and you can save more of the delectable juices and the tomato-flavoured olive oil in the pan… it’s perfect for pastas!
- 1 lb cherry tomatoes, washed and halved (minimum)
- 1-2 pinches of coarse salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- A few sprigs of herbs and/or coarse pepper, optional
- Either use a cookie sheet lined with parchment, or lay a decent coating of olive oil along the bottom of a 8x11 or 9x13 Pyrex or Corningware casserole dish. A pound of cherry tomatoes halved pretty much fills up one of these, so you may need to opt for a larger pan if doing more.
- Lay your cherry tomatoes along the bottom, cut side up. Don't overfill the dish/sheet.
- Sprinkle the salt and herbs over the top of your tomatoes, and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until they reach desired doneness.
- Allow to cool, and package in airtight freezer-safe containers (Glassloc, etc.)
- I recommend using Pyrex or Corningware if you're not using parchment because they can tolerate heavy scrub duty. Otherwise you may wreak your good roasting pans!