The quick way to preserve summer's tomatoes

As the last days of really great tomatoes draw near, it’s time to think about preserving some to enjoy for the winter. When we’re feeling very organized and on top of our game, we might can or make sauce to freeze in batches. (One of our market employees likes to make this recipe for canned crushed tomatoes from Washington Post contributor Cathy Barrow.) But sometimes life comes at us fast and hard, and we simply do not have time, patience, or gumption to get out our canner.

So this year, we decided to go do it the easy way: roast halved tomatoes low and slow in the oven, until they’re almost leathery but still retain some plumpness, then pack them in a freezer bag and put at the bottom of the freezer, where we can dig them out in a few months and be happy that we did.

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Here’s how to do it:

Take as many tomatoes as you want, whichever variety that you prefer. We used Romas because they are particularly meaty and turn almost jammy, but we’ve done this with everything between cherry tomatoes and beefsteaks. The only thing that matters is choosing tomatoes roughly the same size (but you can be flexible, as seen in the photo above), so that they’ll roast at about the same rate.

Preheat your oven to about 250 degrees F. Remove the stems, cut away any bad bits, then slice your tomatoes in half lengthwise, from pole to pole (through the stem end, not in half through its equator). Arrange in a single layer on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, and any other spice you might like, then drizzle each tomato with a little oil. Slide your baking sheet into the oven and roast for anywhere between 1 1/2 hours to 3 or more, depending on the size of your tomatoes. You want them to end up looking something like this:

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Let the tomatoes cool completely before storing and freezing. (If you’re not freezing, you can cover them completely in olive oil and store in the refrigerator for up to several weeks. But if you’re freezing, just pop them in freezer storage bags and call it a day.)

Another tip: we usually roast them at night, and by the time they’re done, we don’t want to stay up to wait for them to cool. You can just turn the oven off and let them cool off in the oven, then take care of them in the morning.

A small amount of our tomatoes are coming to markets this weekend, so pick some up to hold on to them a little longer into the year! Here’s what else we’ve got coming:

  • Last of the peaches. Prepare yourselves.

  • Pluots

  • Bartlett pears

  • Concord grapes (Make this shrub! It’s great!)

  • Niagra grapes

  • Other sweet, sweet seedless grapes

  • Apples:

    • Fuji

    • Golden Delicious

    • Ambrosia

    • Pinova

    • Smokehouse

    • Liberty (sweet like a McIntosh, but a little more tart)

    • Nova Spy

    • Braeburn

    • And more. We have so. Many. Apples.

  • And of course our fresh-pressed cider, in Honeycrisp and U.V. processed varieties

See ya at the markets.