A truly unforgettable taste and an original creation!
Tomatoes are the ultimate food. I grow several heirloom varieties and discover new favourites every year, but I would never forsake the oldies, either: small sweet succulent bobbles of nature’s nectar, the Sun Gold; miniature oblong hearty bursts of red tomato splendor, the Heirloom Juliette (as opposed to non-heirloom Juliette, and there is one); gigantic green hued purple heavy fleshy decadence, the Purple Cherokee. This year the season was long enough to harvest a truckload of Green Zebras and they are an anomaly: a gorgeous vibrant stripy green tomato with a vivid bright and lush rich complex “tomatoey” flavour. The Orange Amana was another significant discovery as the massive firm and fleshy umami steeped and hearty beast lords over the garden with a noble nod.
I could go on.
After months of tending to the tendrils, coaxing the bees to pollinate, and whispering to the hard little buds forming within the wilting flowers: grow… grow…grow! Each arrives in full harvest regalia almost at once. These are my summer “candies”, my afternoon treat and my daily fetish. There is nothing better than a fresh tomato plucked from its uber fragrant fuzzy clingy vine popped into my mouth bursting with the warmth of the sun and the lively colourful flavour of Thanksgiving harvest… or sliced and dusted with a finishing salt.
Well, maybe one thing. My preserved oven dried tomatoes.
I enjoy them a variety of ways, but one of my favourite is with fresh Bocconcini cheese. That is one of the reasons that I want to learn to make cheese this year. I adore Bocconcini cheese and these tomatoes so I really want to learn how to make this cheese, too. The simplicity of this dish is powerful to the palate.
There are many other ways I use these tomatoes: grilled pizza, pasta, toasty croustini… each equally delicious. Below is a soon to be grilled (and topped with shredded basil) pizza; the crust has been grilled on the top side.
There is not a day through our cold Winter months that I am not thankful for the tremendous bounty from my small urban garden. The tomatoes harvest this year has been the greatest in ten years due to our incredible fall weather.
I use only glass pyrex dishes to roast the tomatoes in and fill each one layer deep only when the tomatoes are larger and cut in half, or quarters for the huge tomatoes. I leave the small tomatoes whole, and fill each dish as you see, below. I peel some really great garlic, usually from Sun Dog Organics, and slice a head or two into each casserole dish, then pour some really good quality fruity olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with Maldon Salt. In the oven at 170°F for 24 to 48 hours depending upon the size of the tomato, and then pack them into jars to freeze.
Below is a tray of Green Zebra Tomatoes. You can see them in the bowl, above, too. There is an Orange Amana at the back of the bowl and the Heirloom Juliettes are in the wooden box to the left.
Above is the Costoluto Genovese which is a delicious and is a classic Italian heirloom tomato great fresh and in sauces. Below, in the middle is the Purple Cherokee and to the left, a variety from my garden: Carolina Gold, Miss Kim, and Oregon Spring.
Below, left, is the Heirloom Juliette sitting on top of some lovely Golden Raves. The next two dishes primarily hold Ball’s Beefsteak and Cluster Grand, neither are heirlooms, as you can see.
The oven dried tomatoes coming up have some slightly over dried tomatoes on the right tray. The middle tray was done without garlic, oil and salt this time to experiment with the use of unseasoned preserved tomatoes. You will see as you scroll down that I did this for some of the trays. I made about 6 times this amount through the summer and now that I have finished, I do regret not adding garlic, oil and salt to them all. The tomatoes without the seasoning are delicious, but the others are significantly tastier.
This is a sampling of my garden “gold”. I actually started, just this year, freezing some batches in ziplock freezer bags and will see how well they keep and how well that works. I do know that they freeze and last all year in a jar with the oil, garlic and salt, and if in the fridge for an extended period, as long as they are covered in oil, will keep for a very long time. However, the distilled essence that liquifies in the dish as they roast is deadly yummy and I do not add extra oil unless necessary. Usually there is enough in the dish to cover all of the tomatoes in jars if they are roasted properly.
I use the convection part of my oven and rotate the trays and move them to another shelf in the oven about every four hours to distribute the heat as evenly as possible.
Preserved Oven Dried Tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon Salt
- Layer a pyrex casserole dish with tomatoes; if large, cut in half and face down for first half of drying time and up for second half (see notes above for other sizes)
- Peel and slice a couple of heads of garlic for tray of tomatoes, and disperse evenly throughout
- Generously, drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic
- Sprinkle with Maldon Salt to taste (an average amount)
- Dry roast at 170°F with oven on convection, if possible, for 24 to 48 hours, depending upon size of tomatoes
- Rotate trays of tomatoes through the oven, turning them as well, about every four hours
- Remove from oven and gently move tomatoes to preserving jars, sharing the liquid from the pan amongst the jars, loosely seal and freeze
- Tighten the seal on the jars once frozen
- Thaw in the fridge prior to use and be prepared to be blown away!
I think that the flavor of roasted tomatoes is unbeatable. You certainly loaded your oven 😉
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Love those summer tomatoes!
I gotta wonder Valerie… how big is your garden? or how big is your freezer for that matter.. Lol… I looooove tomatoes too and boy did I wish I had that bounty but – don’t laugh – I have one measly little tomato. Well I had a few more but that’s about it. I am terrible at keep track of the tomato water situation which is the reason they don’t do so well…. O well, we can’t all be good in the same things right.. 😉 Love the look of those oven roasted ones too!
You would be surprised at how small our yard and garden really is, but more importantly, how much one can grow in such a small space! I have been in the one tomato plant place before, too!
Joan Nova says
Gorgeous bounty of tomatoes! I must say that I was drooling while scrolling.
Christine @ Fresh Local and Best says
I’ve done this in years’ past and loved the concentrated flavors, so much so I never had any left for the freezer. What a great end of summer cooking idea.
Those look awesome. Very envious of your tomato harvest, ours were hit hard by the first hail recovered somewhat but we did not have this type of harvest. My son loves bocconcini too, obviously paired with tomatoes and basil, so if it is not ne of the challenges we will be making it too.
This could be a fun one to try together – the three of us! We will definitely doing Mozzarella one month, but the Bocconcini will be an alternate and it is HIGH on my alternate list!
The Teacher Cooks says
I love this Valerie!!!
Your beautiful oven roasted bounty will be such a treat for you! I’m loving the combination with cheese. Your garden must be quite splendid, Valerie! My Father in law grows heirloom tomatoes every year, and one of his favorites is the Purple Cherokee. I’ll definitely have to look out for the Green Zebra — never seen that one!
Have a great weekend, Valerie!
How beautiful all of your tomatoes are!!! Tomato season is definitely waning here with the shorter days and I may be making fried green tomatoes in the near future 🙂
I have tried many of the varieties you’ve mentioned and haven’t had great luck with some of them so I only grow the varieties that perform best in our humid, Lake Michigan summers.
I love that you have such a variety of tomatoes.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
I’m so happy to have discovered your blog. I grow heirloom tomatoes each summer but have never tried the Green Zebra. As they say, there is always next year.
I am happy, too, Karen!
Tomatoes are my favourite food. We need to talk next planting season!!!
Why oh why didn’t I see this before the tomatoes all disappeared from the markets?? I’m tempted to buy up some cherry tomatoes that are still tasty and try it with those. Looks absolutely amazing
Valerie Lugonja says
They are even better than they look. This is one of my most prized recipes and I love sharing them!