Keeping it Simple: Tomato Preserving



I can’t be the only one that has a problem with getting home preserving right. My jam consistency is never correct and the time I processed salsa had me in tears. The Husband would say that it’s because I don’t follow directions when I’m cooking. While there is some validity to that theory, I would also offer that some preserving techniques are a pain in the ass and following the directions doesn’t always ensure a successful outcome.

Case in point, Tomato Basil Jam. I was ecstatic to come across a recipe that would keep me in tomato sandwiches for the entire winter. Fast-forward to my execution. The jars look pretty but the “jam” seems be rolling around like red vegetable oil inside my processed jar. Not quite what I had in mind and I followed the directions to the letter. I waited a week and the consistency is still the same even though the pectin packaging said that thickening could take time. I opened a jar to sample and it is really sweet. Definitely not what I had in mind and reaffirmation to trust my instincts (the amount of sugar in this recipe was staggering). That said, I’m still without a tomato spread to keep me in sandwiches through the winter. Does anyone have a recipe that I can try?

My preserving success seems to be come from the more simplified approaches. I acquired my dad’s vacuum food sealer this summer and have been freezing items like a crazy fool. When I grew tired of freezing whole and quartered tomatoes fresh from the vine, I tried this recipes with extremely tasty outcomes and very little effort – high priorities for me in the kitchen.

For others like me with tons of tomatoes that prefer the simplest preservation approach, I recommend slow-roasting using a cook’s best resource: The Joy of Cooking. These are really fantastic and so simple. I have been adding them to beans and rice for quick work lunches and expect them to work well in tomato sandwiches or bruschetta.

The recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes is on page 312 and calls for:

  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes cut into 3/4″ slices
  • 1 tsp each of powdered sugar, salt and black pepper

Tomato slices are placed in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkled with the powdered mix and your favorite chopped herbs (basil, thyme or other), drizzled with olive oil and baked for 2 hours at 250 degrees. Cool at room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. VOILA!

If you want something that is more akin to the sundried tomatoes packed in oil, try this recipe from The Splendid Table with Lynne Rossetto Kasper for  Oven-Candied Summer Tomatoes. Here are mine during the final rest period in the oil:

Candied Tomatoes

I still have tomatoes waiting to be preserved, so let me know if you have other great recipes that I should try!

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By Heidi Van Heel
Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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