Tomatoes used to come just at the beginning of September in Maine. It’s October and they are still on the farmer’s stands. What does this mean? Well, first of all, it means that we get to eat fresh, local tomatoes for a longer season. Second, that the farmers are getting a longer growing season with warmer weather into the fall. And third, that many have added hoop houses or green houses to their growing plans. Whatever the reason may be, is it not glorious to be able to enjoy fresh tomatoes for longer than a few weeks?
Core and slice tomatoes into thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer (slight overlap is ok, piled high not) on a parchment or foil-lined sheet pan. Cover generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs (dried are better – marjoram, oregano, sage, an Italian blend, or Herbes de Provençe to name but a few). Place in a low oven (180°F/85°C) for 4-6 hours. The tomatoes will exude their juices and begin to dry on the tops. I usually flip them about half-way through.
When the tomatoes are cooked down and the juice and oil have filled the pan, pour all into a large glass jar. Add some extra olive oil to top of the jar. Allow to cool uncovered. When cool enough, cover the jar with a plastic or a canning two-piece lid, and keep in the refrigerator.
To keep oven-dried tomatoes at room temp for long-term storage, you need a dehydrator and the tomatoes must be totally dry. I recommend the semi-dried state. If you make a lot, and have several jars, they can be stored in the freezer for about 3 months.
With this process the tomatoes will still be moist and will need to be kept in the refrigerator. They will last for about ten days, of course, they will be consumed way before that.
Freezer-style Tomato Sauce
Wash, core and cut tomatoes into quarters. Place in a large non-reactive (no aluminum) pot. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Simmer over a low flame stirring often. When the tomatoes are softened, puree through a food mill. Depending on the size hole in the disk that is being used, will allow for the removal of seeds. I prefer to leave the seeds in. They add flavor and texture. Seasonings may be added to the tomatoes. I do not add anything, no salt, nothing, and use this as a base for sauces through the winter.
After putting tomatoes through a food mill, the sauce can be placed in Mason jars and cooled. Lid, mark (mark on lids or labels on lids – labels are really hard to remove from jars), and cover. Place in freezer for up to 6 months.
NOTE This method does not allow for safe canning at room temperature. If you want to can and store in the pantry, follow the Ball Jar website Tomato Sauce recipe.
Pickled Green Tomatoes
The photo of the many colored tomatoes, that are few in number, was my entire harvest this season. Every year the garden has been made smaller and small and the yield less and less as a result. The primary culprit of the reduced harvest is the lack of sun as the trees have grown higher since the garden was built. A few of the tomatoes ripened, but most remained hard and green. I was determined to not let them go to waste.
The first step in many pickling recipes is salting and letting them sit overnight. Depending on how cool your kitchen is or isn’t, you may want to put them in the fridge. I divvied the tomatoes based on variety (I bought all fun varieties as it is easy to buy big, juicy red ones at most of the farmer’s markets). Small tomatoes do not need to be cored, big ones do.
Place the tomatoes into stainless steel or glass bowls and sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt. If you are going to can the tomatoes, you may want to use pickling salt. Pickling salt does not contain anti-caking agents (regular and kosher salt do). Anti-caking agents can make the vinegar solution cloudy when it is canned. It is safe to use regular or kosher salt, it will not affect the taste or safety in the canning method, it is simply an aesthetic thing. Pickled Green Tomatoes may be canned or stored in the refrigerator depending on the recipe and method of preservation chosen.
Pickled Green Tomato Recipes:
NYT Pickled Green Tomatoes by Rose Schulman (refrigerator storage)
4 Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes by Garden Betty (canned in hot water bath method)
Green Tomato Salsa Verde from freshpreserving.com (Ball Jar website, hot water bath method)
Tomatoes pickled with –
- Sweet Heat – Panch Pharon & Turmeric
- Savory – Fresh Rosemary and Whole Peppercorns
- Smoky Heat & Sweet – Smoked Hot Spanish Paprika and Turbinado Sugar
Tomato & Beans on Toast
This is a classic British meal. I have given it an update and actually served it to my family for dinner. It was a fun twist on how to use the freshly made tomato sauce before a jar made it to the freezer.
Tomato & Beans on Toast
- 1 large baguette cut into four pieces (or two smaller ones cut in half)
- 8oz/250ml fresh tomato sauce
- 16 oz/250g cooked beans (any type will do)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 cloves fresh garlic smashed (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Italian blend herb seasoning
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh oregano
Cut baguette into sections and then cut in half.
Place in toaster or in oven to lightly toast.
In a large saucepan, add olive oil.
Sauté onions until they start to soften and become translucent.
Add garlic and cook slightly, do not allow to burn.
Add beans and tomato sauce, and heat through.
Add herb seasoning.
Place bread open-faced on a place. Top with the bean and tomato sauce mixture.
Garnish with fresh oregano and serve.