The garden tomato crop is winding down, but still there were too many to eat in salads and on sandwiches alone. I’d made enough Tomato Pies, and I didn’t think DH would eat another one, LOL!!
While reading a charming little book called Simple Pleasures of the Garden, I found a wonderful idea on preserving the last of the crop by drying and then storing in olive oil. I looked up the idea in one of my other books on tomatoes, Bread, Tomato, Garlic Quick Cooking with 3 Main Ingredients, and found the procedure close to the same. Naturally, I had to try it.
Begin with cutting the tomatoes, either in half for the smaller ones or in thirds if they were larger. Remove the stem section.
Leave the seeds and jelly as those have flavor.
Put them on a rack over a pan sprayed with cooking spray to catch any drips.
Bake in a 180ºF oven. They were doing well after about 2 hours, but needed a lot more.
While the tomatoes dried in the oven, I got out a selection of jars. It was obvious that the smallest one would do fine, so I washed and sterilized it while the tomatoes continued drying.
After six hours, the tomatoes were looking good. I was running out of time, so this would have to do.
They are somewhat drier, but next time I’ll go at least 8 hours, or maybe overnight as one book suggests.
The tomatoes were packed in the jar, then pressed with a fork to remove any air while they were still hot.
Add olive oil until the tomatoes are covered by about a quarter-inch of oil, and all the air spaces are gone. Cover tightly. The tomatoes will keep on the counter for about a week, or in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Naturally, I couldn’t stop there. I gathered fresh parsley, basil and oregano from my garden to add to the tomatoes.
I chopped all the herbs together.
Then they were added to the tomatoes. A bit more oil to cover them up again was needed. Update and warning!! Be absolutely sure that your tomatoes are well pressed and COMPLETELY covered with oil or they will grow hazardous bacteria in short order.
A few days later, I wanted to use them, and decided on a pizza. I had a new idea for one, and these tomatoes were the perfect thing. The crust is a thin Boboli flatbread crust, and I brushed it lightly with olive oil and spread ricotta cheese on top.
Then I spooned the tomato/herb sauce on top and spread them out.
I topped the pizza with small cubes of fresh mozzarella, portabello mushrooms, cooked sausage and onions, and the last bit of a summer sausage finely diced.
Bake for 10 minutes on an open rack at 450ºF (232ºC).
Yum! Those tomatoes tasted so fresh with the flavor concentrated! I have to say, that these tomatoes over the ricotta base was really delicious, and would work with any toppings. Next time I think I’ll add spinach. One more fresh tomato from my garden was served on the side salad for the meal.
These were incredible, and I am definitely doing this again with just a couple of modifications. I’ll increase the oven to 200ºF (93ºC) and dry for at least 8 hours next time.
Have you dried tomatoes and preserved them in oil like this? Do you think this is something you might try? Do you still have tomatoes ripening in your garden?
Check out these books for more delicious ideas to use tomatoes –
Simple Pleasures of the Garden,
Bread, Tomato, Garlic Quick Cooking with 3 Main Ingredients,
The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes,
The Tomato Basket,
Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden’s Most Versatile Vegetable,
Tomatomania!: A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen and
The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World’s Most Beautiful Fruit
(Amazon affiliate links)
19 thoughts on “End of the Garden Tomatoes”
Carole, what a great idea for the end of the season tomatoes. I have never heard of drying tomatoes, but they certainly were perfect for your pizza!
Wow! Great idea for tomatoes for our never ending tomatoes! And that pizza looks amazing!
Always looking for ideas to feature the heirloom tomatoes I grow each year and to preserve for the winter…I have roasted tomatoes in olive oil, then frozen; made tomato sauce using my trusty Foley food mill; used the crockpot to make catsup; whipped up tomato jam…yummy on burgers…I❤tomatoes!
I’ve never tried that and didn’t even plant one plant this year. I’m the only one who eats them so I just buy what I need. Your pizza recipe sounds wonderful! Anything with ricotta cheese can’t help but be scrumptious!! LOL
You can freeze whole tomatoes and use them later to make soup or spaghetti sauce. I learned this recently from a coworker.
If I only had time. I will save the recipe though and send it on to my cooking daughter (the younger one)
I have been reading all of your posts, Carole, you know that…. just no time for tapping out a comment…. also I sprained my thumb rolling down a hill with a 4 year old grand girl (the oldest) and that kept me restrained for a while.
Your photos are exceptional
Hi Carole. This looks very interesting, and not a lot of work, so I might try it. Lately, I have been buying the 16″ cheese pizza from Aldi, ($4.99), and adding a lot of topping we enjoy, plus a little more cheese to keep it all in place. I particularly like the fact that they don’t go heavy on the tomato base, and you can’t go wrong, at that price. We have lots of tomatoes, yet to be enjoyed, and given away, and think we will have enough for another month, depending on the weather.
That looks like a great idea, and I especially like the looks of the flatbread pizza you made! Yummy! I’m still getting cherry tomatoes, but my large ones didn’t do well this year. I wonder if you could do the same thing with cherry tomatoes.
Great idea. We will have the fresh ones for a few more months, but I will have to remember this.
Good morning Carole,
Just finished copying your latest tomato recipe. In reading my e-mails today there is one from Travels and Leisure trips to the mountains for the best foliage time and there is a trip in N.C. about a trip on hwy. 64 between The Highlands and Cashiers about the shadow of a bear on the side of the mountain at certain times of th day and the best time to catch this in the day both in the morning and the evening. Have you and your traveling friends seen this unusual event? If you have it might be one to let all of us in on, any chances of that?
Have a great week, we have finally gotten a little relief from the heat, THANK THE LORD.
I wish that I had a bounty of tomatoes to try this but it didn’t work out that way. However, that pizza looks amazing, and I think it deserves a try for sure. Thanks for yet another great meal idea!
I was just told that you could slice tomatoes like you would for sandwiches and stack in a jar, cover with water and one teaspoon of salt. Water bath for 10 minutes. She said they come out all winter long like a fresh slice of tomato! She said she eats BLT’s all winter!
Although you thought the tomatoes should have been in the oven longer I think the stage you took them to was just right. I find really dried out tomatoes lose or change flavour too much.
Anyway, I’m going to give it a try with the tasteless tomatoes that are available here at the moment (just coming to the end of Winter) and with some herbs – bit of a treat they would be I think.
Thank you for the idea! :))
I just keep making marinara and freezing it for Winter. I know we will enjoy it then.
I inherited my Mom’s dehydrator several years ago and have been drying Roma tomatoes on that ever since. They dry in 6-8 hours and I don’t have to keep checking on them as it’s a very low heat. Those get packaged and plopped in the freezer, then added to salads, pizza, risotto, etc. all winter long. I have several recipes that use dried tomatoes in oil, so some get preserved that way also. If you store in the refrigerator, just be sure to take them out an hour or so ahead of use – the olive oil tends to get thick as it chills and it’s difficult to get the tomatoes out.
This looks so good. I have to try it! Thanks for sharin!
Yummy! We have a screen, so do sun dried tomatoes then pack them with an oxygen absorber in reused peanut containers. They last all year long, and taste free at on pizza and with Alfredo, etc. The intense flavor is so amazing, like pure sunshine! Our tomatoes are just coming on. I am hoping I have enough to do a canner load of stewed tomatoes this weekend.
This looks delicious!! We are not much for gardening but I’m thinking we might do some small container gardening next year; I think my son would enjoy watching food grow. We’ve got blueberries and he loves to go check on them. Tomatoes would be #1 on my list!
I didn’t plant them this year, but friends still have them. We’re 80s and going back to mid-90s by Thursday, so we’ll have some for a while. Reminds me of Arizona … except it’s too humid! =) Looks like a great recipe. I haven’t dried them like that. Sun dried, but that takes a lot longer, and I wouldn’t try it in humid Tennessee.
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