Thursday, July 28, 2022

Extend the life of your tomatoes with these recipes

 

If you have a garden in Indiana, chances are you have tomato plants. And we are fast approaching the most magical time of the year when tomatoes come in… and they don’t stop. So for about a month we’re swimming in tomatoes, and then nothing. That’s why I wanted to share a few recipes that will help you enjoy your tomatoes for a longer time.

The first recipe I want to discuss is tomato confit. Confit (pronounced con-fee) is a preservation method in which food is slowly cooked in fat. It isn’t like a little drizzle of fat. Confit is like a fat bath.

For meat (like traditional duck confit), the item is usually cooked in its own fat. But for foods like tomatoes and garlic, the food is slow-cooked in olive oil and then stored in jars in the oil it was cooked in. The fat makes it hard for bacteria to grow and it reduces oxidation, thus extending the time before it spoils.

Tomatoes cooked in this method will keep their shape and their natural, fresh flavor.

You can store tomato confit in the refrigerator in glass jars (making sure the tomatoes are fully covered in oil) for a month. You can also freeze tomato confit in freezer-safe jars for up to 3 months.

You can use tomato confit as a sauce with pasta or spooned over meat or seafood. Or you can even use it as a condiment on a sandwich or on good quality bread with a little ricotta spread.

After you eat all the tomatoes, use the olive oil for dressings, as a dip with bread, or just about anything else you can think of.


Tomato confit

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tomatoes
  • 10 sprigs fresh herbs (thyme, basil, and rosemary are my favorites)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place tomatoes in single layer in baking dish. Arrange herbs and garlic around tomatoes.
  3. Add balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour olive oil into dish until tomatoes are halfway submerged. Add more olive oil if necessary.
  5. Bake for 2 hours, or until tomatoes are soft but they haven’t burst.
  6. Transfer to jars with cooking oil. Make sure tomatoes are submerged in oil before closing lid.
  7. Cool to room temperature and store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Not all pickling involves cucumbers. You can pickle just about anything! It’s more of a process than a recipe, and it involves soaking vegetables in a brine that’s usually equal parts vinegar and water. 

So why pickle tomatoes? The acid in the brine solution slows the growth of harmful bacteria and preserves tomatoes past their normal expiration. Pickling also gives the tomatoes a delicious tangy, salty flavor that makes them a unique ingredient to use in a wide variety of dishes.

The recipe I’m sharing is a “quick pickle” recipe, meaning there’s no canning required. It also means you must store them in the refrigerator and eat them within a month.

Pickled Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh herbs (thyme, basil, and dill are great choices)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar 

Directions

  1. Use skewer to poke hole through each tomato.
  2. Place garlic, herbs, and coriander seeds in pint jar.
  3. Pack tomatoes into jar.
  4. Combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve salt and sugar.
  5. Pour brine over tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch at top. 
  6. Tap jar a few times to remove air bubbles. Top off jar with more brine if necessary.
  7. Screw on lid and cool to room temperature before storing in refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
  8. Wait at least 48 hours before eating.

Sun-dried tomatoes are tomatoes minus the water. As a result, the flavor is very intense and concentrated. I use sun-dried tomatoes in a wide variety of dishes. They’re great in salads, in pastas, in pesto, in omelets… 

Here’s a secret you probably already guessed—sun-dried tomatoes aren’t always dried in the sun. You can make sun-dried tomatoes at home in your oven. Cut smaller tomatoes in half and larger tomatoes in quarters. Any type of tomato works well. Just make sure the cut pieces are uniform so they dry at the same rate. Other than tomatoes, the only other ingredient you need to make these is salt. Sprinkling a little salt on top will help the tomatoes release moisture. You can also add dried herbs and seasonings for additional flavor.

Store the tomatoes for several months in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer. Just don’t place them in the crisper drawer because they need to remain moisture free.


Sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces tomatoes, cut in half or quartered depending on size, pulp removed from larger varieties
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Place tomatoes cut-side up on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for 3 hours. 
  3. Flip tomatoes and smash to remove an excess moisture.
  4. Return to oven for an hour or until tomatoes are very dry but still pliable.
  5. Store in air-tight bag in refrigerator for several months or in freezer for up to a year.


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