How to freeze tomatoes for Winter salads and hot dishes - Oven-dried tomato recipe.

It's that time of year again when, either you have a glut of tomatoes or your friends and neighbours do and want to share their largesse. This method is particularly useful for those rather tasteless tomatoes, which are full of water and not much else. The idea started because we have friends who began regularly to give us whole trays of these latter. I never turn away good organic food and as we're usually well stocked up on purée and so many people told me tomatoes won't freeze, I needed a solution. So, here's how we preserve these fruits to give our Winter salads the taste of Summer and to furnish a whole host of delicious tomato dishes. 

Organic tomatoes for freezing

The first thing to do is taste the tomatoes, this will give you a good idea of what needs to be done to them, such as drying times and additions.

how freeze tomatoes

To get an intense tomato taste and a good solid texture into the tomato, I use the following process before freezing. Ironically this means that a bland, watery tomato variety tastes better than it would have done before!

how to oven-dry cherry tomatoes for freezing 
Depending on how much water is in the tomato you can either halve the fruit or for particularly large and/or watery specimens cut them into thick  slices.

Then drizzle oil onto the tomatoes to bring out the flavour.
how to oven-dry tomatoes with herbs for freezing

For added depth and interest I add our favourite herbs. This is a tisane mix of 'herbes de Provence' and it works really well on tomatoes!

Add more or less herbs depending on the original taste of the tomato.

how to oven-dry sliced tomato for freezing
I usually dry the tomatoes in the residual heat of the wood cooker, often overnight but more watery varieties may need a prolonged drying out at a higher temperature of 180 °C or approx 360 °F.  You will need to keep checking on them and that they are drying and not cooking. For very juicy tomatoes or the larger sections, as pictured below, you may need to pour off some liquid as otherwise your tomatoes will start to steam and become soft, rather than dry out. I add this liquid to soups or vegetable stock and at the end of the drying process, the remaining herby oil in the pan makes a wonderful quick crostini, when spread on bread.

how to oven-dry large tomatoes for freezing

It is a matter of individual taste as to how long you dry the tomatoes but I like a mix, as we use some of them for breakfast, some for pizzas and tarts, like the clafoutis below. The only problem is allowing them to cool and then freeze as the aroma is so intense you just want to dive in and consume them all.

clafoutis with oven-dreid tomato

I also use some of these frozen tomatoes to make confit, which is a fabulous French recipe often made with sun-dried tomatoes.

confit de tomates
This is confit above, so from a rather tasteless watery yellow tomato you can make an intense, delicious and I might add expensive, preserve.

Recipes for both the above dishes will be written up shortly.

If you've enjoyed this post then please feel free to share it, ask questions and/or comment.
Hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,
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© 2015 Sue Cross

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