Preserving Summer Tomatoes

Tomatoes are like a rock power ballad. Think Joe Cocker at Woodstock.  They start out with a nice slow tempo. A few tomatoes here and there, maybe even  some to share with the neighbors. It builds until we get the full chorus with emotional guttural lyrics, drums, guitars, synthesizer and more noise than we can comprehend. Just like the tomato plant that goes into overdrive and produces more fruit than you can possibly handle. The power ballad can leave you drained. An overactive  harvest can do the same.

This is another instance where your Aga truly shines. While the knob turners and flame slaves struggle to keep their sauce from sticking the Aga owner can preserve even the biggest harvest while they sleep. Here are three easy breezy ways to take care of the largest pile of vine ripened nightshades. I prefer to make all of these recipes while I sleep. The actual working time on these recipes is minimal. Homemade tomato paste with only 15 minutes of effort? Unheard of. Once you master these you will take as many free tomatoes as you can get your hands on.

Overnite in the Simmer Oven

Homemade Crushed Tomatoes

This is more of a theory and technique than recipe. Experiment with quantity and variety. By slow cooking the tomatoes water is evaporated and flavors concentrate. Be sure to use any juices that accumulate in the bottom of the pan when you pass them thru the food mill.

Gather up these ingredients

  • 7 # of washed ripe garden tomatoes
  • sea salt

Put the washed tomatoes in a roasting pan lined  with bak-o-glide and sprinkle with sea salt

Into the Simmer Oven. I do this before I retire for the evening and take out as soon as get up. Actually it's coffee first, then check on the tomatoes. You can count on 7 to 9 hours in the Simmer Oven.

Use a food mill fitted with the smallest diameter plate and pass the warm roasted tomatoes thru it. The skin and seeds will be left behind and bowl of beautiful crushed tomatoes will be ready for freezing or turning into Tomato Sauce

Taste and season with salt. If you are going to be turning it into paste go easy on the salt.

Homemade Tomato Paste

The crushed tomatoes still have that bright tart acidity. The paste is a deeper earthier flavor with much lower acidity. This paste is a perfect boost to pan sauces, stews, braises and of course Tomato Sauce

  •  1 batch of Homemade Crushed Tomatoes
  • sea salt

Line a Roasting Pan with bak-o-glide and add the crushed tomatoes.

Into the Simmer Oven for 5 hours. Timer goes beep and you down size into the smaller Aga roasting pan lined with bak-o-glide. Careful to spread the tomatoes evenly in the pan. You want to expose as much surface area to the gentle heat of the Simmer Oven as possible. Cook an additional 4 to 5 hours until the sauce is thick and deep reddish brown.

Slow Roast Tomatoes

Here is a repost from one of my favorite Aga tricks. Slow Roast Tomatoes packed in oil will keep for some time. Be sure to never put your fingers in the oil to retrieve the tomato. Use a nice clean fork. The best BLT's are made with these tomatoes. I'll put this up against Thomas Kellers BLT with the butter poached egg any day