The last of the tomatoes are ripening on the vine. Many more are currently ripening on the ground after a spate of blustery weather, and it takes a Herculean effort on my part to pick them this morning, as it is not just the harvesting but the promise of preparation implicit in the gathering that makes me wonder if it might not be better to wait until tomorrow.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I roll the thought around as I heft the large hog wire cages back into upright positions, think better of it and let them fall again against wet leaves and spent soil. These poor players have had their hour upon the stage, and we are within minutes of the season drawing to a close. Already my thoughts are turning to woodland mushrooms, beef and venison pie, and guilty slices of warm apple pie for breakfast.
Fall is here.
And yet, so are these tomatoes. My conscience will not let me ignore them. Chances are, neither will yours. Here are three quick things to do with this last harvest that can assuage that conscience with minimum effort and maximum enjoyment. If you’ve got a food processor, the effort is almost less than minimal.
Roasted tomatoes for the freezer
If those bushel baskets are overflowing, this is an easy way of processing the harvest without ever figuring out how to seal a canning jar. They will last in the freezer for up to a year and you can use them wherever you want a bit of homegrown tomato flavor.
Grab your overflowing baskets. Find something riveting on television, or at the very least, marginally entertaining. Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out and discard extra seeds and juice, and lay them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. When you’re finished, finely chop a couple garlic cloves together with some thyme and oregano and any other herb you have in the garden that you think will taste good with winter tomato dishes. Add some olive oil, salt, pepper and a little bit of balsamic vinegar and perhaps a tsp of sugar (as if you are making a salad dressing).
Drizzle the herb mixture over the tomatoes and place in a 300 degree oven. Roast them slowly to concentrate flavor – about an hour and a half. Let them cool then seal into Ziploc bags (ah the miracle of petroleum products!), and freeze.