Slow-roasted tomatoes

The recent glut of tomato recipes (the result of a glut of tomatoes) should end with this one, I hope; semi-preserving tomatoes by roasting all the moisture out of them and marinading in olive oil produces something so good that I think I’ll be roasting all my future tomatoes too this year. It’s a good method for dealing with large number of tomatoes, because when cooked in this way they reduce in volume so dramatically. The few pounds of raw tomatoes I cooked here resulted in about a jam-jar full of finished tomatoes.

Imagine how a tomato might taste if it was twenty feet tall and made of sunlight shining through a piece of red stained glass. Slow-roasting will transform your garden tomatoes into Platonic tomatoes of perfection, more tomato-ish than the juiciest tomato salad. The long, long cooking shrinks the tomatoes, concentrating their flavour – your whole house will smell of sunshine. Start this recipe in the morning; you need to keep the tomatoes in the oven for about seven hours. There’s very little actual work involved, though; once your tomatoes are cooking, you can forget about them for the day.

My tomatoes were the cherry-sized Tumbler. If you have a larger variety, you will need to cook them for longer. You’re aiming for a texture which is not quite dry, but not juicy. Test your tomatoes every half hour or so after seven hours to check for texture. (Try not to eat them all while you test. It’s quite a challenge.)

For one tray of tomatoes you’ll need:

Tomatoes, halved, to cover baking tray (about 2lb of cherry-sized tomatoes)
2 pinches caster sugar
1 level tablespoon dried oregano
2 large pinches salt
A generous amount of pepper
Olive oil to drizzle

Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer, cut sides up, on a baking tray. Sprinkle over all the dry ingredients evenly, and drizzle olive oil over the cut surfaces. Make sure you use plenty of freshly ground black pepper, which will help the tomatoes’ flavour sing.

Place in a low oven (100° C – you are aiming to dry rather than cook) for seven hours until the tomatoes are no longer juicy. Pack them with their oil into a jar, top up with some more olive oil and seal. Add half a clove of grated garlic to the jar if you want even more flavour to your tomatoes. The tomatoes will keep in the fridge for up to a week, but since you are unlikely to be able to open the fridge without being tempted to eat a spoonful in that time, they probably won’t be around for long enough for you to find out.

16 Replies to “Slow-roasted tomatoes”

  1. Ooh, “Platonic tomatoes of perfection”! I may have to snaffle that phrase from you.

    I’m also hoping to snaffle some of the actual tomatoes, which look marvellous…

  2. My tomatoes are your tomatoes, Lorna. Sadly, I’m going to have to make another batch because Dr Weasel ate the lot and then drank the oil last night, but I’m assuming this is just a sign that they’re very, very nice.

  3. Hello – I’m sorry your tomatoes didn’t work.

    It’s not the recipe’s fault, I’m afraid – 100 C is definitely not too hot. How long did you cook them for, and how old is your oven? Some older ovens cook hotter (especially at the low end) or colder than the temperature on the dial. You can buy small, in-oven thermometers at a good cookshop to check that your oven is running at the temperature you’ve told it to – very useful, especially for baking, if you have a temperamental oven.

  4. thanks for a great simple recipe. You can also slow cook red peppers the same way. Salt, pepper and herbs. The peppers become soft and sweet to taste. I use the same storage trick too – a glass jar with olive oil, garlic and mustard seeds. However I have no idea about how long they preserve for – I eat the lot within a few days!

  5. I googled ‘dry roasted tomatoes’ and found this page. I had a number of fresh homegrown cherry tomatoes and a recipe for spinach and roasted red pepper calzones, you see. I wanted to substitute tomatoes for the red peppers but didn’t know how to prepare them. Thank you so very much.

  6. Hi Jammaker – I’ve not attempted to keep them for longer than a week; sounds like yours may have been hanging around in the fridge for too long. I’d chuck them. Commiserations. 🙁

  7. I just finished making the roasted tomatoes. I used the excess tomatoes from the garden. They turned out great and taste delicious. One jar is not going to last very long I fear, but now I know how, I will definitely make them again. Thankyou.
    PS I used the remaining oven space to dry thinly sliced apple and fruit slices at the same time, although they only take an hour or two to do.

  8. I’ve just found this recipe and it sounds delicious, a lot of my favourite things in one jar. Before the tomatoes go up in price and down in quality I’d like to freeze some and I wondered if this method would work if I froze them once they’re dry and before adding oil. A week’s supply just doesn’t seem long enough…

  9. Hi Angela – I see absolutely no reason why that shouldn’t work; the tomatoes should be robust enough to stand up to freezing once dried. Let me know how it works out!

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