I have been up to my ears in summer vegetables. I’ve had squash, eggplant, peppers of every color, okra, corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes all make their way through my kitchen in the last few weeks. One thing I did differently this year was fire roasting my tomatoes before I froze them.
I find myself buying cans of fire roasted tomatoes all throughout the year to put in soups, pastas, chilies–just about anything that calls for canned tomatoes. I love the deep, smoky flavor they have, so I thought I’d try roasting my own, instead of just blanching and dicing the usual way. It was actually very easy and I prefer it to other methods. So here’s what I did:
1. I washed the tomatoes, then dried them. Then I cut the ends off, then I cut them in half.
2. I laid them on a large baking sheet that I had sprayed with cooking spray. For my first batch, I drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, but on all subsequent batches, I left them plain. I really saw no difference between the olive oiled ones and the ones without.
3. I set the oven to broil. I put the pan in the oven on the top rack directly beneath the flame, and I roasted them, being careful to rotate the pan every few minutes for nice, even color. This took about 20 or so minutes for each batch. I did not flip them or turn them over.
4. I laid them out on the kitchen table to cool to the touch so I could cut them up. The skins slipped off very easily, but, and this is a big but, if you’ll notice on the back of the store bought can of tomatoes I had, the ingredients said that the tomatoes were canned unpeeled. This gives those beautiful, black bits dispersed throughout the tomatoes.
Nothing says “”I’ve been fire-roasted” like those little charred bits. That’s what I’ve always said, all my life. Anyway, I left quite a few of the skins on. But if you are opposed to the skins, they slide off very easily. I think I’ve already said that.
Yes, I did.
After they cooled, I chopped them (which, they were soft so it was more of a combination “chop” and “smush”), then put them in a big bowl. Now, I wanted each bag of tomatoes to be equal to one can of store bought tomatoes, so when I cook I can easily swap out my frozen bags for the cans. Each can holds about 1 and 2/3 cups, so I filled each bag with that amount. Then I sealed them and laid them flat to freeze. Then I proceeded with the rest.
And proceeded. And proceeded.
And that’s it! Keep in mind that the store bought cans have salt and extra flavors added. I added nothing to mine. I could have added some salt, but I didn’t. I’ll have to remember this whenever I cook with them. They’re going to need some seasoning up.
I can truthfully say that this was quite a simple and easy process. Now freezing okra? That’s another story.