how to make ten dollars last six months

Someday I’ll learn canning. And when I do, I’ll get over this fear I have of poisoning Myron or myself with the results. In the meantime, I freeze things. And when I say things, I really mean the only things I bother preserving from the summer bounty: corn, berries, and tomatoes. The corn and berries are simple, and I’ve heard you can throw whole tomatoes into the freezer if you’re going to make sauce out of them eventually, but they take up too much space. And, um, that bushel of tomatoes I showed you a little while ago? That’s way, way, way too much space. There are still only two of us here! And in the meantime, we’ve eaten a lot of roasted tomato soup and more than a few Gruyère grilled cheese sandwiches.

I’m actually running out of pans, so I had to resort to the nonstick pizza pan to keep the flow of tomatoes going. This batch is not peeled, seeded, or anything! Just really ripe and hefty romas/plums, with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and a mix of a little thyme, rosemary, and summer savory. One of the other trays included two heads of garlic, treated the same way. These stayed in the oven at 250 for about four to five hours, and sometimes you have to remove the littlest tomatoes if they get too wrinkly. For this batch, I still want some moisture in there.

To make soup out of these, I put a bunch of the roasted tomatoes into a medium pot with water or light broth (not stock) to cover. Squeeze some of the softened garlic out of its papery covers, and add a big shallot. Bring to a boil and simmer about fifteen minutes, and then puree. It won’t be silky smooth unless you’ve removed the seeds and skins in advance, but the rustic texture doesn’t bother me in the least. You can gild the lily with cream or milk, but it’s not necessary; the sweetness of the tomatoes and the deep garlic flavor is enough for me.

Um, speaking of gilding the lily. There’s smoked Gouda and some cilantro on there. Good thing my grilled cheese are tiny little things.

Two more ways to get that box emptied: Tomato puree, which I keep in a flat freezer bag. Because it makes a nice flat hard block, it’s easy to break off chunks of it to throw into vegetable soup (edit: oooh, or a vegetable curry!) over the winter, and we eat a lot of that here. You can pour it into an ice cube tray, too. Finally, I’m doing two triple batches of marinara. I KNOW. But one of them is this one from Bella Eats, with bacon and garlic. I can cook two pots of marinara while more tomatoes slow-roast in the oven. The freezer will be groaning by the time I’m done, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only complaint I’ll hear.