Preserved Tomatoes in Olive Oil

tomatoes, olive oil and spices
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  • Total: 5 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 hrs
  • Yield: 1 pan (18 servings)

Tomatoes are best in the summer—bright red, juicy, and full of flavor. Unfortunately, when the colder months arrive, many of the tomatoes at the market are pink, dry, and bland. Luckily, there is a way to enjoy the tomato's sweetness throughout the winter by preserving them in olive oil. Storing tomatoes in olive oil is much easier and faster than sun-drying them. And although dried tomatoes' flavor is enhanced, they are not ideal to use in recipes that require additional cooking. Preserved tomatoes in olive oil can be added to sauces, stews, and recipes calling for canned tomatoes; they are also delicious served as a topping over grilled fish or chicken, and as an appetizer with burrata and crostini.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes (washed and patted dry)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Optional: 6 sprigs rosemary
  • Optional: 6 sprigs thyme
  • Optional: 6 sprigs oregano
  • Optional: 8 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cups olive oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 175 F/80 C.

  3. Remove the stems of the tomatoes and cut the tomatoes in half.

  4. In a ceramic or glass baking dish, place the tomatoes side by side, cut-side-up. They should fit together snugly but not overlap.

  5. Sprinkle the tomatoes with sea salt. 

  6. If using, sprinkle with the herbs of your choice and the crushed garlic.

  7. Add the olive oil. The oil should cover about 2/3 of the depth of the tomatoes. Depending on your ceramic dish, you might not need the whole 2 cups or you might need a little more.

  8. Place the dish in the oven and slow cook the tomatoes for 3 to 5 hours, until they have shrunk and are blistered. The exact time will depend on the size of the tomatoes you use.

  9. Allow to cool completely. Transfer the tomatoes and the oil to glass jars or other airtight, well-sealed, non-metal containers. 

  10. Enjoy!

Tips

  • If you don't have a suitable ceramic or glass dish at hand, use a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. You'll need about 3 tablespoons of olive oil for every 2 large tomatoes you prepare. Take care that the oil covers all their surfaces, then bake as you would if you had used a dish. 
  • You can use zip-lock freezer bags instead of containers for storage. Force out all the excess air before sealing them. You can also vacuum-seal the tomatoes if you have the proper equipment.  If you seal them in a container with as little air as possible, they'll keep up to a year in the pantry and up to 18 months if you freeze or refrigerate them. 
  • If it's not your goal to save your tomatoes for months until the next harvest, you can skip the baking and simply infuse the tomatoes in the oil. If you forego the garlic, salt, and herbs, the tomatoes will last in your fridge for a few weeks. If you do add the garlic and herbs, use the tomatoes within a week.