Preserving summer: Crock pot cherry tomato sauce

In the community garden where I work, yellow pear tomatoes grow abundantly. They don’t seem to be terribly popular, though, with many people besides me.

I adore them. The plants produce abundant fruit that ripens quickly. The delights of popping them straight into the mouth from the vine are well known and do not need to be recounted here. And it’s far less devastating to find one infested cherry tomato in a cluster of otherwise-fine fruit than it is to anticipate harvesting that one big slicing tomato you’ve been nursing along, only to find that on the back side of the fruit there’s a huge, oozing hole edged with gray-green fur.

yellow pear tomatoes

I came home last week with two healthy pints of fruit, to add to the remainder of the two quarts I had from last week which we haven’t finished yet. The tomatoes will never be as good as they are right now–unless, perhaps, they’ll save in a sauce?

I’ve never tried making a sauce with cherry tomatoes. Time for an experiment.

I should note that I have no experience in canning. That’s a project for another season, after much study on food safety. But freezing is the one technique of food preservation in which I feel competent, and I have a big freezer.

Recipe: Crock pot cherry tomato sauce

This recipe is easiest in a crock pot or slow cooker, but I’m also providing regular-oven instructions.

In a medium saucepan, I warmed about three tablespoons of olive oil. To that, I added three tablespoons of chopped organic garlic from a jar. I love garlic. Next year, it will be my home-grown garlic, but we all must start someplace. If you don’t like garlic as much as I do, just add a little less.

step 1: olive oil and garlic

I washed and capped the tomatoes, and sliced them in half. I didn’t bother to peel them (can you imagine?). I then added the tomatoes to the pan, covered it, and left it in a warm oven (250-275 F, 121-135 C) for two hours to slowly melt together.

In a slow cooker: add all ingredients to the crock, cover, and cook on high for one hour or low for two. Maybe keep an eye on the moisture level if you cook on high, as cooking time and temperature can vary depending on your individual slow cooker. You’ll know when it’s done when everything has turned into a delicious pulpy mush:

fresh basil slivered into sauce

For the final 30 minutes, I snipped in a tablespoon’s worth of the last fresh basil leaves I’ll see this year, and stirred in a pinch of coarse salt.

final reduced tomato sauce

This sauce is glorious, and utterly simple. When it cooled, I poured it into a small, clean glass jar and froze it. I hope it tastes just as good in January!

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