See these tomatoes? These are tomatoes I did NOT grow in my garden. Even though I have 21 tomato plants growing in my back yard, I haven't harvested a single tomato all summer. NOT ONE. This has officially been the coldest, grayest, most gloomy summer ever, and I have hardly a thing ripe in my garden, other than pickles, even though it's nearly mid-August.
If you happen to hail from somewhere other than the promise land, then you may not know that in Southern California, and particularly in the beach cities, we usually experience what we call "June Gloom" during the first few weeks of the summer. It's overcast and cool, and on particularly heavy days in can even sprinkle a little bit of rain. It usually clears up by July 4th and everyone spends the rest of the summer lying around scantily clad and eating gelato, riding beach cruisers, and getting enviably tan. This summer, we have all been bundling up in parkas and wondering if the sun will ever shine again.
So I didn't grow these tomatoes. The weather? She is not so cooperative this summer. I am only a tiny little bit cranky about this.
I don't know about you, but I have of sort of devotion to fire roasted diced tomatoes. I love them with the burning love of a thousand suns. Whenever a recipe calls for canned tomatoes, my heart leaps just a little bit because I am just so! in! Love! with that smokey, caramelized yumminess. Lately, though, we have been forgoing many recipes calling for canned anything, because a new study has shown that bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in the plastics used to line the interior of food cans, leaches into food. BPA is an estrogen mimicker and an endocrine disruptor, and can be especially harmful for babies and young children. It is associated with cancers, early puberty, low sperm count, infertility, heart disease, obesity, and developmental problems such as ADD. It has been banned from baby and toddler bottles in 5 states, and legislation for a similar ban is working its way through California's political machine even as I type this. If you or your children consume canned and packed foods on a regular basis, you are likely exposing yourself and your children to BPA, and in amounts that are high enough to affect your family's health. Scary, right?
Canned food? We don't really eat it anymore. And yes, I could buy the fancy organic canned tomatoes in the enamel lined can from the health store, and I do buy then when I need some canned tomatoes in a pinch. But the health food store is on the other side of town, and making the extra trip can be a bit of a hassle, and OMG it almost gives me a heart attack to pay $5 for a can of tomatoes. Plus, how cool is it to make your own?? Super cool.
You could can these the traditional way (I give directions below), freeze them, or just make small batches, store them in the fridge, and eat them as a summer treat. They are fantabulous on top of salmon. Whatever you decide to do, there couldn't be a easier, cheaper, or healthier way to make your own fire roasted, diced tomatoes. BPA-free and all :)
Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
lemon juice (optional)
Preheat grill or broiler. Halve tomatoes or slice into thick wedges. Scrape seeds out with a spoon or the tip of your finger (I forgot to do this for this batch, so there are lots of seeds in the photos).
Grill or broil tomatoes, until they are softened and slightly charred. Remove from heat, and let cool. Remove skins - they should just peel right off, easy.
Pack into sterilized canning jar, and add 1 TBS of lemon juice for every cup of tomatoes (this is to make sure the ph level of the jars is correct, given the offchance there are some botulism spores in your jars. If you are freezing your tomatoes or planning on consuming them right away, you can skip this step).
Add a little water so the jars are full up. Screw the lids on the jars, and process in a water bath (boil in a pot with water 1" over the tops of the jars) for 40 minutes. Remove jars from water, and let cool. If the jars have sealed properly, the jar lids will dimple down, and they can be stored in your pantry all winter long, up until next summer, when you get to make some more with next tomato crop. Enjoy!