How To Confit Summer Produce To Preserve Tomatoes and Garlic for Months (Read: Well Into Fall)

Photo: Stocksy/ Jeff Wasserman
PSLs have made their way back to Starbucks, which can only mean one thing: Summer is officially over. Sigh. However, before you start reminiscing about the good ol’ days filled with fresh burrata salad served with thick slices of juicy heirloom tomatoes that defined summer 2022, we have a way to ensure that the fruit is much more than just a summertime fling, and it’s called confit.

Although our initial reaction to the dwindling supply of tomatoes as fall quickly approaches might be to buy every last one at the store and enjoy it in the immediate future, it might not be the best way to make the most out of one of our favorite fruits. Turns out that with a bit of help from a centuries-old cooking technique called confit, we can preserve fruits or veggies and all of the garlic benefits we know and love well past its summertime prime.

Confit comes from the French term “to preserve” and refers to the technique of slowly cooking foods in fat. This liquid submersion culinary method helps preserve the food for several months and can be applied to meats, fruits, or veggies. We're particularly partial to confit tomatoes and garlic, which are perfect for slathering over a slice of toasted baguette to enjoy with a glass of red wine.

What is confit?

As mentioned, confit comes from the French word “confire,” which means to preserve. Centuries ago, when refrigeration was unavailable, this cooking method helped keep food by slowly cooking it in a liquid inhospitable to bacterial growth. Nowadays, it’s not only a great solution to enjoy seasonal produce well after they’re out of season but also a simple way to add loads of flavor to some of your favorite foods.

Now, while confit might seem very similar to how you would fry a big batch of french fries—aka throwing them into a large vat of fat or oil—the trick is actually to regulate the temperature closely. When making any confit recipe, you’ll want to keep the temperature low at around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or potentially even lower, depending on the recipe). Meanwhile, deep frying usually occurs at much higher temperatures, between 325 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which yields a much different result in terms of texture and flavor.

How do you make tomato or garlic confit?

One of the most popular ways to apply this technique is with duck confit. However, fruits and vegetables, like pears, onions, and cherries, can also be preserved using this method. When it comes to summer produce, two of our favorite ways include lycopene-rich tomato confit and anti-inflammatory garlic confit. So, how to make each? Well, it’s actually quite simple.

For garlic, you’ll want to fully submerge peeled cloves in oil in a pan or pot and add flavoring ingredients like rosemary or thyme. Next, slowly cook the mixture over very low heat until the cloves are slightly golden and tender—the idea is *not* to fry them at high temperatures but rather to render them down at low heat. Aside from having super soft and creamy confit cloves perfect for spreading on crispy bread, you’ll also end up with delicious garlic and herb-infused oil that you can save for making vinaigrettes, drizzling over a luscious potato soup, or for making this delicious garlic confit over crispy rice recipe by TikToker @foodmymuse.

@foodmymuse My transformation into a #garlicgirl is complete with this #garlicconfit on #crispyrice & it might be your new addiction ???? my use of crispy rice will always be inspired by the one and only Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. #recipe #garlicrecipes ♬ Glimpse of Us - Joji

Next, to confit cherry tomatoes, simply swap out the garlic for tomatoes (or add them together with the allium) and cook them covered with oil over low heat until they burst and bubble ever so slightly, like in this TikTok video by @daenskitchen.

@daenskitchen Tomato confit #confit #tomatoconfit ♬ original sound - Daen Lia

Garlic confit recipe

Yields 15 servings

30 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 cup of olive oil
2 sprigs of thyme, optional
1 sprig of rosemary, optional

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the garlic, olive oil, and herbs. Cook for about two hours or until the cloves are golden and tender at about 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. To store the garlic confit, allow it to cool to room temperature and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can also store the mixture for about two months. Additionally, the oil can be used for drizzling or cooking in other recipes, too.

Reasons why garlic is worth the stinky breath, according to a registered dietitian:

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