Too Many Tomatoes in the Garden…
…Leads to Dried Tomatoes
At least, at my house this weekend, it did! There are, after all, only so many tomato salads you can eat without getting burnout. I’m not thrilled with canning in this heat, and while it may seem that having the oven on in the heat is the same as canning, let me say that an oven at 250 degrees is not as bad as bending over a hot, boiling pot of tomatoes and canning water.
So – dried tomatoes.
I looked for recipes online, but a lot of them seemed like a lot of work. Well, okay – they called for scraping out seeds and pulp, leaving just the rind and the flesh attached. I like my dried tomatoes with heft, and I didn’t want to do the scraping. So I kept looking for a recipe that would suit me.
The sun-dried tomato recipe looked interesting, but I didn’t have screens I could use, didn’t want to worry about bugs, and didn’t want to be drying tomatoes all week. I had just the weekend.
Martha Stewart to the Rescue!
I found the recipe I was looking for at a Martha Stewart site. Not only did it explain how to make the tomatoes, but it also showed how to store them – in a jar, with olive oil and herbs. (I didn’t have any fresh basil, though – mine is all too little. So I used dried basil.)
So, I picked tomatoes, washed them, dried them, cut them in half (large cherry tomatoes, mostly, and then lots of tiny cherry tomatoes). Then I sprinkled sugar, dried basil, pepper and salt over them, popped them in the oven, and let them do their drying-out thing.
As the afternoon went on, my house started smelling like yummy, professionally-made tomato soup. Rich and meaty and tomatoey – oh my! Totally delightful. After several hours – 5 or 6, I don’t remember – I took the trays out. They were browned on the edges, but ooh – tasted like a blast of tomato in the mouth and a little crunchy. Totally addicting. I believe the hubs ate a full quarter of the smaller cherry tomatoes that I’d done.
I did two – or heck, maybe three? – batches yesterday, and I’ve done one batch so far today (with the other batch still in the oven). I’ve got four jars of tomatoes put up, with more to come. And LOTS more tomatoes still on the vine!
Considering how expensive sun-dried tomatoes are in the store, I think I know what I’ll be doing every summer that we grow tomatoes.
On one of the sites I checked on yesterday (I think it was the Martha site, not sure) a commenter said they let the tomatoes cool, then froze them on the tray singly before putting the frozen tomatoes in a zip lock baggie. She said they were great to use in stews and sauces (plus you don’t get the oily taste if that’s not what you want). But the hubs wanted that olive oil. I used a Mediterranean mixed olive oil that’s available at Costco – we buy it by the gallon I think, so I have a lot of it, and it’s not super expensive. But I’m willing to bet that after several months, the oil will taste divine, with tomato, pepper, and basil flavors. A terrific base for a salad dressing.
But now, after so many dried tomatoes, I feel the need for something fresh. Like a tomato tart. So as the sun goes down, I’m off to the store for some puff pastry – because that’s something I doubt I’ll ever have the patience to make at home.
Do you like sun-dried tomatoes? Have you ever made your own? What is the most yummy thing you have ever made with tomatoes?
Until next time, cheers – and be good to one another!