I have more tomatoes than I can handle right now! I planted two plants each of Pantano Romanesco, a big red beautiful heirloom, and Golden Sunray, also an heirloom. I got all of these seeds from Baker Creek Heriloom Seeds this past winter and I am very pleased! Then I also have the volunteer tomato plant that my sister, Machell, gave me last spring. I am not sure what it’s called, but it is a little bigger than a golf ball, red and really tasty! I can’t can any tomatoes or juice or sauce right now because I don’t have any jars – yet. I have been dragging my feet because every time I go to buy them I am shocked at the price! But, buy them I must – next week.
In the meantime, I decided to dehydrate a batch, a la Mother Earth News Magazine (MEN). In this month’s MEN (August/September 2013) I found an article on an easy way to dry tomatoes (page 33), so I decided to try it before all of my tomatoes went to mush. I hate mushy tomatoes!
I quartered the tomatoes and placed them skin side down on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Easy enough. I even took a little time to scrape some of the jelly out of the nooks and crannies, thinking that would help them dry faster. In the article, MEN says to sprinkle with salt. I did not. I’m trying my best to stay away from as much salt as possible. The article also says you can sprinkle with olive oil and/or fresh herbs. I abandoned this idea also simply because I wanted to try the drying procedure first. If it works out, I have a lot of basil and some great olive oil I will drizzle on the next batch.
Then I placed the tomatoes in the oven at 250 for one hour, just as the article says to. After that, I cooled the temperature down to 170 degrees – the coolest setting possible in my oven – and left the tomatoes there for 3 hours. After 3 hours they weren’t dried to my satisfaction, so the next day I went ahead and placed them on cooling racks out in the sun for several hours. Does that mean I can call my tomatoes “sun dried”? 😉 Anyway, that did the trick!
Easy Peazy! Now I have sundried tomatoes ready for chicken and bacon pizza, soup, salads, pasta, just about anything! I am going to do this again, but next time I will try the olive oil and basil trick – maybe even some fresh oregano!
Now to find some inexpensive (is there such a thing?) canning jars to make some pasta sauce, tomato sauce and salsa! I am also looking into buying some of those tattler jar lids that are reuseable. They are also a bit on the pricey side, but when you consider that they can be used over and over again, I guess that compensates.
My last picture is of the tomato guard we have on duty in my tomato patch! Isn’t she pretty. From what I can gather, she is a Western Orb Spider. She is pretty big and at first I was quite startled by her size. Yes, she will bite and her bite can be painful, but I think I will just leave her as nature intended. I only wonder, however, if she is eating my pollinators!
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