Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Tomato Strategy

The tomato deluge continues. As of last night we surpassed 400 lbs of tomatoes harvested. These 13 heirlooms I picked yesterday totalled 17 pounds--the largest was 2 lb,. 3 oz.
Last week when we had our largest, most perfect heirlooms at the Farmers Market, a professional tomato grower kindly advised us in that heirloom tomatoes should always be placed stem side down because they ripen from the bottom and as they ripen the blossom end cannot support the top. Who knew?
Here are the varieties we are growing, all started from seed except for the stray grape and the yellow plum: (from top left) Purple Cherokee, Gold Medal, Brandywine, Early Girl(?), Black From Tula, Celebrity, Moby Grape, Isis candy, Sungold, Tigerella, Yellow Plum.
The cherry tomatoes are so prolific and so delectable, but you can really only eat a pint or two per person per day! So,now I have been drying them in a food dehydrater I bought about 20 years ago at a garage sale. It was old even then but it still works great. It is a simple metal cabinet with four drawer/shelves and a heating element in the bottom. The shelves have holes so the warm air can flow up through. The fruits or veggies are placed cut side down on a piece of screen on the shelf. Produce on the bottom shelf dries faster than the top, so I rotate the shelves during drying.
The drying time varies by the size of the fruit. I really like drying the tigerella tomatoes, which are 2-3-inch diameter. They take about 24 hours to get to the leathery stage. They are also incredibley tasty at this half-dried stage - the flavor is so intense - but they must be stored in the refrigerator unless totally dried.
I store the dried tomatoes in glass jars and add a few to spaghetti or pizza sauce, chili and other tomato dishes. Long ago our friend Maureen introduced us to dried tomatoes at a picnic (a probably the same year I got the food dehydrater)when she made this sandwich, which is still a family favorite:

Tomato Pesto Picnic Sandwich

Slice a loaf of crusty French baguette (or Rog's sourdough baguette) in half the long way. Spread the bottom half with cream cheese and the top half with pesto. On the bottom, layer sliced sundried tomatoes (can soak them in a a little warm water for a few minutes if too chewy), a bit of shredded parmesan, romaine lettuce leaves and a twist of black pepper. Replace the top, slice the loaf into diagonal sandwiches and secure each with a decorative toothpick.
Yum! Sounds like a good supper plan...


Cadence said...

mom, those dried tomatoes look great!

Becky said...

That's why the farmers at the farmer's market always have their tomatoes upside down! :) Thanks for explaining that. I'll be sure to do that with my tomatoes too.

Catalina said...

Nice tomatoes!
I just put 8 pounds of yellow plum tomatoes into my dehydrator.
But I'm running out of preserving ideas!
The tomatoes just keep coming and coming.
I really like your dehydrator - NICE!

Sue said...

Thanks for the storage tip. Also, I'm glad to see someone using an old dehydrator like mine! We haven't used it for years, and I was wondering if it would be safe to use. Seeing that yours works, I'll have to try it when I know we'll be around.

joey said...

Yum ... a gal after my own heart! You have a beautiful blog ... delighted to stop by for a visit!