Tuesday, May 6, 2014

HOME GROWN TOMATOES


Although we don’t have a need for a big vegetable garden with the kids all grown and gone, I still find myself planting carrots and cucumbers and spinach in my flower beds.  We like garden veggies even though those we get at the grocery store are almost as good.

 EXCEPT for tomatoes.  There is just no comparing a flavorless, hard grocery store tomato to a sun ripened juicy ripe beauty still warm from the summer sun. 

The problem becomes what to do with the extras which accumulate after we’ve eaten our fill and given a bunch away.   I’ve canned them, juiced them, frozen them and sauced them and have always decided—more trouble than it’s worth.  

Then DH decided to try putting them in our food dehydrator.  Although it took quite a while to dry the juice out, they had a concentrated flavor and color very much like the super expensive sun dried tomatoes in gourmet cooking.  Plus they kept for months and months just tossed in a zip-lock bag ready to break up and sprinkle in spaghetti or pizza sauce or just eat like chips.

 Now I needed to grow more tomatoes.  So this spring I ripped out a few yards of lawn and added room for five more tomato plants.

I have to put the baby plants in little wall-o-water greenhouses until the middle of June to keep them safe from frost.

 Barring some kind of weird weather we should have lots and lots of tomatoes in a few months to eat fresh and dry for later.

There are plenty of places on the internet with info on how to dry tomatoes.

TOMATO PREPARATION

Cut out the stem and scar and the hard portion of core lying under it.   Slice the tomato into quarter inch horizontal slices. 



 Arrange the pieces on each rack of a food dehydrator so that air can circulate, preferably with the pieces not touching each other. Sprinkle the tomatoes with sea salt, kosher salt and/or some spices like basil if you prefer.

Turn the dehydrator on and let it run for eight to ten hours.  Turn the slices over about half way through the process.   If your food drier has a thermostat, set it for 140 degrees F.

The amount of time it takes depends on the water content of the tomatoes, the thickness of the slices, and how well the air is able to circulate around them. When done, the tomatoes should be flexible, not brittle. The pieces will be leathery with a deep red color, without feeling sticky.

Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature   then put them in zip-lock bags. Don't overfill the bags.  Squeeze out the extra air. Store the bags in a very cool, dry place.



9 comments:

susan m hinckley said...

You just made me hungry for summer! I wish I had one of those. Right. Now.

Alica said...

I'm still kicking myself for getting rid of the food dehydrator that I'd picked up at a yard sale! How many time could I have made some really yummy things, like this, if only I'd kept it?!

Joanne Noragon said...

We can't look forward to tomatoes until late August. We don't have their tiny toes in the cold, cold ground yet. It's so unfair!

Carla said...

I'm glad you figured out what to do with your extras. :) I SO wish I had that problem. It gets so blasted hot here, that tomato plants give up by July.

Leenie B said...

Joanne: We won't be eating our tomatoes until August either. In fact it may be September. My tomato plants went in the ground early this year because I got impatient and planted my seeds inside too soon. It was either put them in the cold, cold ground or move them into bigger pots and babysit them inside for a few more weeks. So now I've gambled against the odds of a killing frost.

Terry and Linda said...

I'm getting ready to plant my yard...and like you I must have some home raised tomatoes!!!

♥ღLinda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Val said...

Don't let the tomato hornworms get 'em! I still have nightmares about frolicking out to the garden on my unicorn, under a sky of rainbows, all excited to pick a fat ripe tomato for supper to go with my fried pork chops...and grabbing a handful of hornworm on the oozing back side of my precious tomato.

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TALON said...

You are so right about the home grown flavors. Nothing beats it! I love those greenhouses. I've never seen any like those. I'll have to see if I can get them here...we generally have to worry about frost here, too, until early June. Hope you had a glorious Mother's Day, Leenie! Sorry for my absence of late. Work is extremely hectic at the present time.