Sunday, September 20, 2009
Too many tomatoes
My tomato plants have gone crazy--they are overflowing with toms at various stages of ripeness. On Saturday I picked over 10 lbs. of ripe fruit and had no idea what to do with them and no time to do it in.
I turned to a new favorite book, "The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food" by Janet Chadwick, and found a great solution to my dilemma: Sun Dried Tomatoes.
Technically they weren't sun-dried, not enough heat in the sun to that here, I dried them in my dehydrator. The only time it took was lifting the dehydrator down from it's high shelf and slicing the toms into 1/8" slices, easy! (It is helpful and time saving to have a nice sharp knife that slides through your tomatoes.) Simply place the slices on the dehydrator shelves, turn it on to 140 degrees and let it go. 8 hours later go back to check on the toms, flip them over and let continue dehdrating another 8-10 hours.
If I wanted to be done with them right then I could just package them in a jar or ziploc but I wanted them to be just like the sun-dried tomatoes you get in the store--packed in olive oil. It only took me an extra 10 minutes and the end product is fantastic! This is what I did:
Boil water in a tea kettle. Place all dried tomatoes in a bowl. Pour boiling water over tomatoes to cover. Let toms sit in water no more than 30 seconds and then drain through a sieve or colander. Stuff all partially rehydrated tomatoes into a clean jar layering with the occassional leaf of freshly cut and cleaned basil and 1 clove of garlic. Pack to within 1/4" of the top of the jar. Pour olive oil into the jar to cover all ingredients. Use a knife or chop sticks to carefully poke down to the bottom of the jar, along the sides, to release trapped air. Add more oil as necessary to cover. Tightly cap jar.
As long as the oil is covering the ingredients it is shelf stable and will not mold but if you are worried put it in the refrigerator (the oil will solidify in the fridge but will liquefy again by placing out on the counter for a short while). When your tomatoes are gone be sure to use the left-over, tomato/basil flavored oil for something yummy!