A MONTH OF PUTTING UP THE HARVEST - Day 3

 

Tomato tomato tomato tomato tomato tomato tomato. All around me these days there are tomatoes. They are fresh, they are juicy, they are plump, they are delicious, they are plentiful, and I feel this urgent need to somehow retain this brief snapshot of summer sun and heat and flavour that it is all I do, it seems, is figure out ways to keep that tomato lovin going all year round.

Enter the dehydrated tomato. Mes amies, this couldn't be any easier. Whether you have a dehydrator or not, this takes energy at the onset but keeps in a glass jar in your pantry for months and I'm sure years, although I've never been able to keep them around for that long before gobbling them up. This is rocket science. Pay very close attention.

THE HOW-TO: Wash tomatoes, some say in a vinegar solution, but even that's a bit too much work for me. (Notice a theme? I'm a low maintenance kinda gal.) In the water they go. And drip dried. And then sliced in rings, about an inch thick or so. The trick here is to get them to be about all the same thickness. If you are like me and are tomato-obsessed, you may benefit from having a specific tomato knife, or at the very least sharpen that knife before you get into your tomatoes. Or use a serrated one, that works too. Again, I did these with roma tomatoes as they are more meaty, and smaller in size once dehydrated, they're easier to get in to the glass jars. But you could do this with any kind of tomato, I'm sure cherry tomatoes would be super fun!

Once they are sliced, layer them on your dehydrator screens or on your cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving a bit of space around each round. I don't know why. Because I think they may end up sticking together maybe. 

If you're using a dehydrator, go ahead and pop those screens in place and turn your dehydrator on at 105F. Anything dehydrated under 118F retains the live enzymes, so that when you eat them later, they will be closer to the raw tomato you had back in the heat of August. They pack a higher nutritional punch. If you're using an oven, dial in to the lowest temperature you can, and pop that door open to keep it as low as possible. Same as yesterday, low and slow wins the race.

When they are the texture of a sun-dried tomato, you have your prize. That's it. I store them in plastic bags or glass jars, depending on the amount and space I have. 

 Dehydrated roma tomatoes. This is rocket science, it's quite complicated. #harvest2015

Dehydrated roma tomatoes. This is rocket science, it's quite complicated. #harvest2015

You'll know they're dry when they are dry. (That's the rocket science part.) If you're able to kinda squeeze them (which, to be honest, the ends will be the last ones to dry up) then they're not dry enough yet. I usually check every few hours, and when it's just those meatier ends that are left to dry up, I put the rest away and keep those pieces in the dehydrator/oven to finish up the job. And tuck away in plastic bags or glass jars until you're ready to use them.

Ways to use them up: rehydrate briefly and toss in pasta sauces or curries or salads, use them minced to sop up extra liquid in a sauce or sauté you'd rather have a bit drier; throw them in soups or on top of pizzas. Throw them in omelettes or frittatas! Blitz them in your coffee grinder to make tomato powder which will add a depth and zing to everything! Or rehydrate and make a tomato pesto by adding garlic, some basil or oregano, pumpkin seeds, romano cheese and olive oil, S+P. Or tell us what you're planning to make with these morsels.

And incidentally, keep your eyes peeled at garage sales for dehydrators, or at your favourite local goodwill or VV Boutique, they pop up every now and then.  No need to spend many hard earned dollars on a brand new model, I adore mine and it's not the one the cool kids have. And I love it all the same.

AGAIN. GO PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD WILLYA?