Monthly Archives: June 2013

Preserving not Rotting

So many of my posts have been about the breaking down of material into compounds that are beneficial to the garden/orchard, this post is about the flip side of that process. The orchard is still in its infancy but has given me a few tasty morsels to whet my appetite for the bountiful harvest to come in future years, the garden is a bit of a shorter term dynamic though.  Tomatoes are producing well and while not quite bountiful enough to call for an adventure into canning there is a bit of excess. In my head tomato’s are too valuable to allow to leave in other way than through your digestive track (funny I love giving away eggs but aint nobody gettin my maters!) While harvesting in the 100+ heat last week the idea of sun-dried tomato’s popped in my head, I have no clue what inspired the idea but it seemed like a good one. After some research I discovered that tomato’s dried in a dehydrator are supposedly inseparable from those dried outside in the sun, the only difference being a distinct lack of the subtle flavor notes of fly shit.

A big meaty Roma Tomato

A big meaty Roma Tomato

I thought I had a nice picture of the large basket full of beautiful ripe tomato’s that had been harvested from my garden just waiting to be cut up and placed in the dehydrator. Apparently I got a bit distracted and taking that shot got overlooked. I do have a good excuse though, my second Granddaughter Avery Lynn was born last week and her pictures kinda took precedence.

Granny Tuey and Sweet Avery

Granny Tuey and Sweet Avery

My Awesome Son Mikey & his Exceptional Daughter Avery

My Awesome Son Mikey & his Exceptional Daughter Avery

The basket of maters contained Roma’s, Early Girls, Sweet 100’s, and grape tomato’s. The sweet 100’s did not make it into the dehydrator in fact I am still trying to figure out how they made it into the basket seeing as how my standard harvesting practice involves eating those wonderful little suckers as soon as they come off the vine. The grape tomato’s on the other hand are a still a disappointment , I didn’t like their funky after taste from last years crop but decided to give them a second chance. I found a different hybrid to plant along with the previous one hoping for a better outcome but must say I was disappointed. If anyone has had better results with these prolific little beasts I would sure appreciate some tips.

Roma Tomato's halved and ready to be dried

Roma Tomato’s halved and ready for drying

Quartered Early Girls

Quartered Early Girls

Halved Grape tomato's waiting for improvement?

Halved Grape tomato’s waiting for improvement?

I took a hint from Laura Rittenhouse’s Gardening Blog and left the skins and seeds intact, some sites recommended removing the seeds and “schmuts” before drying but I thought that I don’t do that before eating them fresh why would I take away part of the flavor that I am trying to concentrate? Laura’s post confirmed that I’m not the only one who kinda likes tomato seeds and skins in their sauce.

The Roma's really came out nice

The Roma’s really came out nice

The Early Girl's really shrunk up

The Early Girl’s really shrunk up

Tomato Raisins?

Tomato Raisins?

I haven’t tried them yet but have learned one or two lessons from this first run.

  1. The Roma’s definitely need a slit down the back of the skin
  2. Next time I will sprinkle them with just a little salt while on the trays about 2 hours before turning on the dehydrator
  3. Eat the early girls fresh

The Roma’s produced the best finished product by a wide margin and is it any wonder? I believe these tomato’s were developed for preserving. Resting after salting is to allow the salt to dissolve and get into the tomato’s before they form a skin, I ended up with salt crystals on the outside of the finished tomato’s. The Early Girls took a long time to dry and their more delicate flesh just kinda broke down rather than forming the expected leathery texture like the Roma’s.

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