Each spring, I get excited about planting one of my all-time favorite vegetables, which is really a fruit, the humble tomato. While it took a while for the plants to get going this spring, now they seem to be taking over the yard!
My favorite new variety I am growing this year is the “Bumblebee”, a small, almost metallic green to reddish striped cherry tomato. Not only are these tasty little globes beautiful to look at, but they are really yummy as well. Another favorite of mine is “Juliet”, which produces an incredible amount of tasty, red miniature Roma-like tomatoes. Then there is the Italian heirloom, the German Queen, a most gorgeous to look at (and of course eat) Silvery Fir Tomato plant, and a couple of old-fashioned slicers.
Anyway, we’ve been eating all kinds of tomato dishes around here lately. Then I went to the farmers market and came home with another 50 pounds of tomatoes!! That’s a lot of tomatoes, you might think. And I’d have to agree.
Long ago I learned that taking a little extra time during the harvest season is a great way of making a double or triple recipe when all this wonderful produce is at its best. It will be a welcome reminder and big taste of summer when the weather gets colder during fall and winter.
Every summer, I dehydrate tomatoes, slow roast some with fresh herbs and garlic, cook them into salsa and freeze some cherry tomatoes whole, to use later in the year.
My tomato preserving method has worked really well for our family all these years. Until, I noticed another post on Foodinjars! The recipe that caught my eye this time, was for marinated dehydrated tomatoes. Having a dehydrator definitely makes it easier, but you could probably improvise by using your oven on the lowest setting. I did a small batch, and was amazed at how delicious they turned out. Once the tomatoes are mostly dry, you put them into a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer. Then, when you need a handful of dried tomatoes, you take the needed amount out and put the rest back into the freezer. The olive oil in the marinade seems to keep them from sticking together.
If there are only two things you do in the kitchen this summer, make and freeze some pesto, and make a large batch of these tomatoes! Then, when the winter blues hits you one day, open the freezer, and bring the bright summery flavor of fragrant basil and real tomato flavor right into your kitchen!
Here’s the recipe:
- 5 pounds of tomatoes
- 1 cup good quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
Wash the tomatoes and slice them into wedges, about 1/2 inch thick.
Put them into a large bowl.
Put the rest of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is finely chopped.
Pour the marinade into the bowl with the tomatoes.
Mix gently, cover the bowl and let them marinade for a few hours.
Next, get your dehydrator out and pack the trays tightly with the tomatoes.
They will shrink quite a bit while drying, so don’t worry about over crowding them.
Temperature should be set around 135°, and it will probably take around 24 hours.
Check them regularly after 15 hours or so in the dehydrator.
If you are using the oven, select a really low temp and just keep a close eye on them.
They won’t have quite the same texture, but will be just as tasty.
When the tomatoes are dry, but also still a tiny bit moist, let them cool.
Then place them into freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible and put them into the freezer, right next to your pesto! 😉
Don’t throw out the marinade! It makes a great salad dressing for chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and a little feta cheese.