Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

Posts Tagged ‘dehyrating tomatoes

Turkey Tracks: Dehydrator Days

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Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2013

Dehydrator Days

 

The hum of the food dehydrator is a constant sound in my kitchen these days.

The earth and the vegetable gardens are pouring forth the most amazing bounty.

I dried the mushrooms shown in an earlier post.  They filled all the trays of the dehydrator.

Dehydrator 1

But I also am drying cherry tomatoes to use in salads all year around.  These little nuggets are as sweet as candy and are so appreciated in the white cold of winter.  They don’t taste like any bought dried tomato you’ve ever eaten.

Dehydrator 2

My garden is producing a healthy crop of Sun Golds.  Hope’s Edge, my CSA, will provide some cherry tomatoes to dry.  And Susan McBride’s Golden Brook Farm, just up the hill from me, has luscious cherry tomatoes.

I also have discovered that drying zucchini–and even excess cucumbers–is a great way to preserve them.  Grating and freezing zucchini does not work so well.  The flesh gets slimy and bitter after a bit of time.  But the dried disks reconstitute beautifully if thrown into a soup or stew about five minutes before it is done.  Cut the BIG zukes into smaller pieces…

Dehydrator 3

I am also blanching and freezing the beans that are coming in like crazy now.  It’s easy enough to snap them, rinse them, drop them into boiling water for a few minutes (don’t let them get too cooked), put them into a baggie, and freeze them.

Beans

I picked up fresh blueberries from Hope’s Edge last week.   So I made jam from the uneaten and frozen berries from last summer.

Bueberries

Blueberry jam is easier than blackberry jam since you don’t have to pick them or deseed them.  Otherwise, the process is much the same.  I do grate the rind of one lemon into the pot–and add the juice.  Lemon perks up the blueberry flavor.  Blueberry jam needs a bit more sugar than the blackberries as the blueberries don’t have as much pectin.  This jam is a bit looser as a result, but that’s ok.  It’s great over ice cream, in smoothies, over pancakes, and so forth–and the flavor is lovely.  It tends to get stiffer in the cold of the refrigerator.

***

One of the deep pleasures of my life is harvesting and preserving the food that the earth offers us.  It is the most satisfying feeling to know that I have these “assets” in my pantry to be enjoyed all winter and into the long Maine spring when we are so hungry for fresh greens.

But, let’s face it.  Feeding people really good food–and eating it myself–is one of the things that I most like to do.

Turkey Tracks: Drying Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

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Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2011

Drying Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

Last year for my birthday on March 17th, Margaret Rauenhorst gifted me with a quart Mason jar full of dried cherry tomatoes.

March 17th is just about the time everyone up here in the snowy north (Maine) gets really hungry for green growing things, like dandelion greens sprouting as the snow recedes.  We become filled with anticipation for what summer gardens will bring, especially as the new seed catalogs with all their glorious pictures arrived back in January.

We inhaled Margaret’s dried cherry tomatoes, each the size of a penny and tasting like dense, chewy candy.  We mostly put them on salads, made with greens grown in my neighbor’s new hoop house–Susan McBride Richmond of Golden Brook Farm.

I determined on the spot to plant a lot of cherry tomatoes to dry for next winter.  My favorites are Sun Golds, which are, sadly, hybrid plants.  (I like to plant heritage seeds.)   And, right now, out in the garden they are ripening, each like a tiny gold sunspot hiding in the green tomato leaves.  The best way to eat them, bar none, is to pick them off the vine and eat them as you stand there in the sunshine.  Or, the rain.  Or, the dusk, Or the fog.  Or, whenever and however you pause to savor something delicious!

Here they are, filling up my harvesting/mushroom basket a few days ago.  They’re still a bit green, but will ripen to a deep gold color in the kitchen.  Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and lend themselves to containers on an apartment balcony in a city.  They can be tucked away in an odd sunny corner of the yard, too.  (We had two days of rain, so we got a BIG zuke.)

Drying them in the dehydrator has been a bit more involved than I had anticipated–in that it takes rather a long time for each one to dry out.  And, because they all ripen at differing times, I’ve been putting them in, one by one, rather than in whole groups.  In about 2 whole days and nights, I’ve only got about 10 dried enough to put in a Mason jar.  They’re somewhat sticky as they dry, and I don’t know if they will mold or not, so likely I’ll store them in the refrigerator so I don’t lose them–especially after all this energy has been expended!  Maybe I should be cutting them in half???

Here you can see my dehydrator working away with one tray inside.  (It came with…4 or 5 stackable trays and costs about $30.)  And, now, you can see the beautiful sunny gold of these tomatoes.

 And, now you can see what they look like drying inside the dyhydrator:

Aha!

I checked Barbara Kingsolver’s ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, since I remembered a recipe in there for dried cherry tomatoes.  Camille Kingsolver does cut them in half and puts them skin side down on the tray.  And, here’s Camille Kingsolver’s recipe, found on page 295.  (For this or other recipes, you can go online to www.AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.)

 DRIED TOMATO PESTO

 Put the following ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add a little water if it seems sticky, but the mixture should be thick enough to spread on a slice of bread:

2 cups dried tomatoes, 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (crispy, please), 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cut grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup dried basil, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons balsamic or other good vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

BASIL OIL 

So, ok.  For the basil, I think I’d defrost and use some of my basil oil, taken from A YEAR IN MY KITCHEN, Skye Gyngell–which has been recently updated with American measurements (she’s British).  Basically, you put a LOT of basil in a food processor (3 bunches or more), 3-4 cloves of garlic, some salt, and start the processor.  Drizzle in olive oil until you have a smooth paste/sauce.  Freeze in those very small Mason jars (1/2 cup?) and enjoy all winter.  This oil is especially nice served alongside meat–grilled steak, roasted chicken, etc.