Monday, November 12, 2012

The Last Bit of Summer: Preserved

 Having completely crossed over into autumn (finally, weather-wise, day-light-wise, and everything else beautiful that comes along with it) I know for sure that the flavors my garden provided me with in recent months has come to an end...sadly. In my haste to beat the dropping temperatures, I picked every green tomato left on the vines of my slowly wilting tomato bushes. I brought them in, placed them on a bench, flat and not touching each other, and hoped they would slowly ripen and fill my fall/winter days with the enticing flavors or a perfectly ripe tomato.

Since that day, feeling like so long ago, Cam and I have been enjoying fresh heirloom tomatoes for breakfast (on eggs:-), lunch, and dinner! But  as I gazed out at that tomato bench sitting in my garage, I've noticed how MANY tomatoes have decided to ripen at once. Now, I enjoy tomatoes, but even I have limits. I couldn't and can't keep up with them as the ripen and I can't bare to waste the bounty I was so blessed with - and knowing I'm out of canning jars and freezer space - I needed to come up with a new use for these beauties. I mentioned earlier I was going to try my hand at drying tomatoes. My first attempt failed but I wanted to try once more before I threw in the towl.

I pulled back out that beautiful piece of equipment my parents got in their first years of marriage....going on 35 years in March!!...and put it to work.

I sliced my tomatoes to about 1/4" thin and laid them out on the screen trays - designed for this particular dehydrator/smoker - turned the temperature to 130 degrees (respectively), turned on the fan, and let them go. I filled six trays of sliced tomatoes. After about 4 hours I would rotate the trays (moving them down consecutively) and removing the tomatoes when they were dry.

By the end of the day, I had successfully dried six sheets of sliced tomatoes - all slightly smoky since we've used this dehydrator for smoking things in the past - and ready to freeze. I've used a few in couscous and they are phenomenal! I love knowing I can preserve summer just a bit longer...we have all worked hard and diligently and deserve the chance to hold onto all we worked for!

How are you preserving summer? What have you found that works out best for you and your families needs? Share with us!! It's amazing to know we can help each other out...personal experience is how we learn!



  1. Hi Jen
    This is such a great way to preserve tomatoes. I have never thought about drying them but I'm definitely going to try it next year. I was also swimming in tomatoes this year and preserved mine by canning stewed tomatoes, salsa, and spaghetti sauce. I also made a bunch of tomato soup and froze it. I love reading your blog and think it's so fun to hear about all your gardening adventures as well as other things going on in your life. Gardening, canning, and cooking are some of my biggest hobbies too.

    I hope all is well with you and Cam and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

    Brittany (Haven) Donahue

    1. I am so familiar with spaghetti/pasta sauce, tomatoes, and salsa to preserve these beautiful fruits of late summer! They are so delighfully delicious in the middle of winter; opening a jar of sweet tomaotes - plain, salsa, or sauce - is exquisite! The tase is so much deeper than it is with store-bought tomatoes.

      We have been enjouing the dried tomatoes in couscous, quiona, and in bread! They are superb!! I hope you enjoy them as much!

      Keep experimenting and sharing!