My garden will never produce as many tomatoes as I’d like…even though I’m getting full bowlfuls every couple of days, it is never enough! Tomatoes are the perfect food. I adore them!
I’d love to someday grow enough tomatoes so I’d never have to purchase another can/carton of commercial tomatoes again, but that is not a reality this year, but I’m trying to make the best of what I have.
So, I have been learning about the many ways to preserve fresh garden produce for consumption in colder months.
I’ve made a lot of tomato sauce, sometimes with eggplant and peppers. I’m slow-cooking in the oven or in my crock pot. Then storing in freezer bags in my freezer.
I tried something new the other day and I think it’s going to be a favorite.
I was watching the Dehydration class over at breadbeckers.com and it inspired me to learn more about dehydration in the oven. I was thrilled to find out that my oven offers very low temperatures, as low as 100° so I experimented with a batch of cherry tomatoes.
It took over 24 hours, experimenting with different temperatures (135-150°) depending on the time of day – it’s helpful if you use an oven thermometer to make sure oven temps aren’t off. The tomatoes dried to little jewels of sugary-flavorful-goodness!
Then I spread them on a large plate, and flash-froze them, then bagged them in a quart freezer bag for freezer storage. I know it could be possible to maybe store in a jar, or in olive oil, but I figure that the freezer would be the safest method for now.
I finished drying a second batch yesterday morning, and they went into the freezer as well.
Next, I’m going to try some good ole fashioned canning! I haven’t decided if I’ll do a raw-pack or maybe stewed. I suppose I could try both!
I know I will not have enough of my own tomatoes, so I might be buying some “seconds” tomatoes at the local farm. One farm is selling 7 lbs for $5.99 while supplies last.
I’ve been pouring over canning cookbooks for the last week or so, trying to learn all I can (haha, no pun intended) and I hope that I love canning enough to keep doing it all year long. I have dreams of applesauce in the fall, and orange jam in the winter.