Dealing with the crop

It is probably a couple of years since I wrote about the vegetable garden.  This is partly because I know my seasons are very different to most of my readers and so not very helpful for comparisons or advice.  Plus although the seasons vary I grow mostly the same crops every year.  However after I received so many comments about the plate of tomatoes I showed at the end of last Monday’s vase post, I thought a post about one method I use to conserve my tomatoes might be of interest.

I grow more than 25 different varieties of tomatoes – some I grow every year (Roma for making sauce to bottle) and others new to try to discover that perfect tomato flavour.

I have already made enough jars of sauce, mostly from the Roma but also a few jars made of yellow and orange varieties.

I have to admit that in past years I haven’t been very good about feeding my tomatoes, but this year they have been fed with Comfrey tea once a week since the beginning of July; it has made a noticeable difference, that and the wetter summer has meant all the tomatoes (not to mention the peppers) are much juicier than usual.

Faced with 2 more trays of Roma tomatoes I decided to dry some.

 

We were lucky enough to be given a dehydrator as a wedding present (my husband was a passionate collector of mushrooms and we collected and dried a lot of Porcini when we lived in England.  I think I may begin to use it more again now.

Roma Tomatoes grown from seed

Cut ready to have the seeds and liquid removed

Placed on the tray

The dehydrator set at 65°C

After about 6 hours the tomatoes had visibly shrunk.

Halfway through the process and the tomatoes have already reduced in size

After another couple of hours the tomatoes were flexible and slightly leathery.

By the end of the process there is more space on the trays than tomatoes

I decided to leave the tomatoes at this stage; they aren’t dry enough to store in a bag at this stage but they are reduced in volume hugely so I can dedicate some space for them in the freezer.  They are at the perfect stage to use in bread or focaccia or add to a sauce for a more intense flavour of tomato without the volume of liquid.

The dried tomatoes ready to freeze

Several kgs of tomatoes reduced to fit in a small bag

I used three trays full to put in a jar with some Syrian thyme and Oregano then covered them with olive oil

Do you store produce from your garden for later use?  How do you use your tomatoes?

 

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38 thoughts on “Dealing with the crop

  1. I have too many wild animals that ate my tomatoes at my current property, but at my old house I was able to grow enough tomatoes to make sauce. We plant veggies in late winter and tomatoes would be ready before summer.

    • I always like hearing about how seasons are so different in different parts of the world. I usually plant my tomatoes (as plants) out into the garden during April and they begin producing in June. This year I planted later because of the cool spring which means they will keep producing a little longer.

  2. I bet they taste delicious. I used to can 50 qts./yr. when my kids were small. Nowadays, I might can one batch of pts. We don’t use them all that much anymore, as my spouse has developed a sensitive stomach, alas.

  3. I’ve given up on growing vegetables, except for artichokes although even those didn’t do well in this especially dry year. If the tomatoes I’d grown in prior years looked half as good as yours, though, I’d definitely grow them.

  4. Christina grows 25 different varieties of tomatoes! Wonderful! They must all be delicious, so I like raw tomatoes in salad in summer. Thank you very much for the post of how to teach us to reduce the Roma tomatoes to very little to freeze them or store them in a jar with olive oil and spices (which are rich). I have not cultivated anything in the garden for three years, because of the pains that are increasing. If I got better I took note of adding Comfrey tea. Thank you very much for everything Christina has been very interesting. Take care. Greetings from Margarita.

  5. We stopped growing vegetables here because of the cats and pigeons! Tomatoes, in my experience, do better in the UK in a greenhouse but we dont have the space. Yours look so wonderful and with all that sunshine the flavour must be great. We buy sun dried tomatoes for adding that extra flavour as you suggest.

  6. Looks yummy!!! I find the older I get the less I care about preserving veg from the garden. I’ve done it all my life, but now at 65, I just don’t want the extra work. Next year, I will only be planting what I can eat and the rest will be flowers.

    • I’m the same age but I want to eat my crops and tomatoes are something I use all year so its worth the work now to have what I need during the year. Most things I just grow, harvest and eat.

  7. This was really interesting, Christina. I have borrowed a friend’s dehydrator to dry apples but have never dried tomatoes. Currently I make a lot if tomato chutney which I love, and freeze excess tomatoes, mostly just as they are but skinned. How does dehydrating affect the skin? I was interested to read that you remove seeds and liquid – basically just scooping out the insides? It would certainly be less messy for the dehydrator! I like the idea of having dried tomatoes to add to bread so will gve it a try, I think.

    • I always remove the seeds and liquid whatever I’m making, sauce, gazpacho etc, I find the flavour is so much better. Roma tomatoes (similar to San Marzano) have thick flesh with the seeds and liquid sort of separate so not difficult to eliminate. This week I dried some slices of a beefsteak orange tomato which has a great flavour. I sliced these but it was much messier. As long as you don’t over dry the tomatoes, they need to be leathery rather than crisp, the skins are good to eat. I took some of the ones I’d put under oil and seasoned with herbs to a party and everyone thought they were delicious.

  8. Mmmmm …… I don’t think that jar would last long here Christina. What an excellent way to use your surplus tomatoes 🙂 Is Syrian thyme za’atar or something different? Here has been the best summer I remember for my tomato crops. I only have a half a dozen plants and they are all growing outside. We are eating a small handful most days and will probably keep on top of them. The weather has changed now and we have unsettled weather for a couple of weeks or so with a fair amount of much needed rain. I think that if there are surplus unripe ones that I will make some chutney.

    • Yes za’atar, my husband got the seed when he traveled to Syria on business years ago and now it just pops up all over the garden and I leave plants that aren’t in completely the wrong place.

  9. The high heat and humidity always leads to diseased tomato vines by mid summer here. I have only a handful of tomatoes left on the vine. Comfrey tea? I never tried that! Something to remember next year! We eat our tomatoes about as fast as we can harvest them. I like to freeze those that escape immediate consumption.

    • Tomatoes don’t like humidity at all so it surprises me you can grow them well at all. I probably grow too many but that is really because I want to grow so many different varieties and have enough Roma to make sauce.

  10. The courgette and halloumi fritter recipe in my blog a few weeks back requires grated courgette. My food processor does it for me and I discovered recently that you can freeze the grated courgette in bags. Cut a corner of the bag to defrost and squeeze out as much water as possible before following the recipe. I have several bags of courgettes now frozen to use over the Winter months.

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