Now there only so many tomatoes you can eat in a salad and when you can buy them for literally a few pennies then NOW is the time to think about turning them into something you can lay down and keep. I frequently make chutneys, jams and other preserves and today I’d like to tell you how I make Sun-dried tomatoes for a snip of the supermarket price!
To make a pound (or roughly half a kilo) of sun-dried tomatoes, you need eight pounds (four kilos). Normally sun-dried toms are expensive, but by using cheap ripe fresh tomatoes I’m utilising the glut.
Cut your tomatoes lengthways into four pieces. Place on a wire rack, sprinkle with salt and lay in the sun to dry. If you can cover with a wire food protector to keep bugs off, then good. Wire mesh is easily bought in a hardware store.
The tomatoes take about three to four days to dry. Once they’re shrivelled and dry (not blackened and crispy!), put them into clean jars, adding a piece or two of basil and a little salt. Pour olive oil over and seal. They can be used within a few days and will keep in a cold, shady for many months.
When you come to use the tomatoes in recipes, most of the time you’ll remove them from the oil and leave to soak for a while. Boiling water is poured over them and once soft they can be used whole, or chopped into pieces for pasta sauces, risottos and some meat dishes. I use the herby oil from the jar in savoury frying and dressings.
All simply delicious and so simple!
Sun-dried Tomato Paste
Take some sun-dried tomatoes with their oil and make a puree from them. This can be spread over fish, chicken or steaks to add a gorgeous flavour. You can also add to stir-fried and oven-baked vegetables too. A very Continental thing we do is to take some fresh bread, spread the puree over, and add sliced cucumber and a spoonful of local yoghurt. You can also add other herbs, such as parsley, garlic, capers and olives. Yum!
And what if you have no sun?
Proceed exactly as for sun-drying; simply put the racks of sliced, salted tomatoes into a cool oven and leave to dry. It will take a few hours at 50’C/120’F.
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
Finally why not make your own fresh pesto which is far superior to bottled stuff!
Sprigs of fresh basil (about 6)
75g (3 oz) sun-dried tomatoes
125g (4 oz) pine kernels
4 chopped garlic cloves
25 cl (8 fl oz) olive oil
125 (4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
2 good pinches pepper
Place everything into a blender except the oil, cheese and pepper and blend well. Add the pepper and oil and give it a good whizz. Add cheese and give another whizz.
I hope you try out these very simple recipes and get a kick out of producing your very own preserves. Have fun and I’ll be back next time with more ideas from my sun-drenched island!
Thanks for dropping by!
The Matina Tomato 82282 image was credited to Robert & Mihaela Vicol