As the last of the warm days disappear, so vanishes tasty tomatoes for another 8 months. (Acknowledging it in print makes me even more depressed than when I merely think it). I had been collecting the last vestiges of these beauties from my garden faster than I could eat them, and lamenting the fact that they have been just sitting on my counter, waiting to spoil. It was not a comforting thought to one who is now facing the bleak winter despising the hot house tomato offerings of my local supermarket. Last weekend I canned 35 lbs. of tomatoes, so I am saving the summer bounty. However the tomatoes on my counter, which I just can't eat, have really been bothering me.
A solution to my problem came two days ago when I was perusing my favorite food blogs and came upon the most recent post from Antics of a Cycling Cook. I really like reading this blog because he has an easy-going writing style and homey Mediterranean and British recipes. His most recent post was about oven dried tomatoes. Oven drying tomatoes looked really easy to do and sounded like a fantastic solution to my tomato problem. For the original post from Sam the Cycling Cook, click here.
To begin, preheat your oven at the lowest setting possible, mine was 170 degrees. Wash your tomatoes and cut in half. Place on a slightly greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Then, put your tomatoes in the oven and leave for 6-9 hours, depending on the size of your tomatoes and the temperature of your oven. My tomatoes took about 9 hours. A few hours before your tomatoes are finished, place your jar in the oven with the tomatoes to sterilize, and leave it there until ready.
When the tomatoes are ready, pack in the jar and cover with olive oil. Seal and place in the refrigerator. Sam assured me that the olive oil would not get cloudy, but after a day, my olive oil is cloudy. Perhaps my refrigerator is colder than his or he is using a better olive oil or whatever. This will not harm your tomatoes, but you will have to leave the jar out for a little bit before you use them to melt the olive oil a little bit.
One of the comments from Sam's post did mention that unless you heat the olive oil before you put the tomatoes in, be sure to eat them quickly as they may spoil. I think I may try them on a pizza next week or perhaps just straight. Oh summer tomatoes, why are you so fleeting?