The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Determinate tomatoes

Drying tomatoes

Twenty-four hours later, I'm still prepping tomatoes. This is the boon and bane of determinate tomatoes like Martino's romas.

On the minus side, you have bushels of tomatoes to deal with during a few-week span. On the plus side...the plants ripen up most of their fruits before the blight takes the vines all the way down.

In our wet garden, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Our winter bellies will be grateful for the summer bounty!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I love Romas because of their meaty texture. Usually I boil them to get the skins off, then puree them and then can them to make tomato sauce or soup or whatever. When I need some, I simply open a quart, throw it in the crockpot, add whatever spices I want and 12 hours later I have delicious sauce or soup.

Have you considered doing this instead of drying them? The few times I tried drying them I found it to be very difficult to reconstitute them and when I did they were less than satisfactory.

Comment by Nayan Sat Aug 6 12:57:31 2016
I usually remove the seeds and the internal wet membrane if I'm going to freeze or oven-dry them - assuming they'll dry faster AND prevent the bitterness I've heard comes from cooking the seeds. Have you tried both ways? Just cutting them in half would be much faster, but I wonder what effect that extra moisture has on drying time.
Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck Mon Aug 8 23:20:40 2016

Last year when we were bringing in a bushel of tomatoes every other day and I had limited time at home to deal with them, I discovered my new favorite way of processing a lot of tomatoes quickly.

I cored the tomatoes, tossed them skin and all in a blender, and then pureed them. I spread the tomato puree on dehydrator sheets and ran my dehydrators (my old Nesco and the new Excalibur I'd just purchased) all day. When I got home the puree was crispy dry (definitely don't want it to still be tacky), and I'd break up the dried tomato into smaller pieces and then pop them in the food processor and pulse it until it was powdered. Then I'd puree another batch of cored tomatoes and let them dehydrate overnight (rinse, repeat). Our house smelled heavenly!

I stored the tomato powder in jars with some moisture remover packs, and I've been thrilled with how versatile it's has been! Mixed with water I can make any tomato base ranging from paste to soup, and it's now super easy to add a quick shot of tomato flavor to dishes without having to open and use a whole canned jar.

I'll never give up my home canned tomato sauce or dried tomatoes, but tomato powder was so easy and useful I'll always plan on making more with each year's harvest =)

Comment by Rae Tue Aug 9 01:10:43 2016

Nayan --- We really love the dried tomatoes soaked in oil, basil, and garlic. We use them as a condiment rather than reconstituting them and we've never had any left over the next year. On the other hand, last summer I stewed up the excess and still have about a gallon of those waiting for a home. I guess our tastes differ. :-)

Rhonda --- We don't mind the seeds and skins, and I figure the fiber is good for us. Plus, I'm a lazy cook --- if I don't need to skin something, I don't. You're right that they do take quite a while to dry merely cut in half and unprocessed otherwise, but I'm willing to spend a few cents on electricity for easy processing in mid summer.

Rae --- Thanks so much for taking the time to share! That's a great idea and sounds very utilitarian. I may have to try your recipe...if Mark ever decides we have enough Hollywood Sun-dried Tomatoes. :-)

Comment by anna Tue Aug 9 20:38:04 2016

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