We’re eating it as fast as we can. We’re feeding some of it to our duck ladies. We’re giving away bunches of it to friends and family every day. No matter what we do, the piles of food on our countertops and in our fridge and on our tables are getting big enough to pose a health hazard to us and the von Kittens.
In fact, Bob von Kitten was nearly felled by a cascading pile of heirloom squash on July 4th. After rolling in fresh catnip and taking a lengthy nap, he seemed to have fully recovered from the ordeal. We even made a veggie fireworks display to help calm his kitten nerves.
So, what do we do with all the extra piles of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, beans and other produce that have piled up around Tyrant Farms? Sure, we do a good bit of canning and pickling, but most gardeners are already familiar with those food-saving methods. For the sake of brevity, we won’t delve into ALL of our favorite long-term storage methods for each type of excess produce. For now, we’ll just share one of our favorite ways to easily store a bunch of extra tomatoes: making soft & chewy sun-dried tomatoes!
If you’ve got a bunch of extra tomatoes lying around that you don’t know what to do with, we hope you’ll find this information helpful.
A Quick & Easy Way to Store Extra Tomatoes
We grew over 30 varieties of tomatoes this year, most of them heirlooms. One of the new hybrid varieties we’re growing is “Tumbling Tom” tomatoes. We wanted a few low-growing, cascading plants that produced huge amounts of early-ripening bite-sized tomatoes and our Tumbling Toms have done a beautiful job in this role. Our four plants easily produce a colander-full of tomatoes per day, and they’re just getting started.
These small tomatoes are perfect for “sun-drying.” We’re using quotation marks on “sun-drying” because we actually dehydrate them in our trusty, old Excalibur dehydrator (which takes about one day) rather than using the true sun-drying method which can take over a week (or longer if it’s raining every single day like it has been here lately).
Recipe: Soft and Chewy Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Last year, we made a bunch of sun-dried tomatoes that had a great flavor profile, but they were a bit too hard and crunchy for our liking. So, this year we tweaked our method by adding olive oil to try to get a softer, chewier sun-dried tomato. We’re pleased to say, our new recipe works and tastes great!
Here’s how you can easily make your own sun-dried tomatoes:
What You’ll Need:
- A bunch of tomatoes (small or large)
- A dehydrator (or a conventional oven)
- A large bowl
- Extra virgin olive oil (preferably organic)
- Sea salt
- A few of your favorite dried, powdered herbs (optional)
5 Steps: How to make dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes:
Step 1. Slice
For small tomatoes, simply cut them in half and drop them in your bowl. For larger tomatoes, you might need to cut out the spot where the stem attaches to the fruit, then cut them into chunks about the size of a cracker (they’ll shrink considerably when dried).
Step 2. Spice
Once your tomatoes are all cut and in the bowl, toss them in olive oil (this is what helps keep the skin soft), sea salt (for flavor and extra preservative) and whatever herbs (for flavor) you’d like to add. Let them sit for about 5 minutes, then give them one more quick stir. *All the flavors will intensify considerably after the tomatoes are dehydrated, so go light on the salt and spices.
Step 3. Dry
Lay the tomato slices on your dehydrating racks at 125 degrees fahrenheit for about 24 hours. Do a taste test on your largest slices before considering them done. You do NOT want any moisture left in the tomatoes or they could turn bad during long-term storage.
Step 4. Cool & Store
When they’re done, let them cool to room temperature, then store them in an air-tight jar or container for future use. As you can see from the photos, tomatoes (like all fruits and veggies) are mostly water, so they’ll lose a huge percentage of their mass when dried.
Step 5. Eat (our favorite step)
We’ve eaten our sun-dried tomatoes over a year later and they still taste as good as the day they came off the rack. They’re absolutely delicious on homemade pizza, in pasta or as a quick snack.
Don’t have a dehydrator? No problem! Here’s a link showing you how to make sun-dried tomatoes using a conventional oven.
We hope you make and enjoy your own delicious homemade soft and chewy sun-dried tomatoes!