This nursy plays dirty and does it with pain...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Preserving... my way!!!

Ahhh summer!!! My second favorite season after spring. But for me, it is a fleeting season. Everything in it seems to happen all at once. For a gardener as myself, summer gets to be hectic in such a short of time. A season of beauty and abundance, summer magnifies all the fundamental joys of a gardener: garden-fresh food; postcard-perfect scenery; a rainbow of flowers in bloom and an outdoor-living mindset that begs for spontaneous picnics. When spring comes, my lusting for summer starts. A reading perfectly describes what summer is for me ... "Like a torrid love affair, my relationship with summer goes through predictable cycles: We crave each other, passionately adore each other, then mutually burn out in the end".

Summer means working hard but having fun. More than any other time of year, the average summer day offers a buffet of options and possibilities. Mow, weed, harvest, repair, and process. Summer’s to-do list never ends. A celebration of seasonal abundance!!! One way I cherish the summer's abundance is preserving its yield. Although I downsized my garden 2 years ago, I still get quite a bit of produce. I resort into drying and vacuum-sealing/freezing so that I can enjoy the yield of summer throughout the rest of the year.
Tomatoes are one of those summer abundance that I have learned to preserve. I enjoy it as much as I can during the season by indulging in tomato sandwiches - smashed avocado on the bread, slices of tomatoes then lettuce and more smashed avocado on the other bread, some freshly ground pepper and eat away. It's heavenly!!!
Sometimes. I take some sliced up tomatoes, put them on the grill, top them with slices of mozzarella cheese then freshly picked Basil leaves, a dab of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and let them grilled ... great appetizer, snack or sandwich.
Dried up tomatoes, if you look at them at the grocery stores, are expensive. And yet so easy to make at home. After I wash and dry the tomatoes, I slice then cut them at least halves, or three slices if they are "fat". I try to squeeze out most of the seeds. then lay them on my dehydrator. I open all the vents of the dehydrator and plug and leave it be. I check once in a while to take out the ones that are dried up and to rotate the dehydrator plates.

The stages of drying ...

After drying the tomatoes, I divide them into 3 piles. One pile is vacuumed-sealed in smaller quantities so that I can use them in recipes that require tomatoes. When I want to use them, I soak them in water until plumped up then use as the recipe calls for. One pile gets chopped finely and put in a jar with EVOO. The other pile gets chopped in bigger slices then in the jar with EVOO as well. The finely chopped is used for more delicate recipes and the bigger chunks get to be used in sauces and soups and the like.

One other way I preserve is by vacuum-sealing then freezing. I first blanch the tomatoes - boiling the water in the pot, putting the whole tomatoes in and let it quickly boil again until the skin is peeling off. Scoop them out and into a container of iced cold water to stop the boiling process and maintain that natural red color.

Relish summer while it’s here and sing along with Sandy and Danny from “Grease” while sinking in your teeth in those juicy, tasty tomatoes: “Summer lovin’, had me a blast. Summer lovin’, happened so fast.”


momoftwo said...

Wow! You have a tomato processing going on in your own kitchen!

Yeah, why summers went by too fast??

elyani said...

Wow, that looks amazing. I’m drooling, just looking at the pictures. I don't mind getting those dried tomatoes if you get bored with them...LOL!

Belle said...

my gosh, your tomatoes look so beautiful, and free of any holes. they are good size, too. i haven't done preserving them yet. that is really a good idea so you can still avail of it during winter.

thanks for sharing.