Yesterday I posted a twitter update that read “Enjoying the aroma of drying tomatoes.” Unfortunately some of my facebook friends interpreted that as “dying tomatoes” and so there have been a few rather pointed comments about the state of my garden. That of course made me realize that I have been rather silent about what is happening in the garden over the summer – partly because the summer garden seems to keep growing and producing without me needing to do anything at all except wander around admiring the flowers and the growing produce.
Of course there is always watering to be done but most of the time that is a delight rather than a chore as it gives me an opportunity to admire the fruits of our spring labours. This year has been an exceptionally hot summer in Seattle contrasting with the record cold winter that preceded it – record hot July temperatures contrasted with record cold January which has meant that the garden has produced a little differently from previous years
We are enjoying wonderful tomatoes – especially the new Brandy boy we tried this year. It is similar to the Armish heirloom Brandywine but on smaller plants and a couple of weeks earlier production which is a real plus here in the Pacific NW. It has certainly produced big beautiful and delicious tomatoes – many of them weighing more than a pound each. We have had many feasts of sandwiches; Our favourite recipes begin with a good loaf of crusty white Italian bread:
Fry some bacon (wish we could get good English bacon here), place on bread, cover with cheddar cheese and melt under the grill. Top with big slices of the sweetest tomato you can find, sweet onion and avocado. Spread another slice of bread with mayo or mustard for the top slice of the sandwich and enjoy. Best eaten with good potato chips.
For a vegetarian version grill slices of summer squash and big portabello mushrooms and use in place of the bacon.
I also bottle lots of marinara sauce and dry lots of cherry tomatoes at this time – wonderful packed in olive oil with herbs and garlic. We use them in omelettes, salads and pasta dishes over the winter.
Any tips on drying/packing the cherry tomatoes? Somehow our small garden ended up with two different varieties of cherries and I’m a bit overwhelmed!
We have a dehydrator so it takes about 8 hours of drying. I cut them in half, sprinkle with salt and leave for an hour on a cloth face down. This cuts down on the drying time needed. When dried I put them into sterile jars with dried herbs & garlic (they take about 1/2 hour in the dehydrator) then pour olive oil over them and seal. If you do not have a dehydrator you can do them in the oven at about 200F (less if your oven will go lower) You need a fairly small gauge drying rack – I use a cake rack with about 1/4 square wire grate in it. The first year I had one jar full, then next 2 and now we dry as many as possible we love them so much.