Friday, October 17, 2014

What to do with your Tomatoes...

As any gardener knows, you do the best with what you've got.
Sometimes that means you deal with a poor growing season...
(like the one we just and rainy)
and save what you can...while you've got it!

This past spring, we started our own tomato plants indoors in March.
We always had indoor this was a first for us!
We raised 45 Roma tomato plants and several yellow pear and tiny tim cherry tomatoes.
The romas did so well, we donated 35 of them to the Grandmothers for Africa plant and bake sale.
In return, we were gifted with some of the heritage tomatoes we grew this year. 

Although the growing season was poor...we were still drowning in tomatoes.
What to do?

I picked a sunny day to sit outside and listen to the Blue Jays 
(a local fall bird....not the sports team)
while I sliced and seeded our plentiful Romas.

There was also a beautiful breeze going I took advantage!
Sundried tomatoes...on my screen.
The dried for about 3 days, each night I brought them in so the heavy dew wouldn't make them mold.

Alternatively, I tried a food dehydrator to see if there was a big difference.

It just so happened my mother in law had one she was willing to loan me!
What I eventually found out was...both ways worked about the same.
The dehydrator was pretty darned convenient during our week of overcast skies and rain.
They smelled pretty nice too.
Still...there is something extra nice about tomatoes that were actually dried in the sun.
These sad indoor tomatoes just felt like impostors.

Luckily you can't tell the difference between them when they are all in the same bag!

The end result was a small freeze bag of dried summery goodness that we will enjoy all winter.


Another solution is to host a salsa party!

We had friends come by, enjoy some salsa music and we took over the entire kitchen with salsa fixins.
Of course the open bags of tostitos were for the much sampling...just to make sure, ya know?

A salsa party is an excellent idea to make the work go quicker.
You can also invite each guest to bring something that they has in abundance...
or that they can buy and contribute to the salsa.
We don't grow sweet bell peppers or having our guests bring those ingredients was a win for us!
We even had a guest bring the snap lids!

With so many can make enough to split between each guest.
Everyone wins!


This year, we also made pizza sauce in jars...

And pasta sauce for the freezer...

You can also make ahead meals and freeze them too...using your tomatoes...but I haven't gotten than far yet.
You can also blanch and skin them for the freezer too!


Sadly...I tried making pasta sauce in jars...
but after a few days it became apparent that something went wrong in the canning process.
While this is is no less heartbreaking.
It felt like a serious waste...but that sometimes happens when you are learning.
I am very thankful for the fact that my mistakes aren't going to mean my family will be starving this winter.
Luckily, when I make sauce, I don't add meat until I'm ready to cook it for dinner.
That meant the spoiled sauce went right into the composter.
Not so sad, right?

So tell me, what do you do with your tomatoes?

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