I’m pleased to report that the organic cherry tomato plants I bought from Hometown Harvest this spring have been SUPER productive (thanks in part to the Veteran Compost delivered with the plants). I’ve been harvesting since the 4th of July with no signs of slowing down. It’s also prime time for my favorite heirloom cherry tomatoes from Chesley Vegetable Farm in my Hometown Harvest bags—I love the red, orange, pink, and yellow colors of these tasty little gems.
I usually have big plans for these babies that don’t involve endless salads. My favorite way to use them is to concentrate the intense flavors through drying and freezing. In the depths of winter, when I’m busy making soups and casseroles, I thank myself for the little freezer bags full of summertime warmth.
Drying tomatoes (or berries, apples, or any other water-rich food) is easy to do in an oven set on low. I like to call this passive cooking because there is very little effort involved. Simply slice the tomatoes lengthwise so they are relatively the same thickness and place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350°, then drop the temperature down to 200°. Pop those babies in!
Now forget them for a few hours. Yes, hours. Go enjoy your life and let the low, dry oven do the work. Check them after 3-4 hours to see how things are going. Remember you’re not try to cook the tomatoes, just keep them dry enough so that the moisture will evaporate and the flavor will be concentrated. I often will let them dry at 200° for 4 hours, then crank the heat back up to 350° and shut the oven OFF, and go to bed.
In the morning, the tomatoes will be wrinkled like raisins and ready for a freezer bag. Do yourself a favor and freeze a few bags of these while the harvest is good!