Late summer to early autumn is tomato drying time for me. I grow lots of cherry varieties for this reason. Three of my favourites are Black Cherry, Reisentraube and a red pear-shaped one whose name I don’t know. It came up as a seedling down the back of our property many years ago and I’ve been growing it ever since. I suspect it came in from a neighbouring property.
So I go from this :
To this :
To this :
Those two jars are 2-litre jars. I attempt to end tomato season with both of them full of dried goodness (you’re looking at last year’s efforts there). So far this year I have filled one jar and have slightly less than half a jar left over from last year. I use them in cooking—casseroles, omelets, scrambled eggs, whatever; sometimes just a bowl beside the computer for nibbles while surfing.
I dry them in the sun when I can and when conditions aren’t suitable, they go in the Excalibur dryer :
I cut them in half and add a sprinkling of salt to the cut surface. It helps to draw out water and if I want to use them as nibbles, it’s imperative. I once dried some without and they were soooo bland. It doesn’t matter if they’re going into something cooked.
The sun-drying frame is just 4 lengths of 42 x 19 mm framing pine, or you can use any scrap timber available. The flywire is the metal stuff—I didn’t ever try plastic. I assumed it would soften in the sun and all the tomatoes would roll into the centre. You’ll need an extra frame to go over the top to keep birds and insects at bay.
I store them dry, meaning I don’t add olive oil as you would usually buy them. They must be very dry (but still chewy)—the slightest amount of moisture and they will develop mould. I’ve had mould develop when they weren’t dried quickly enough, before I had the dryer to finish them off.