Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I say Tomato...

We have had a hard time trying to grow tomatoes this year. We originally started with at least 10 different varieties this Spring, including Beefsteak tomatoes, Coeur de Boeuf from France, Black Krim, Tommy Toe, Indian Moon, Prescott heirlooms, etc. Unfortunately many of the seeds did not germinate in the greenhouse, others did not survive the transplant process, and many others developed some weird fungus or got eaten by weird bugs.

At any rate, I did not think this was going to be the 'year of the tomato' at Antigua Farms. Luckily, even with over 50 plants dying, we are now getting loads of tomatoes in from the garden. I've made ratatouille, soup, ketchup, marinara sauce, casseroles, salsa, and salads. And now my family is officially tomatoed out.

Mini mini cherry tomatoes

There have actually been so many tomatoes that I've had to think of ways to process and store them. So here are some pros and cons from my tomato storage wars:

1. Canning
Pros: No energy used to store. Long shelf life. Ready to eat out of the jar. Cons: Time-consuming. And do not look up botulism on the internet...

2. Freezing
Pros: Whole tomatoes, soup, sauce; it can all get dumped in the freezer.
Cons: Freezer burn, defrosting takes time, lots of wasted electricity.

3. Drying
Pros: Quick and easy to do. Versatile. Takes up very little storage space.
Cons: Can get moldy if not stored properly.

Sundried tomatoes are a winner!

Verdict is in: if you have too many tomatoes, just make your own sundried ones! You can invest in a dehydrator ($30-$50), you can dry tomatoes in your oven but that means your oven is on all day, or you can do it the super easy way.

Just slice your tomatoes lengthwise (Romas seem to work best) and remove the seeds. Place them directly on a baking sheet. Park your car in the sun and let the tomatoes sit on the dashboard  for a day or two and voila!

Make sure you store them in a dry place and check that the leftover moisture from the tomatoes, if any, does not get trapped in the bag or jar. You can also sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, herbs, or dunk them in vinegar before letting them dry out. Sundried tomatoes are really sweet and can go in everything; salads, omelettes, pizza, casseroles, etc.

New projects for next year?!!

Square tomatoes for better shipping and storage*

Bioengineered, anti-aging, purple tomatoes**

GMO tomatoes with mutated fish genes***
 *  http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/11618

** http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/126892.php

*** http://www.amazon.com/Pandoras-Picnic-Basket-Potential-Genetically/dp/0198506740

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