Well, mostly this year we’ve been saying “what on earth are we going to do with all of these tomatoes?!” as the newly re-commissioned polytunnel’s first year has been extremely productive.
Typically, the main crops haven’t coincided with Volunteer Weekends, so our poor volunteers haven’t had to face a diet of nothing that isn’t round & red. Instead, we’ve had to decide how best to make use of & preserve them.
As a family who enjoy sundried tomatoes, that seemed an obvious route. We tried three methods:
- Drying in an airing cupboard – which was too cool to work quickly enough but our careful monitoring meant that most could be quickly diverted to undergo our second method:
- Oven-drying – this worked well, but it was difficult to keep the temperature low enough and temperature differences within the oven meant that some slices were overdone whilst others needed a bit longer to finish off.
- Playing with our new dehydrator – we had good results with the oven & that inspired us to invest in an electric dehydrator, which worked beautifully and was much easier to clean than the whole oven. It’s probably far more energy efficient, too.
Once the tomatoes were dry, we’ve used them in a couple of ways: Jane had a go at replicating a bruschetta mix that Hannah discovered years ago but now can’t source. Hannah preserved the remainder in olive oil, layered with homegrown basil.
The tart Hannah made with the tomatoes and some mozzarella she’d marinated with lemon disappeared at a rate to rival the famous Apricot Victoria Sponge, whilst the bruschetta mix turns a loaf of homemade ciabatta & some olive oil into a lunch fit for kings.