Each year we grow our own tomatoes in the garden. At least four plants of different varieties, if not more in a big oval pot by the sunny bit of the fence or wall. This year I had a 6′ x 4′ plastic greenhouse with staging from my parents and mother in law for my birthday, so had three extra plants too (not to mention cucumber and sweet pepper plants). I am a complete tomato snob and won’t willingly eat them out of season as they just taste of nothing, in my opinion, so am always keen to grow and eat my fill of them during the summer.
Given the fact that we grew seven tomato plants it was inevitable that we had a glut. What to do with them once we had eaten our fill and given as many away as people wanted though? Roasted tomato and garlic sauce for pastas and freezing, naturally (River Cottage recipe). But there were still more! And more! And More! We are not big fans of tomato chutney, either green or red, so we decided to make our own ‘sundried’ tomatoes. The first batch was made in the oven, using another Hugh recipe. They came out reasonably and were soon used up in sandwiches and the like. Then something exciting happened. Giles had a dehydrator for his birthday in September.
We decided to cut up the rest of the tomatoes – mainly Moneymaker and the cherry variety Gardeners Delight by this point. I think that we had three trays full of them and they took about 6 hours to dry out to a crisp. Drying them in this way concentrates the flavour and gives them a real piquancy. We kept one box of them to use in salads and the like, and for rehydrating in pasta sauces.
The rest, we stuffed into little glass bottles and filled in the gaps with nice extra virgin olive oil. We have yet to try those, as they need a bit of steeping, but the other ones are lovely. I will have no qualms about growing epic numbers of tomatoes this year now!