I’m learning to let the garden dictate what we eat and when. It’s a matter of use it, or lose it.
A fortnight ago I had around 20 kilograms of home grown tomatoes. We enjoyed tomatoes in almost every meal.
We ate lasagne, pasta, soup, bruschetta, greek salad, ratatouille and loads of easy casseroles.
Today there are only a handful of tomatoes left in my garden. Thankfully, despite the garden being almost bare of tomatoes we’ll be enjoying our bounty for months to come.
I spent a little time each evening preserving our harvest. I made sauce, pickles, passata, and tomato paste.
The paste was a nice surprise. In the past, I’ve made tomato paste on the stove and found it took hours to reduce the puree sufficiently. In the heat of summer, the last thing I want is to have the stove bubbling away for hours. This time I dehydrated the tomatoes first and then simply pureed the dehydrated tomatoes in a food processor. It worked perfectly. I froze the paste in ice cube trays and now have a nice stash of tomato paste cubes in the freezer.
I dehydrated the tomatoes on my car dashboard. In summer, a car dashboard is an ideal spot to dry fruit. With the car in full sun, I put racks of halved cherry tomatoes on the dash board. I opened the window a crack and covered the opening with an old netting curtain. By the end of the day I had beautiful sun dried tomatoes.
The novelty of preserving tomatoes each evening wore off after a week. I froze the remaining cherry tomatoes whole. I’ll use these to make sauce over the coming months. I’ll simply defrost and then puree, skins and all.
At the time, I did feel like the preserving was a hassle. But now, only a fortnight later with a garden bare of tomatoes, I’m glad I made the effort.
Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 15th February 2014.