Beyond comfort – raising chickens for meat
Pantry shopping - save money & reduce food waste

Tomatoes and more tomatoes - making tomato paste and dashboard drying

Some of this year's home grown tomatoes. Little eco footprints

I’m learning to let the garden dictate what we eat and when. It’s a matter of use it, or lose it.

Home-grown-tomatoes. Little eco footprints

A fortnight ago I had around 20 kilograms of home grown tomatoes. We enjoyed tomatoes in almost every meal.

Tomato-soup-little eco footprints

Home-grown -tomatoes-solar-cooked-and-made-into-passata. Little eco footprints

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.

Easy -tomato-paste. Little eco footprints

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.

Sun-drying-tomatoes-on-car-dashboard. little eco footprints

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.