I loved reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. The book is the story of how she and her family spent a year growing most of their own food, and is written in chronological order. The chapter for August is titled “Life In a Red State”. Here in southern Indiana, we usually hit the Red Zone by late July. In case you haven’t guessed it by now, it is officially Tomato Season!
For us, the Red Zone is the island counter top in the kitchen. Ours is a busy kitchen, since we eat most of our meals at home and grow most of our own vegetables and fruit. Not all the tomatoes are red of course. We also have the orange colors of the Sun Golds, Jennys and Flammes and the light yellows of the Golden Raves. This year we also have the darker reds of the Black Cherry tomatoes. Most of the small fruited ones that don’t get eaten as-is get dried in the dehydrator. We’ve already got 10 packages of them dried so far, and the dehydrator is busy again today.
The dried tomatoes are so tasty and so versatile. All that tomato flavor gets concentrated into a small bite-size bit of goodness. After soaking in water for a few minutes, they are great on and in salads, frittatas and omelettes, and with green beans, spinach, squash, wraps and pizzas. Of course we also just snack on quite a few of them while still dried.
Some of the slicers wound up on BLT sandwiches yesterday for lunch. And some went into salsa I made earlier in the week. Others will get cut into halves and quarters and frozen for later use in soups and stews. And when the paste tomatoes start rolling in many of them will get simmered down for sauces and then frozen.
So at this time of year don’t park anything but a tomato in the Red Zone. Because if you’re not careful, it will wind up dried, frozen, cooked or eaten!
Our island is also covered with tomatoes!! I was just taking pictures of them yesterday and now today there are more! I have to get more canned today. I have never dried tomatoes. Is there a variety that you find better to dry?
The varieties we like to dry include Juliet, Principe Borghese, Golden Rave, Jenny, Sapho, Sweet Baby Girl and Sungold. We also dried grape tomatoes last year. These are all small to medium sized tomatoes. I know some who dry Roma types, but for those we had to slice them crossways and we found them less useful when dried. We may experiment again with some paste tomatoes done that way. For small cherry types we cut them in half, and for the larger ones (like Juliet and Golden Rave) we quarter them lengthways. My wife has a couple of posts and photos about how she does them.
my Roma’s over here in Martin County are just starting to turn for me. I think by the end of next week I should be able to can my first batch of salsa up (hopefully my bell peppers will be turned red by then too). The rest will be canned into crushed tomatoes this year and few batches of spaghetti sauce will be frozen…can’t wait:)
Holy Tomato Harvest! Looking good! Bet it’s tasty.
I love how you grow much of what you eat. Our single tomato bush produced quite a few cherry tomatoes for us this year and I can’t wait to plant more 🙂
Wow, that’s a lot of tomatoes, I am jealous!
When I get to that stage I’ll be fire roasting and freezing whatever tomatoes we don’t eat fresh. Until then I’ll enjoy your post.
I may try fire roasting some tomatoes this year. We roasted peppers last year on the grill, then peeled, chopped and froze them, and that worked great. No more canned chiles!
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That is exactly what my counter looked like this morning. I wish I had a dehydrator. Until then, I resort to gazpacho, canning, tomato salad and sandwiches. This morning I made Gazpacho for a pot luck dinner we are going to. I love those Juliet tomatoes. My plant is so prolific and they taste really good without being overwhelming.
Juliet is definitely one of our most prolific tomatoes. Their taste is a bit bland for me when fresh, but they are wonderful dried. I also like to use them in fajitas and salsa.
I’m going to have to stop coming here. Your tomatoes are gorgeous, and making me very envious. We have tons of fruit, and tons of coastal fog for almost the entire month of July. We need some summer heat. I know it will get here, eventually, but it’s bogging down the real start of our tomato season! 🙁
That’s quite a red zone. I’m almost there myself.
We have a bowlful sitting on the table, and I just took a whole bunch to visit family this weekend. When my sister realized she forgot to put tomatoes in the salad, both F. and I said, “Oh, that’s okay. We don’t mind the break,” because we’ve been eating salad and cherry tomatoes at every meal, it sometimes seems. It’s just that time of year.
Enjoy your time in the Red Zone, Villager! Your harvest is bounteous and beautiful. 🙂
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