It’s that time of the year when tomatoes start to ripen and take over the garden. Some months ago I mentioned I had planted lots of varieties of cherry tomatoes – they seem hardier than the larger varieties and suit me as I can pick a handful of mixed tomatoes for a meal. The hail in November stripped the plants back to bare stems but they have come back with a vengeance and set the challenge to keep up with them as they ripen.
Semidried tomatoes seem to work well with the cherry variety, so I’m drying and bottling as fast as I can. They look so pretty with the range of colours working well together. My approach is pretty simple.
Firstly I line some baking trays with baking paper (just saves on the mess and makes it easier to pick up any tomatoes that drop through the rack.
I then set racks on the baking trays. The tomatoes can be pretty small and will be much smaller as they dry, so if possible, use two racks crossed over to minimise gaps.
- Preheat oven at a low heat – 120/140 degrees.
- Wash and thoroughly dry tomatoes. Cut in half and place in a bowl.
- Add salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add heaps of chopped fresh herbs – I use oregano.
- Add a few sloshes of olive oil and make sure all ingredients are well combined.
- Spread out on racks, trying to keep a single layer to help the drying process.
- Put on low shelf in oven and allow to dry out – this may take 3 – 5 hours.
- Remove from oven and place tomatoes in sterilised jars. Top with olive oil. It may help to use a sharp knife of instrument to remove air bubbles from the stacked tomatoes.
- Seal and enjoy.
These smaller tomatoes are great tossed in salads, pastas and casseroles and provide a rich small explosion of taste.