Day 1: LABOR DAY
Starting at 7:30 a.m. Paul and I picked Roma tomatoes for an hour at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, CA. My goal was about 50 pounds. We came home with 80 pounds! Price was 25 cents/pound.
First, I sliced enough to fill my Excaliber dehydrator. These Roma tomatoes are too meaty and thick to fit in all 5 shelves in, so I could only insert 3 shelves. To make use of one other shelf, I grilled and cleaned 2 pounds of Hatch Chilies, removing seeds and the charred peels. I will grind this into powder, a real space saver. And it is hot!
Washed and cooked about 12 pounds of tomatoes to preserve as crushed tomatoes and water bath canned them. Roasted tomatoes in the oven for an hour for dinner to serve with grilled chicken. We ate half of them! Delicious, with only salt, pepper, dried red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of olive oil.
What I Learned: To use the dehydrator efficiently, I need to fill all the trays, so tomorrow I will make tomato chips, slicing the tomatoes horizontally into 1/4 rounds. I have separated the small tomatoes from the big ones. Small Romas are 50 grams or smaller. Making a basic tomato sauce, a staple in our house, is also on my agenda for tomorrow. My go to canning book is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Kingry and Devine.
Day 2: I set my alarm for 4 a.m. to turn off the dehydrator, but in the morning I saw that the tomatoes were still too wet. I want them bendable but dry. So, I had to turn it back on. It’s now 9 a.m. and they have been drying since noon yesterday. Must cut them thinner today. I’m about to remove the finished ones and will put them in an airtight canning jar.
We need more jars! And I really need a pot deep enough for my quart jars. My ever helpful husband is headed to Walmart and Smart and Final to check prices. I’m looking for wide mouth pint jars for sauce, and half-pints for preserves–my specialty. I’ve in mind to make a tomato-vanilla jam once I get a chance.
Day 3: More dehydration. Cut the tomatoes horizontally and filled the dehydrator again.
Day 4: Sauce and more dehydration. I must have other things to do, no?
Day 5: Roma Tomato Pasata with Rosemary, garlic, onion, lemon thyme, olive oil. Roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour and then put through the food mill, cooked down for 30 minutes. Canned in hot water bath. Delicious beyond belief. I have about 8 pounds of ripe tomatoes left. I have some green ones to pickle too. They can wait.