Wednesday, August 10, 2005

You Say Tomato, I Say Tom-Uh-Oh

So I have the inevitable summer shower of tomatos, and while I've made up 'goodie bags' for various of my spouse's coworkers and my own, it's time to Get Serious. I am going to try canning this year, and making some of my own salsa and tomato sauce (chunky marinara). I have the old standby, the Ball Food Book, but of course the 'net offers a plethora of options. I am, of course, enjoying the fresh, eat-em-off-the-vine, warm from the sun goodness which is WHY we raise tomatoes in the first place. A visiting techie friend definitely appreciated that ambience, and yet I still have LOTS of tomatoes. This has been Health is Optional week for me, as I fried up an entire package of turkey 'bacon' until crisp and have had either a BLT or a green salad with chopped fresh tomato and 'bacon' crumbles every day for the past couple of days. I still have one serving of the stuff left. I'm not done yet! (happy sigh) I use the Louis Rich even though it looks more fake than the Jenny-O, because it's not quite as horrendous on the sodium count. But I digress.

I adore the sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and spices that I get from Costco. I go through about one 32 oz jar in an entire year. I don't feel good about turning my horde of wonderful eating-fresh tomatoes into that jar, however. What I do want to try is drying (sun, oven, or otherwise) some of the wonderful little yellow SunGold cherry tomatoes. I think those could be lovely in some recipes where sundried standard tomatoes would be too strong. They might also be wonderful to snack on. :-)

Another option, which I suspected not, but which intrigues me mightily, is smoke-dried tomatoes. Wowie zowie! Those sound *great*, and I definitely would put some of my redly rampant romas or eminently esculent early-girls into the smoker. I note with interest his mention of the Minion method, but unfortunately it is a briquette-based fireup technique rather than advice on rounding up agreeably pliable minions to Do the Actual Work. Tsk.

The Ball book has an interesting recipe for yellow tomato honey 'butter', eg a fruit butter like an apple butter. That sounds quite pleasant as well, and I think the easiest thing to do right now is finish taking the SunGolds off the clusters and pop them into the freezer. I'll think about drying the next batch. This batch will be sauced or salsa'd for preservation. A night or two in the freezer, double-bagged, won't hurt them. Some of them are SO ripe that I fear leaving them in the fridge for another day or so until I can process them will lead to some spoilage.


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