After the zucchini go wild the tomatoes start.
Mon mari believes that my over-productive garden is a direct result of me planting more than two normal humans (and their neighbors) can consume.
I maintain that I am practicing preventive gardening.
If I only planted two zucchini, one would die and we wouldn't have enough for me to freeze for winter.
I plant four, two green and two yellow, they all thrive and produce like crazy.
I also plant for variety: I have red, yellow, orange and black tomatoes, as well as Romas and cherries.
As to the cherry tomatoes, I know that one plant would be sufficient, but I really wanted both red and yellow… Then I saw the white.
White Cherry Tomatoes? Well, I had to have that, now, didn't I!
You know how it goes: The first little cherry tomato gets ripe. You eat it right off the vine.
Two days later you have enough for a small salad.
Two days later you have enough for a pasta.
Two days later you can hardly carry the basket back to the house.
Regular tomatoes I cook and freeze and make sauce and salsa and can happily use every one my garden gives me.
But I peel them.
The little cherry tomatoes are a different story.
I have, of course, just tossed the lot in a blender, puréed them and used them as a sauce…. But I didn't like it as well as the sauce I make with the regular tomatoes.
I thought about oven-drying them.
I Googled oven-dried cherry tomatoes.
Two things I didn't like: All the recipes called for salting them. Why? We don't need extra salt.
None of the recipes called for peeling them. Well, we know why….
But cherry tomatoes have a tough skin.
It's only going to get tougher after being dried or frozen.
As usual, I forged my own path. I peeled; I didn't salt.
It was all easy.
And WOW!!!!! Are they GOOD!
A question: Do you ever watch TV? Sit and listen to music? Enjoy an aperitif before dinner?
That's when you peel the little buggers!
I had twice the tomatoes you see in the photo by the time I was through picking. I peeled them all, while watching TV, in about 30 minutes.
To peel: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop in the tomatoes and blanch for 35 seconds. Drain and plunge into cold water until thoroughly cooled. Drain.
Next time you're relaxing with idle hands, take 3 bowls – 1 for the unpeeled tomatoes, 1 for the peels and 1 for the peeled tomatoes. With a sharp knife, prick the skin on a tomato, slip the skin off with your fingers. Repeat.
The little red ones stayed perfectly whole; the gold and yellow ones didn't. Next time I'll pick them before they are quite so perfectly ripe.
To oven-dry: Spread them out in a baking dish, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast, 200F (100C) until the surface is dry but a bit of moisture remains inside, 2 – 3 hours.
You want them to be like a very juicy raisin.
When completely cool, pop them into freezer bags, in small quantities, and freeze.
Yeah, I know…. bags are a little big for the job, but my local store has a very poor selection. Freezer bags are on my shopping list for Bordeaux tomorrow.
I divided them, based on the quantities I had before peeling and drying, into thirds. It was about 3 tbs of dried tomatoes per bag.
There would have been more but they're were so good! Incredibly sweet with very intense tomato flavor.
To be honest, I hadn't expected them to be quite that good.
And without the salt!
They will be wonderful added to soups, stews, stir-fries, pastas, rices….
Maybe puréed with a bit of goat cheese and spread on fresh, hot crusty bread….
Go ahead, cherry tomatoes, give me all you've got!