A bumper crop of garden tomatoes calls for inventive recipes to preserve the bounty.By Zester Daily Staff
Most home gardeners have hit that sweet spot on the calendar where it's become hard to keep up with all the produce ripening on the vines.
If you're kitchen counter and bushel baskets are overflowing with too many tomatoes, you may be wondering what you were thinking back in the cold days when you were happily flipping through seed catalogs.
And if you're already tired of salads and tomato sauce, we have a couple easy recipes to help you use up all those juicy tomatoes.
RELATED: The search for the perfect tomato.
Tomato chutney is great when it's fresh and the hot-sweet flavors complement most light summer meals, but you can also can your chutney to enjoy throughout the year.
Makes about 4 cups
12 large ripe tomatoes
1 (1½-inch) piece fresh ginger
2 jalapeno chiles, or to taste
2 large onions, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup golden raisins
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1. Peel and slice the tomatoes. Place them, along with the ginger, chiles, onions, garlic and basil in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are the consistency of a thick liquid.
2. Place liquid in a heavy non-reactive saucepan with the raisins, brown sugar and vinegar and stir well. Place the saucepan on the stove at medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1½ hours, or until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and pour into scalded half-pint canning jars. The chutney should be served immediately but will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Larger batches can be made for canning for those who have bumper crops of tomatoes, but proper canning procedures should be followed and the jars should be processed in a hot-water bath.
Contributing: Jessica B. Harris
If you've looked over the mounting pile of fresh garden tomatoes in your kitchen and wondered what you could do to preserve them like sun-dried tomatoes, try this technique.
DRIED CHERRY TOMATO 'RAISINS'
So-called sun-dried tomatoes may not be "sun" dried at all. These are dried in the oven, which does a fine job. The idea is to dry the tomatoes, not cook them. The worst part of this task is removing the leaf caps and halving hundreds of cherry tomatoes.
With cherry tomatoes being about the size of large grapes, the shrunken result is like a pliant raisiny bit. Five pounds raw gave me enough dried to fill a quart zip bag.
broiler racks or cooling racks set on cookie sheets
white distilled vinegar
Line cookie sheets or the bottom pan of a broiler rig with aluminum foil to catch drips.
Wash the tomatoes and remove leaf caps. Split tomatoes lengthwise and set on racks close together, flat sides up.
Set electric ovens to 200 F. If using a gas oven, the pilot light might be hot enough. In either case, leave oven door ajar so air can circulate. Prop open with a wooden spoon or pot holder.
Sprinkle tomatoes with vinegar. (I shake the vinegar bottle upside down while holding my finger partially over the opening.) Vinegar thwarts bacteria and mold, but has no invasive taste on the dried tomato.
Set racks in oven. If any white mold specks form, throw those pieces away and set the gas oven to 200 F. Move the trays around. Keep an eye on these for about a day and a half. You may turn off oven at night, but leave oven door ajar.
Pick off tomato halves as they become dry. Store in a zip bag; continue until all tomatoes are dry to the touch. Press air out of bag. Refrigerate the dried tomatoes in the zip bag. They'll last a couple of years.
Contributing: Elaine Corn
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