Monday, October 7, 2013

31 Days + Preserving the Harvest {Juliet Tomatoes}

This weekend's rain was the perfect excuse to stay inside and putter around the kitchen. I spent a good portion of my time preserving the last of our tomatoes. The easiest to tackle were these little gems. Have you heard of Juliet tomatoes?

Ryan and I first planted these little beauties in our garden last year, and after the drought we had in Wisconsin, they were pretty much the only thing that grew. And grow they did! We were harvesting bowlfuls every couple of days, and we only put in one plant.

This year, it was a no-brainer to include Juliets in our garden. And, since we overdid it a tiny bit on plant buying day, we put in 3 plants. Even though the garden has been sorely neglected this year, we're harvesting these beautiful little jewels by the bowlful again this year.

While I love to eat them out of hand (with salt, of course), or chopped up in salads, there's just no way we can stay ahead of our massive plants. Here are my two favorite ways to preserve these little bites of sunshine so we can enjoy them in the cold winter months that lie ahead.


This is just as easy as can be. Simply halve the tomatoes lengthwise, and spread out on your food dehydrator racks cut side up. You can sprinkle with a little salt and/or dried herbs, but most of the time I'm lazy and just leave them as-is. Dry at 135 degrees for 12 to 24 hours, checking every so often to pick out the dry ones. Instead of letting the tomatoes get brittle, I like to leave them slightly squidgy and soft, and then package them up by the cupful into freezer bags and freeze. They're great added to a winter Caprese grilled cheese sandwich, or added to your winter pizzas or pastas. They make a fantastic appetizer on toasted baguette with a little goat cheese. Personally, I like to just snack on them straight from the bag too.


This is slightly more labor-intensive, but worth every second.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. On a large baking sheet, dump as many tomatoes as will fit. To the pan, add several peeled whole cloves of garlic, whatever fresh or dried herbs float your boat (I'm partial to thyme), salt, pepper, and a good healthy drizzle of olive oil. Roast for at least an hour (but probably closer to 2). You can tell they're done when the tomatoes are all slumped over and raisin-y.

Again, I like to freeze these beauties by the cupful and pull them out to add to fresh cooked pasta with a little grating of Parmesan cheese, or serve as a rustic starter with grilled bread to catch all the delicious tomato-olive oil juice.

The beauty of these two methods of preserving is that they basically tend to themselves. You either set up the dehydrator or the oven and then putter around while the tomatoes do their thing, only checking on them every once in awhile. And yet, still getting things done, still crossing something off the To Do list. My kind of putting by.

Did you miss the first week of 31 Days of Don't Think...Just Do? You can view the whole series here.

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