Oven dried tomatoes
Five ways to preserve tomatoes
6th July, 2010
If you're lucky enough to have gluts of tomatoes, this extract from The Preserving Book shows you how to use them in mouth-watering recipes
Making ketchup from home-grown tomatoes is very satisfying, and you know that it's full of goodness without chemical additives. This authentic-tasting ketchup has a tasty balance of sweetness, acidity, and spice. Once opened, use within two weeks.
MAKES APPROX 750ML (11⁄4 PINTS) (2-3 SMALL JARS)
TAKES 1 HOUR-1 HOUR 20 MINUTES
KEEPS 3 MONTHS
1kg (21⁄4lb) ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
Good pinch of ground cloves
1 large bay leaf
2 mace blades
1 tsp sea salt
60g (2oz) light soft brown sugar
- Put all the ingredients except the sugar in a preserving pan or a large heavy-based, stainless steel saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Discard the mace and bay leaf. Purée the mixture in a blender or food processor, then rub it through a nylon sieve back into the rinsed-out pan.
- Stir in the sugar, bring back to the boil and boil, stirring all the time, for five minutes until the sauce is the consistency of thick cream.
- Pour into warm, sterilised screw-topped jars with non-metallic or vinegar-proof lids. Cover with waxed paper discs, cool, seal, and label. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks. Shake before use.
CONCENTRATED TOMATO SAUCE
Freezing cooked vegetables and fruits is a convenient way
to preserve them, and suits produce that doesn't freeze well in its natural state, such as aubergines. Gluts of tomatoes are ideal frozen as a sauce for pizzas and other savoury dishes.
MAKES APPROX 1 LITRE (13⁄4 PINTS)
TAKES 1-11⁄4 HOURS
KEEPS 12 MONTHS
2.5-3kg (51⁄2-61⁄2lb) very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large onion, sliced
1 large sprig of parsley, basil, and/or celery leaves
1 bay leaf
1 large garlic clove, peeled
- Put all the ingredients into a preserving pan or a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Simmer over a very low heat for about one hour or until the mixture becomes thick and concentrated. Stir frequently. The sauce is ready when there is no discernible liquid left.
- Remove the bay leaf and garlic and sieve the sauce through a mouli or metal sieve into a bowl, pressing hard to extract as much of the sauce as possible. Leave the sauce to cool.
- Pour the concentrated tomato sauce into small, clean freezer pots, then seal, label, and freeze. Thaw before using as required.
Dried ripe tomatoes, with their rich flavour and chewy texture, are now a fixture of modern cooking. Using a very low oven heat to semi-dry tomatoes gives a result similar to that of sun-dried tomatoes. Do a trial batch first with half the quantities.
MAKES APPROX 900G (2LB)
TAKES 10 MINUTES, PLUS DRYING AND COOLING TIME
KEEPS 2 WEEKS (12 MONTHS FROZEN)
3kg (61⁄2lb) ripe, but medium-sized tomatoes
2-3 tsp sea salt
- Cut each tomato in half, round ones horizontally, plum ones vertically. Score the middle of each tomato with a cross shape and push the centres up from below with your fingertips to expose more of the flesh
- Arrange the tomato halves side by side, cut side up, on wire racks positioned over baking trays. Sprinkle each lightly with salt. Leave for a few minutes to allow the salt to start to draw out the moisture, then place cut side down without touching each other.
- Put the trays in the oven on a low setting (60-80°C/150- 175°F/Gas 1⁄4-1⁄2) and dry for 8-12 hours. Keep the door of an electric oven slightly ajar with a skewer to create an air flow. Tomatoes are ready when they have shrivelled to half their size, but are still soft and pliable. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the racks.
- When the tomatoes are completely cold, pack into sterilised jars and store in the fridge. For longer-term keeping, freeze on open trays, then pack into small bags and frozen. To use, defrost, cover with olive oil, refrigerate, and use within one week.
In Mediterranean countries, it's normal to preserve tomatoes by drying them outside in the sun instead of putting them in the oven. The high sugar and acid content of tomatoes makes them safe to dry out in this way.
Very hot (32°C/90°F), dry, breezy days are best. Prepare in the same way, but cover the fruit with muslin to keep off insects. Keep the trays off the ground (the higher the better), make sure the air can circulate easily around them, and bring the trays inside at night. Sun-drying takes between two and four days, depending on how hot the weather is each day.
TOMATO AND ROASTED PEPPER CHUTNEY
This sweet, jammy, mild-flavoured chutney is an ideal accompaniment to Brie, goat's cheese, or other soft cheeses. Stir a teaspoon or two of chilli flakes into the mixture at the end of cooking if you want to give it added spice.
MAKES APPROX 1.35KG (3LB) (3 MEDIUM JARS)
TAKES 2 HOURS 20 MINUTES
KEEPS 9 MONTHS
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
1.35kg (3lb) ripe tomatoes, plunged into boiling water for one minute and then peeled
2 onions, roughly chopped
450g (1lb) granulated sugar
600ml (1 pint) white wine vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Put the peppers in a roasting tin and cook for about 25-30 minutes until they begin to char slightly. Remove from the oven, put in a plastic bag, and leave to cool (this will make the skins easier to remove).
- Pull away the stalks, remove the skin, deseed, and roughly chop. Put the skinned tomatoes, roasted peppers, and onions in a food processor and pulse brie until chopped but not mushy. Alternatively, chop by hand.
- Tip the mixture into a preserving pan or a large heavy-based, stainless steel saucepan with the sugar and vinegar. Cook on low heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1-11⁄2 hours, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken and turn jammy. You may need to increase the heat a little towards the end of cooking. Stir continuously near the end so the chutney doesn't catch on the base of the pan.
- Ladle into warm sterilised jars with non-metallic or vinegar-proof lids, making sure there are no air gaps. Cover each pot with a waxed paper disc, seal, and label. Store in a cool, dark place. Allow the flavours to mature for one month, and refrigerate after opening.
This is an extract from The Preserving Book, edited by Lynda Brown, in conjunction with the Soil Association (£16.99, Dorling Kindersley)
Ecologist readers can buy the book for the special price of £13.60 with free P & P in the UK. To order call the DK bookshop on 0845 1307778 and quote reference DKPREBKEC. Alternatively visit www.shop4online.co.uk/DKPREBKEC
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