enjoy now: the last of the garden-fresh tomatoes

Henry and I sit out front in the lawn, the grass just starting to get crisp with the hot August sun and the cool nights of a waning summer. He can tell something is different. He sniffs the air, gently passes his fingerlings through the grass, reaches for the dry blooms of a dead dandelion.

It’s this time of summer, this fleeting time of the season that creates both a frantic grasping for last moments and an excitement for the fast-approaching autumn. For us here in Portland, we’re clutching the last of the garden fresh tomatoes. Thanks to our incredible Indian summer, we’ve got a few last minute tomatoes to enjoy, which means Henry gets to taste his first real tomato:

My green-thumb in-laws brought us flat after flat of the finest and most delicious tomatoes ever. EVER:

We didn’t want to waste one scrumptious bite of these perfect little creations, so we got to work turning them into “sun” (dehydrator) dried tomatoes.

My mom bought me my dehydrator years ago and it has gotten some serious use – apples, pears, kiwis, bananas, herbs – you name it! Easy, inexpensive and healthy snackaroos. I love it!

Here’s how we made our SUN-DRIED TOMATOES:

First, bring a big ol’ pot of water to boil. Submerge tomatoes in the boiling water for one minute. I’ve found that much longer than this and your tomatoes get too mushy to slice effectively.

After the quick boiling water bath, remove tomatoes and place on a towel on the counter to await slicing. I’m sure it would be helpful to put them in a cold water bath at this point to chill them and stop the cooking, I just never have!

Next, slice the tomatoes, remove as many seeds and as much liquidy insides as possible and place the plump discs of goodness on the dehydrator trays. (I bet you could also put them on an oiled pan in the oven, but I’ve never done this.) After all of your tomatoes are loaded up on your dehydrator trays, set it to 325 degrees and leave it for at least eight hours or over-night.

You’ll know they’re done when there is very little squishy-ness left, and not too much brittleness. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the trays, dip in vinegar (either white or apple cider) and pack fairly compactly in a big mason jar or some other air-tight container. Finally, pour good-quality oil (I used olive oil) over the entire jar-full of tomatoes until the entire lot is covered. Take time to tap out (with the use of a fork) the air bubbles. This will help the tomatoes last as long as possible.

I toss these little guys in pasta, salads, breakfast sandwiches – you name it! Divine.

Enjoy these first glorious days of fall and the beginning of harvest!

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