Summer, To Be Continued…

It was August. Where were the tomatoes?

June rains and mild temperatures throughout July and August had delayed the growing season. But, in September – finally! – the tomatoes had ripened and were appearing in CSA shipments and farmers’ markets in Northern California.

With only a few weeks to enjoy the long-awaited culinary treasures, I went into a buying frenzy. Now that I had them, what, exactly, was I planning to do with them all?

Heirloom tomatoes
Tomato treasures!

I have a small refrigerator freezer, and an advanced case of “fear of canning” – mainly because I don’t want to poison my loved ones.

The NESCO American Harvest Food Dehydrator to the rescue!

NESCO Dehydrator

For the past two weeks, my NESCO has been running day and night to prepare for the dreaded tomato-less winter months.

Tomato dehydration process
My assistant, Al Dente, encourages me to preserve tomatoes for sauces in the winter months.

For around $60, a food dehydrator is an easy solution to preserving fresh fruit and vegetables. Here’s how:

Slice tomatoes into 3/8″ inch rounds, and place onto the four trays provided.
Set the temperature to 135°, and let the NESCO work its magic.

Tomatoes for drying
I used Cherokee heirloom tomatoes.

About 12 hours later, you’ll have dried tomatoes for soups, stews, casseroles and other winter recipes.

Dried heirloom tomatoes
Dried tomatoes have an intense flavor, add only a small handful to your recipes.

According to the easy-to-read NESCO instruction booklet, you’ll need to check for dryness to ensure all moisture has evaporated: Simply tear a tomato, and look for moisture drops along the tear. If there are no droplets, the tomato is sufficiently dry for long-term storage in air-tight containers.

Package tomatoes for storage immediately, and store containers in a cool dark cabinet or your refrigerator. The ideal storage temperature is 60°  to below freezing.

Now you can enjoy summer tomatoes – all winter long!

Welcome to my new, improved blog!

Welcome to my new blog! No longer up in the cloud with iWeb on Mobile me, I’ve moved to WordPress to increase facility and interactivity with my readers.

I feel very lucky to live here in Northern California’s “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” where it’s so easy to be a locavore and food enthusiast. You’re probably more familiar with its current nickname, Silicon Valley. But, as recently as the 1960s, this was one of the largest agricultural areas in the country, comprising hundreds of fruit and nut orchards.

The blog will focus on these agricultural roots and provide information (and opinion, of course!) about sustainability and sustainable food. I’m delighted by your shared interest. Thanks for joining me.

Salone del Gusto!

Salone del Gusto, Terra Madre 2010
The Italian Market includes food from every region of Italy.

Coinciding with Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto is a fantastic food fair offering international and Italian food and drink to taste and purchase. Organic and locals foods in abundance.The Salone is open until 11:00PM, and for the past two evenings, I’ve eaten my dinner here. I’ve sampled delicious cheeses, Limoncello, cookies infused with saffron, handmade lorighittas in tomato sauce from Sardegna, lardo, gelato, oysters from Holland and the famous Barolo of Piedmont. Qui, ho mangiato bene!*
(Here, I have eaten well!)

Salone del Gusto, Terra Madre 2010, Stringing tomatoes
Stringing tomatoes for winter.Making traditional handmade lorighittas from Sardegna.
Terra Madre 2010, Salone del Gusto, Polese
Making traditional handmade lorighittas from Sardegna.
Salone del Gusto, Terra Madre 2010, Lorighittas from Sardegna
Traditional handmade Polese Lorighittas from Sardegna.
Salone del Gusto, Terra Madre 2010, roast pig
Local arrosto di maiale.
Salone del Gusto, Terra Madre 2010, Microgreens.
An beautiful array of - and delicious! - microgreens.