Sunday, August 1, 2010

In Praise of Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes!

I have heard a number of people expressing skepticism about heirloom plants in general, and tomatoes specifically, saying that they fear the heirloom varieties are too fussy and won't produce as much as the hybrids. NOT TRUE! For the past two years, we have grown heirloom Fox Cherry cherry tomatoes I started from seed purchased from Baker's. Last year when all our other tomatoes were consumed by blight, the Fox Cherries were the only ones that were unaffected and which produced abundantly until the first frost in October. This year's crop is just as prolific. We've been experiencing a massive heatwave here in Southwest Missouri, and the Fox Cherries are alive, well and filling my sink to overflowing, as you can see in the picture on the left. This is one day's harvest.

Now, what am I doing with all these tomatoes? They're primarily snack food! Chris takes them to work in his sack lunch, Conor munches on them by the bowl full. Plus, we've been tossing them into pasta, slicing them for sandwiches, sharing them with friends, neighbors and even our chickens! And I've been freezing them by the bagful for winter, as well.

And drying them, of course! Here is a great dehydrator recipe for a small batch. Double as necessary:

40 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon basil, oregano, parsley or whatever herb you have on hand or prefer.

Mix all together.  Soak tomatoes in marinade overnight, or at least 4 hours.

To dehydrate, put the marinated tomatoes skin side down on your dehydrator rack and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Dry at 125 degrees approximately 5 to 9 hours. Just be sure to check frequently after 5 hours.

These are fantastic! I store mine in the freezer. But if they are completely dry, you can store them in the pantry.