Smoked Whole Tomatoes that stay fresh for months ?

namfonJune 2, 2010

Did anyone see the show 'Tyler's Ultimate Pizza' that aired on the Food Network at 9 eastern tonight ?

He was in Naples Italy and was taken to a farm that had huge bunches of whole roma-like tomatoes hung up like large garlic braids. They said that these ( whole ) tomatoes were picked several months earlier and had been smoked. They used them to make pizza.

Does anyone know about this method of preserving tomatoes ?


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This is just air drying as opposed to using and electric or solar dehydrator.
These Italian tomatoes are a paste variety that are low in water content naturally. They are grown in a very warm climate in Italy. On some Italian farms, the tomatoes are pulled up by the roots and the tomatoes, vine and all, are laid over fences surrounding the tomato patch.
Whether you can do it depends on you selection of the proper tomato and your determination whether the climate in your area is warm and dry enough to air dry the tomatoes. It too cold or too moist, tomatoes will rot or mold.
With respect to smoking, hot smoking will also act as a partial dehydrator in that the smoke/air mixture is hotter than the outside environment. If the tomatoes are partially dried in such a "hot" smoker, and then dried until dry in a dehydrator (they will NOT bend in half), then you have removed most of the moisture needed for molds to start growing. If these dried smoked tomatoes are stored in a light environment, they will eventually turn very dark in color but will not spoil in the traditional sense (they will keep better in a dry dark environment).
If you are going to smoke/dry your tomatoes in an apparatus of some type, you can dry any kind of tomato. Just remember that the larger and wetter the interior, the longer it will take to dry. In addition, very moist tomatoes dry up to just about nothing on the dehydrator sheet.
In summary, you need to get a hot smoker, determine the best wood for smoking tomatoes, and then remove them to a dehydrator for final drying (This assumes you live in 95% of the United States and not the Mojave Desert or the Nevada Desert - or a few other places in the United States where air drying might be feasible because of a hot dry environment). Yes, and if you do live in such places, growing tomatoes becomes an art as it usually gets too hot for the tomatoes to set. It is probably hot and dry enough where I live but I frankly do not like flies sitting and s------g on my drying tomatoes. Flies test a potential edible surface by vomiting up on the surface and then sucking it back through a hollow mouth piece. Na, it don't want to eat that!
Just my thoughts having done and thought about this before.
Hope this helps a little.
Jim in So Calif

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 7:15AM
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Having seen the show, though, the tomatoes were wet and juicy inside, not shriveled or hard like a dried tomato.

They were cut with a knife and produced enough liquid to make a sauce all by themselves, in their "dried, smoked" form.

They looked and acted identical to a fresh tomato except that they were supposed to be 2-3 months old.

I am very curious and would love to know how this is done.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 11:32AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I haven't verified for accuracy, but I do remember reading about dried tomatoes hung this way in Italy (not necessarily smoked but the same principle).

If you check Lynne Rosetto Kasper's "Splendid Table"/NPR website, I believe she had an article on this. If not, she's the person to ask.

I'm with Jim, though. First, we're not Italy and you'd have to have the right kind of climate/drying conditions. In most parts of the U.S. that would be difficult to achieve. Having grown up with drying "au naturel" I share his reluctance to return to that method.

Secondly, with long slow drying/smoking (as in an old smokehouse) there would be a period when the tomatoes are still liquid in the center because they're not fully dried. But they aren't going to stay that way indefinitely unless you remove them and hang/store them in cold conditions to prevent spoilage. Today that would normally be a refrigerator or freezer. Traditionally it would be a stillroom or cool dry cellar which in winter would be at a temperature akin to that of a refrigerator.

So you can smoke the tomatoes and stop the process before the center is fully dried then refrigerate or freeze but not at "room-temperature" unless you have a darned cold room.

After all, in the winter Italian outbuildings can get darned chilly.

At the link is an article for drying/smoking tomatoes but it's basically a pictorial method of what Jim recommended.


Here is a link that might be useful: Simple Method for Smoked Tomatoes

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 1:25PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Looking further, I did find this discussion on the Tomatoes forum which may add a little additional insight.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes Forum Discussion of Smoked Tomatoes

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 1:32PM
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I saw the show also. It's more about the tomato variety, climate and soil than the smoke. In fact I've read quite a bit about them and Tyler's show is the only place that mentioned anything about smoke. If smoke is used it would have to be cold smoke and I presume that it's to keep flys off the tomatoes. The tomatoes can last for up to seven months and are not eaten fresh to my knowledge. They are picked mostly in June and stored in an airy dry environment from about 40-60*(degrees) for 2-3 months but can last much longer than 2-3 months. It takes that long for them to ripen properly. I've heard they won't ripen very well on the plant. They snip the clusters off the plant and hang them on a rope that's been tied into a loop. The rope is hung from a large saw horse looking wooden frame with nails to hang the ropes on. The snipped trusses are draped over the rope one at a time eventually forming a large cluster similar to a ristra of peppers. The area where this is popular is around Mt Vesuvius south of Naples. I would imagine the volcanic soil has a lot to do with make up of these tomatoes. They are supposedly high sugar content and lower acid which they say helps with the long keeping aspect. They have a "Piennello Tomato Festival" in September every year. That's when the tomatoes are ripe from the June harvest.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 9:40PM
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jonas302(central mn 4)

mmmn smoked tomatoes another thing to add to my list to stick in the smoker I just pulled some Canadian bacon out

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 10:39PM
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instar8(Z 5 N.IN)

I saw that show, and was also intrigued...i recognize the variety, 'principe borghese', i think i'm spelling that right...the size and that little nipple are pretty distinctive.

Hadn't been real impressed with the variety before this came up, I have some in the garden right now, and the vines are mostly dead...though the tomatoes are holding up and firm, many of them have been lying on the ground for some time. we have a Weber bullet, gonna fire it up this weekend for ribs anyway, definitely gonna give this a try!

Keep ya posted...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 11:28AM
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instar8(Z 5 N.IN)

I found a P.B. tomato pic, tried to get it to post, but you'll just have to follow the link...;~(

Here is a link that might be useful: principe borghese tomatoes

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 12:42PM
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I've grown Principe Borghese heirloom tomatoes for several years. I've even converted my DH from growing Roma's and San Marzano paste tomatoes because of the taste! They make the most wonderful sauce and paste ever - quick to cook down and have a very rich tomato flavor. Rather small (maybe the size of an elongated ping-pong ball), meaty, tiny seeds, not much gel, though they have a kinda tough skin from being homegrown but for canning I put them through the Squeezo anyway so no prob there. I dry them in my dehydrator and they get dark chewy but not brittle. Perfect for snipping and re-hydrating in the heat of hot pasta dishes. (I store them in the freezer, not on the shelf.) Last year I made Tomato Jam from fresh-picked and it was totally heavenly. The plant is very, very prolific with clusters of small fruits that must be supported by a cage (easiest) or panty-hose-bagged and tied regularly on a fence as the stems are not strong enough to support the weight of the clusters and will break easily. If this is the heirloom tomato they said the Italians pulled up green and hung to air-dry, then they missed the boat on picking them fully ripe and succulent from the vine. Maybe their climate, but not here in No.Amer.

As for smoking, I think a mist of Liquid Smoke would do the trick before dehydrating them. Putting them in a real smoker would only damage the fragile taste as smoking is a long, hot, humid method that would invite mold before being "done", IMHO. For a quick smoking, I would suggest putting them fresh on the grill when you are adding a pan of alder or apple wood chips for smoke/grilling fish/poultry for dinner. Long term storage of them smoked that way would not work, IMHO again.

The best part is that you can easily collect the seeds from two (or more) over-ripe tomatoes and have enough seeds for 20 or more plants next year for free. (How to = push out the seeds and gel from the tomatoes - discard the skin and meat. Put in small cup with twice as much water to cover and wait three days at room temp - not on the window sill. Pour off floaters and scum and add more water. Wait a couple of days then rinse and drain through a fine mesh tea strainer. Tap and space out the seeds on a paper towel and let air dry at room temp for several days. Lift off and package airtight and dark. Plant next year - early inside in the North, or direct sow in March-April in the South.)


    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 7:35PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

I just saw a Tyler Florence episode last night on the Cooking Channel. He was at a lady's home in Italy and it looked like tomatoes were in bunches hanging from the ceiling like garlic braids or in mesh nets if I remember correctly--I couldn't tell if still attached to plants or not. She was making a pizza, and she took the tomatoes and broke them by hand as if they were just taken from the garden. They were claimed to be smoked.

I don't know if this is the same episode or not that others have mentioned, but I must say that I have a smoker and have hot smoked sliced tomatoes as well as regularly smoke jalapenos and many other hot pepper varieties to later grind to a powder using a coffee bean grinder or food processor or electric chopper (all depends on amount.)

I have never seen tomatoes smoked that look "normal." These on the show may have been Principe Borghese or however it's spelled, but still clueless as to how this can be possible. I'll crosspost this in Tomatoes forum & Harvest forum too. It looks like the link from above is the only way to get to it--it doesn't return to the top of the page on the Tomatoes forum.

Any comments still welcome!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 8:35PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 10:22AM
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Beautiful picture--is it of the months old tomatoes? Has anyone discovered a method?

I actually saw tomatoes similar to the Tyler Florence ones on a PBS show about Italy (wish I had checked the name of the show, but I caught it in the middle). The show was not about cooking. Every house had bunches of the red tomatoes just like the picture hanging on their porches, and it was wintertime in Italy (everyone was wearing heavy coats).


    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 1:52PM
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Found a link describing how it is done.

Here is a link that might be useful: How the Italians hold tomatoes over the winter

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 7:34PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

sharonann, those were the ones instar linked to, but they also look similar to the ones in the Tyler Florence show--at least the bunches, which were hanging from ther ceiling in the lady's kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 8:37PM
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My gosh, smoked tomatoes sounds fantastic at midnight when a person is lurking on the internet and subject to the power of suggestion. With some yummy cheese....

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 3:18AM
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