using cherry tomatoes

zippity_duda(6)July 14, 2007

I have two cherry tomato plants that are producing a couple of pints of toms a day it seems. Does anyone have any good ways to store them? It is just me and the hubby and we can't keep up. Right now I am giving lots of them away, but if I could also save some for later, that would be good.

Also, my roma tomatoes are mushy (from excess heat I've been told????) since the weather is cooling off, will these recover and produce edible toms, or should I just pitch them all now and make room for some fall crops?

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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


I like to dry cherry tomatoes --- I slice 'em in half, put cut side up on a cookie tray, salt lightly if desired, and pop 'em in the oven at 150 to 200 degrees. After about 2 hours, I start checking every half hour or so until they are done --- meaning dry and leathery but not brown or crispy.

It takes anywhere from 2.5 to 6 or so hours to do this, much faster than romas, and I find the small size really convenient to use because they need no chopping --- I throw them into pasta dishes or salads. Or with a spray of olive oil and a bit of salt I eat 'em whole!

If you are sure they are 100% dried you can keep these at room temp. in a jar; I keep them in a baggie in the freezer just in case, because sometimes there is a trace of moisture left and a batch gets mouldy, which makes me sad.

Good luck, and congrats on your great tomato harvest!


    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 10:50PM
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    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 9:10AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

I usually do what zabby does - unfortunately, my cherry tom's didn't do well. For those I did harvest, I made fresh salsa out of them.

Very easy:

Chop tomatoes small.
Add chopped green peppers.
Add garlic - to your taste.
Hot peppers or canned jalapenos (to taste).
Chop onions and add.
Salt and pepper, vinegar to taste.

Pack 1/2 pint freezer containers - then freeze.

A food processor can be used - but I prefer to hand-chop the tomatoes - as it gets a bit watery otherwise.

This is easy when summer veggies are right, but if I have no cilantro then, it can be added when served. Unless I have some frozen/dried cilantro, but dried cilantro is usually lacking in flavor.

This is a nice side dish to a meat and potato meal, or with Mexican foods, like tacos, beans, sausage or casseroles.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 10:09AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Mushy romas?? Odd. Usually excessive heat and rapid growth will give you BER (blossom end rot) which usually shows up as a sunken brown area at the tip of the tomatoes, and can consume most of the tomato. Here, I would get that condition on most of my very long and slender plum types, if we have really a hot summer. I have to add calcium to the soil, as well as spray the foliage calcium chloride to assist in getting the calcium to the tomatoes faster. Suggest that you don't allow the romas to remain on the plants beyond a few days of turning red. Sometimes they can get very soft if they are overripe. I would hate to toss out bearing tomato plants right now. Hope this helps..

Cilantro is one of those herbs that only taste good when fresh. Drying it will give you tasteless green bits. Its the volitile oils that break down too quickly that affect its flavor.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 10:40AM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

You can also freeze your cherry toms. Just rinse and toss into ziploc bags.
Use in soups and sauces all winter for some "fresh tomato" flavor!!

And they're fun.........they sound like marbles once they're frozen!!


    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 1:25PM
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I'm for drying cherry toms too. Slice in half and place cut side up on dehydrator tray. Sprinkle with Zatarain's Creole Seasoning (mostly salt) and dry at temps in the 130°F range. 2-4 days. They are ready when you put in capped jar and condensation doesn't form after a day or so. (I learned all this here!) If moisture collects, then back into dehydrator. Put the filled jar upside down to see if moisture will form on upper glass surface.

Just this morning I was emailing a cyber-friend about drying some of my Sungold toms. They are very flavorful and my fav cherry type. And I have a bunch ripening every day now.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 2:21PM
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I am very interested in this method of drying cherry toms. I grew from seed some large red cherries and they all lived so I planted ALL of them...6. Plus I have four sungolds. I am overloaded with cherries and often feed some to the chickens. But then I saw some at the farmers market and they wanted $3 for a strawberry basket and I felt like I was throwing gold to my hens! From now on they'll have to stick to bugs and the over ripe toms that I have missed!
So my question is about the use of the dried toms. Tell me what you use them in. How do you prep them first (after they are dried and before using them in a dish)? Any recipes??

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 2:06AM
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moosemac(Z5 NH / Z3-4 ME)

I dry my extra cherries in the dehydrator until very crispy then I whirl them in the blender until it makes a powder. I use the powder as a substitute for tomato paste.

I also cut cherries in half, and roast them at 250 with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and oregano until just leathery. Then I freeze them. In the winter, these are a treat on sandwiches, in salad or with some mozzarella and basil.

In both cases, depending on how ambitious I am, I sometimes squeeze the seeds out as I halve the cherries during prep.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 7:23AM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

I also dry my cherry tomatoes (dehydrator). I sprinkle them with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, anything I feel like before drying (sometimes I dry with nothing and label as such).

I put them on pizzas, in pasta sauces, in salads, in soups, on sandwiches, and actually I simply snack on them (better than a chocolate bar in my opinion). They need no prep for any of this, just use them. In most cases I don't even thaw them first because they thaw so quickly.

Sungolds are wonderful, but I have to say my favorite are the Purple Cherry.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 10:50AM
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Dr Carolyn is a wonderful tomato and was my fav for years. I think was once called Ivory Mutant. This is one cherry that I had to pick in the afternoons to reduce splitting after picking. Brandywine Cherry is another good one and is rather large.

I use the dried ones like you would raisins or Craisins.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 1:19PM
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My dau and grandkids....

Caught quite a few, but not very many keepers. I'll be going by myself tomorrow morrning & we will be going as a family on Friday. Life is good!!!!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:46PM
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Sorry about that!!! Posted in the wrong forum.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:48PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)'re forgiven........that grand-daughter is sure a cutie.

Looks like all had fun!
Now THAT'S livin'.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 6:25PM
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So do you core and seed the cherry tomatoes before dehydrating?


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 10:14PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Bryce, no, no need to core or seed them. I just slice them in half, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and herbs, place them cut-side up on the drying rack (cut side down would stick to the rack more I think) and dry.

Like zabby, I freeze them after drying. I just put them in a ziploc and freeze.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:59AM
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Like up to my eyeballs said, cherry toms at the store can be expensive and I so want to enjoy my goodies all year. I have so many that I will try a batch dried, and a batch frozen and go from there. I am so glad there is no need to core and deseed....

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 6:19PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

oh, heck, I don't core and seed either. The great thing about doing this with cherry toms is that it is NOT a huge, long job --- I take 15 minutes to slice up a batch (2 cookie trays' worth or so), put 'em in the oven, and by the time I go to bed they're done.

Now, the one pain with some cherry toms is that they're not all the same size by a long shot, so some dry faster than others. (Depends on the variety; Black Cherry or Galinas [my fave] or Dr. Carolyn [also lovely --- I think it is derived from Galinas] will be mostly about the same size, but Sweet 100 or Sungold grow in trusses with bigger at one end and smaller at the other.) SO if I have those kinds in there, what I end up doing is checking every half hour or so, and quickly picking out those that are done. Now that I can spot the done ones easily, this takes no more than a minute or so.

What do I use them for? I put them in pasta dishes or in salads most often. I also blend them up in dips or salad dressing. Or I eat them for a snack. The Sungolds, especially, are SO sweet when dried, they are almost like little raisins or figs. I used some once, in fact, in a roasted pork recipe that called for dried figs or apricots --- it was VERY yummy.

No prep at all is needed to use them; just take 'em out of the ziploc baggies in the freezer. They defrost within a short time at room temp because they are so small, and they don't need chopping. Often recipes that call for sundried tomatoes will assume you have bought them in a jar packed in olive oil, and will tell you to drain them first. Sometimes the recipe calls for using some of the leftover tomato-y oil, in which case with the home-dried ones you have to add olive oil separately.

I like hte idea of grinding some up into a tomato paste substitute, will have to try that! Have done it with dried hot peppers but not yet with toms. Looks like I will have a BIG tomato harvest this year --- the plants are a jungle already --- so woo hoo!


    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 2:32AM
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Thanks again for the drying ideas. Two days ago I sliced up and seeded a large cookie sheet worth. I popped them in the oven, but my oven is funky. It is either barely warm at 250 or too hot at 350 so I kept switching the temps up and down. It took about 26 hours till they were cripsy.
I didn't season them and I will try that next, but these, sungolds and large red cherry are so sweet. Today I put them into a pasta salad and they were oh so yummy. My son thought they were dried cranberries. You know the craisins that are all sprinkled with sugar. HAHA

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 9:33PM
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