This past weekend we decided it was time to pull out tomato plants and start putting our garden to rest. It has been such a wonderful and warm fall, but we know the cold weather is right around the corner, and we may not feel like spending hours in the garden. So we went out as a family team and pulled the tomato plants out of the ground, composting the leaves and stems and harvesting any green tomatoes that were left on the stems.
This garden task was especially fun for kids, since it seemed somewhat destructive and allowed them (especially our son Alexander) to be ruthless with the clippers. Our daughter Elena loved adding to the compost pile.
When we were done, we had about 6 HUGE bowls of green tomatoes! Now what do we do? We have way too many tomatoes to line them all up in the window to ripen, so we bagged them in brown paper bags with a few apples (which let off a gas to induce ripening of fruits). I’ve put these aside and will check on them as they begin to ripen. As they turn a beautiful color red, I can tell you that there is no way we can eat all these tomatoes. We will be giving many away as gifts, and making lots of beautiful tomato sauce. But do you know what my favorite thing is to do with extra tomatoes? Dry them! I put my tomatoes in a dehydrator, sliced, overnight on medium heat. In the morning, they are delicious potent leathery (and sometimes crispy) snacks. I put them in my eggs, soups, sandwiches, or (as I did this morning) I eat them like chips. I have even made appetizers out of them by layering tomato “chips” with cheese. To save them, I put them in glass jars with a little olive oil—a beautiful and delicious gift! The dehydrator is great for many other things from bananas and apples to kale and zucchini.