A Journey to Grow a Little Food Close to Home

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saving the Harvest

When your getting pounds and pounds of tomatoes and you have basil that is growing like a weed, what do you do? You find a way to preserve it, that's what!

I was complaining about too much basil last year already and a coworker gave me a pesto recipe which is AMAZING!!! It's great for those times when you have this:

Here's the recipe...

2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. pine nuts (option-roasted)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Romano cheese
2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
3 Tbs. Butter

Put basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and salt in food processor. Proccess to form pesto (i.e. past consistency). Add butter and cheeses and proccessed until mixed.

When all ingredients have been processed, you can freeze what you have made like this:
The great part about basil is that it grows like a weed so even if you chop it all down (ok - leave a little of the plant), it will regrow quickly so that you can make pesto all season for winter storage!

Now...about those tomatoes. I have posted before that I have a Super 100 cherry tomato plant that is producing like crazy. I did a little hunting and found some recipes for dried tomatoes. Notice that I didn't say 'sun dried.' It's too humid here in the summer to sun dry. If you are lucky enough to have dry heat, have fun sun drying! If not, an oven will work just fine.

I made three batches of dried tomatoes over the weekend. The first was simply the tomatoes cut in half (skin on), placed cut side up on a cookie sheet, lightly salted, and cooked at 200 degrees for about 4 hours. The salt not only tames the acid flavor of the tomato but halps to draw the moisture out. You've got to use low heat for this process because you can't let the tomatoes cook (212 is boiling and thus cooking temperature). You only want to have the water evaporate out of the tomato - NOT have it cook.

While that was cooking I mixed up the next batch:

1/4 cup Extra-vergin olive oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Italian parsley finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients in a bowl (I used a food processor first) and stir in tomatoes which are cut in half (skin on). Allow to soak (the longer, the stronger the flavor and the longer the drying time).

After the soak, again, place on cookie sheet and dry at 200 degrees until leathery.

For a different flavor, I tried this:

1 tsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Minced Garlic
1 tbsp. Minced Fresh Oregano
1 tbsp. Minced Fresh Thyme
2 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients (I, again, used a food processor) and spoon a small amount onto each tomato half.

Again, you guessed it, dry at 200 degrees until leathery.

Here is the finished product:
Storing them in mason jars would have been more authentic but I didn't have any so the bags will have to do. Oh well...function over form, I guess.

I should be able to make just as many again before the plant is done for the year (along with eating them fresh, of course)!!


  1. It really looks delicious. I would love to try your recipe. My tomato plants are also dying because it is already cold out here. I just hope that before it dies I can make some salsa and some of your recipe.

  2. Next summer I am going to make some quickhoops so that I can cover the plants with plastic when it get's cooler. I live close to Lake Michigan so it's almost never hot. Personally, I love the weather but the tomatoes and peppers just look at me like 'Really? Come on. You want us to grow in this?'

  3. Pesto is really the best especially when the ingredients are fresh from your garden. Great photos! They really look delicious. I will make some pesto for our family reunion.

  4. I also have problem with basil that grows like weeds. Sometimes I used to sell it in my neighbors that doesn’t have garden. Thanks for giving me another idea on how to preserve my harvest.