My final harvest of the season is always a bittersweet event. In October, I harvest seeds from all over my garden and dry them for next year’s flower beds. I snip all the remaining basil, thyme, and mint and gather the green tomatoes off the vines for bag ripening. My kitchen is strewn with plates of herbs drying in the cupboards, and bowls of seeds on the table and counters with paper scraps identifying the color and habit of this or that poesy. I clean and freeze fruit, and prepare batches of chutney and jam. It is great way to preserve the flavors of summer, but also an opportunity for reflection (remember that warm day we picked these plums?) and projection (these climbing nasturtiums might do better on that south wall next year). I’ve had some inquiries on how I dry my ripened tomatoes, so I thought I’d give you the instructions. I love to make them with specialty salts, which is an endless experiment because there are so many fantastic salts available now. You can, though, just use regular salt or none at all, and you will have intense sweet dried tomatoes to improve the flavor of almost anything you are cooking this winter. You will need an oven with a dehydrate setting or a temperature setting of 140 degrees, or you can get a counter top food dehydrator for $50.00 that will work just fine.
2 large garden tomatoes, sliced into 12 pieces each (or the equivalent volume of halved cherry tomatoes)
1 tsp. of black truffle sea salt (or plain salt)
Cut your tomatoes each into 12 wedges. Lay them on a broiler pan and set the drip pan underneath. Sprinkle each wedge very lightly with your salt. A little goes a long way, so just a pinch for each wedge. Set your oven to dehydrate or 140 degrees and dry for 12-15 hours. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.