Monday, September 29, 2008

Tomatoes, figs, dried fruit, and bake sale prep

DRIED TOMATOES: Friday, I received my 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator - a bargain at $149 for a refurbished demo model (not a refurbished customer model) with shipping included. It looks brand new -- it has no "blemishes" on the case as described in the Ebay ad and if I didn't know any better, I'd say it was new.

Saturday, I put it to work right away on some Principe Borghese tomatoes - they are smaller than some of my cherry tomatoes.

1 - 16 oz jar dried tomatoes
1 - 8 oz jar dried tomatoes

YELLOW KETCHUP: Sunday, I put a couple pots of tomatoes on -- one full of 5# of yellow and orange tomatoes for ketchup and another of around 6# for marinara sauce. For the ketchup, I found a lot of recipes and even one ketchup recipe on a site that lets you customize the yield and adjusts the quantities of ingredients.

  • 5# seeded and halved tomatoes - cook down and process in food mill to remove skins, return to pot.
  • 1/2 large onion, pureed in blender or food processor
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
In a small sauce pot, simmer:
  • 2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 stick Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1.5 Tbs cloves
  • 1 Tsp fenugreek seed
  • Pinch chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seed

Reduce the vinegar by 50% over low flame (you don't want to boil it off too quickly!)

Strain and add vinegar to pot with tomato sauce, onion and garlic. Cook down and then put in a slow cooker on low until it reaches a consistency you like. Puree in blender to reduce the rest of onion & garlc pieces. Can or store in refrigerator.

4 c orange ketchup

TOMATO SAUCE: Six pounds of tomatoes cooks down to just enough sauce for two plates of fresh rotini pasta, and leftovers for four lunches, after you've added herbs and vegetables.

GARDEN MARINARA RECIPE: 6# fresh tomatoes, seeded & halved - cook down and process in food mill to remove skins, return to pot.

Sautee in olive oil until soft:
  • 1/2 large white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

Add to sauce bring to simmer:
  • 4-5 2" basil plant tops, chiffonade & chopped
  • 4-5 2" oregano sprigs, chopped

10 4" zucchini (or courgettes) cut into 1/2" rounds, sauteed until soft - add to sauce right before serving.

YIELD: about 10 cups sauce with vegetables
2 dinners over fresh rotini pasta with bread
4 lunch portions of pasta sauce

FIG PRESERVES: James' mom brought us some delicious figs from her neighobor's garden in Sacramento. "I brought you four dozen figs!" she exclaimed. We we curious to know why the figure was so exact and then impressed with her genius -- to keep the very ripe figs from crushing under their weight, she put them into egg cartons!

I brought home 2 dozen figs and decided to turn them into jam.

24 ripe figs, halved and mashed
1.5 c sugar
1/4 c lemon juice

Simmer figs in 1-2 cups of water until soft and mash. Measure - you should have about 4 cups of figs & water. Add the lemon juice and follow the pectin instructions -- in my case, 3 tsp of calcium water, and 4 tsp of pectin added to the sugar before mixing it into the preserves.

2 12 oz recycled jars, stored in the fridge (one for me, one for James)

DEHYDRATING: The new Excalibur works great! I dried tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. The Principe Borghese tomatoes from Saturday came out on Sunday and are about the size of dried cherries. I also dried some of the other cherry tomatoes -- the volunteer cherries came out about the same as the Principe Borghese, while the Black Cherry, Blondkopfchen and Aunt Ruby's Yellow Cherry tomatoes were a bit smaller.

I also put in the rest of the Asian pears I had been saving in the refrigerator, along with a whole cantalope sliced up, and the rest of the red flesh apples and a few other apples I had been saving.

1 1.5 liter baling wire jar of thin dried fruit slices (I'll try to photograph before I eat them all)

(UN)BAKING: Last but not least - I also put together a double batch of lemon bars from the "Joy of Vegan Baking" cookbook, and started the Cafe Gratitude raw coconut cream pie recipe (but ran out of time and energy).

BIG THANKS to Lisa for coming over and helping to halve and seed tomatoes for the dehydrator, mill tomatoes, clean dishes and keep me company - we had a lot of fun for a few hours and it was really good to have some help. She also loaned her slow cooker so I could put the ketchup in it overnight.


A Slice of the Pie said...

Wow, you've been busy. How do you find time to do all this?

Jenn said...

That's all I did on Sunday - all day. I had chai and watched the end of a movie with James, then we had backgammon and cinnamon roll in the backyard. He left around 12:15, from 12:30 to 8:30, I cooked (except for about 30 minutes to run to the store). I had a friend over for several hours to help with some of the tomato-related stuff. Then, I got up at 4AM this morning and washed the remainder of the pots from the sauce, ketchup, skillet and dinner plates and went back to bed. Then I got up at 7:00 and wiped down the counters and killed more ants, got dressed and went to work.

Maria Rose said...

Oh man, you've given me some inspiration. I have been on the fence about a dehydrator.

Kati said...

Hope you enjoy your Excalibur - I like mine very much. Sounds like you've already broken it in!

Kale for Sale said...

Thanks for the ketchup recipe. And I love the mental picture of the figs in the egg cartons. To bad peaches wouldn't fit in egg cartons. They are the hardest damn things to get home unbruised.

Jenn said...

I have been taking pictures but haven't uploaded them yet!