This year, I'm not sure what's gone on with the tomato crop but it's been a little on the pathetic side. And it's not just me. My Dad has an allotment and hasn't had much success either. Looking around the internet it seems to be a bit of a phenomenon this year. Bearing in mind all the effort that goes into growing them from seed, potting on and feeding and watering, it's pretty disheartening but there's really not a lot that can be done now.
I have had a couple of pickings and one lot I set aside to make some sun blush tomatoes. I'm quite a fan of these in recipes, more so than the sometimes too intense flavour of sun dried. However, they're really flippin' expensive in the shops, so if you have some tomatoes you want to use up, and a clean jar, then you can easily make your own.
First, sterilise the jar. This can be done either on a hot wash in the dishwasher or in the oven. It's the same process as you would do if you've ever made jam or chutney, etc. Put the oven on to warm up on the lowest setting. My one starts at 80 degrees centigrade so that's what I left it on.
Next, chop the tomatoes in half, and lay them skin side down on a baking tray. I use a magic liner from Lakeland on my trays as it makes cleaning up so much quicker.
Now, drizzle a little olive oil over the cut halves, followed by a teeny sprinkling of salt. It should now look something like this...
Next, pop them in the oven and just leave them alone. For sun blush at this sort of temperature, I'd say about five to six hours. Mine was a little over five but I was going to bed so had to turn it off. I did leave the oven door closed so they would have still been warming in there for a while. Of course it depends on the size too. If you only have cherry tomatoes, then just keep an eye as you don't want them all shrivelled up to nothing.
After this time, you can pull them out and leave them to cool. They should look something like this...
Ooh I'm blushing!
Once they're cooled, grab your jar and just pop them in. Pour in olive oil. Do this gradually to give it chance to seep into all the nooks and crannies and then just make sure it's covering the top. Pop the lid on and you're finished!
I keep mine in the fridge and they last a good while. You can sometimes find that the olive oil sets in the fridge but it's not a problem, just get them out a few minutes before you need to use them and it'll soften enough to get them out.
A much cheaper alternative to shop bought jars and if, like me, you don't spray any of your plants, then also a much healthier way to have these super flavoursome ingredients. Of course you could do this any time of the year with shop bought ones, but I do tend to find a lot of tomatoes in the shops don't always have a lot of flavour, so although the drying will concentrate the flavour, they won't be as tasty as the ones from your garden.