27 September 2015

Sun-drying tomatoes

One of the tomato varieties I regularly grow is Principe Borghese (I seem to recall that these were a gift from another garden blogger, some years ago). In one of the descriptions online was a note that it used as a sun-dried tomato in Italy. Ever since I read that I've been thinking I should try this, but haven't got around to it until this year.

My oven has a dehydration setting, which is what I used for my first batch, but it was not very successful: even after 24 hours the tomatoes weren't dry and I wasn't impressed at having to leave the oven on for so long. (I did learn that my oven automatically turns itself off after being on for 12 hours, so that was vaguely interesting.)

So, Plan B. Which involves the sun. Much more satisfactory.

My set-up is about as low-tech as it gets. Small tomatoes, cut in half and arranged on a baking tray in the greenhouse. I've put the tray on top of some small plant pots - thinking this might deter crawling insects - and I have loosely wrapped horticultural fleece over the tray. The fleece allows the sun through, while letting moisture evaporate off. It also stops flying insects landing on the tomatoes.

They've only been out there for eight hours and are already looking drier than the first batch did after 12 hours in the oven.

If this works, it really is ridiculously easy!

06 September 2015

All shapes and sizes

I've got three different eggplant varieties growing this year, and so far I've had one fruit from each, with quite a few more to come if it stays warm for a while.

This one, applegreen, is new to me:

Korean early long:

And my favourite, as far as looks go, rosa bianca:

05 September 2015

Peppers (again!)

The hot weather in the last couple of weeks has really been ripening the peppers. I spent a happy ten minutes this morning, picking them.

I roasted the sweet peppers and then pulled the skins off them, once they'd cooled down a bit.

Then I packed them into a jar and pressure canned them for half an hour. This should preserve them over the winter.

I also tried a new trick with the pressure cooker - using it to cook eggs. Fresh eggs are always a pain to peel, but if you cook them in the pressure cooker, they turn out to be extremely easy. I cooked them at the lower pressure setting for six minutes. I think next time I'll do it for four or five, as the yolks were a bit dry for my taste, but this was definitely an experiment that was worth repeating.