Most of us go through a bit more effort to produce a hearty breakfast on our weekends. We sleep in – even longer when its cold and rainy outside – and then we roll out of bed craving our warm coffee mugs and thinking about a mid-morning-comfort-food-breakfast. My weekend breakfast always includes eggs. The smell of eggs crackling in hot olive oil with a bit of salt, pepper, and herbs is delicious. Sometimes I add chunks of fresh white cheese, jibneh, from Ameen’s goat farm. This year I am adding a special treat to my eggs; home-made-sun-dried-tomatoes. Yes. Home-made.
The tomato harvest season was especially short last summer. Random weather swings ruined most of the local heirloom tomato crops. This meant that a limited amount of local heirloom, baladi, tomatoes was available in the market. I bought as many as I could get my hands on. I hadn’t had a tomato since the last summer. And I refuse to surrender to the large-beautiful-pesticide-infested-non-tasty tomato that is available all year long. I made enough sun-dried tomatotes to fill two jars. Enough to give me an injection of satisfaction until the next tomato season.
Sun drying tomatoes is easy and cheaper than buying the imported kind. I also find home-made-sun-dried-tomatoes more tasty than the store bought. This is probably because I choose only the baladi tomatoes to sun-dry. Baladi tomatoes in Palestine are often grown in the traditional ba’ali farming technique in which tomato seedlings are watered only once during the planting. The tomato plant is left to grow and mature without irrigation, eventually producing a flavorful fruit. Tangy and salty right off the vine.
Making your own is simple. You basically slice the tomatoes in halves or quarters, scoop out the juice and seeds, lay them on a large sheet, and sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and your favorite dried herbs. I used rosemary that I picked and dried in the Spring. Put out the large sheet of tomato slices in the sunniest area that you can access. It is important to remember to bring them in during the evening before they are re-moisturized by the sky’s dew. Tomatoes will need two to four days to dry out. Then you stack them in a jar and pour olive oil to cover all the tomatoes. Olive oil is a great medium of preservation. Put away your jars of home-made-sun-dried-tomatoes until the winter when you are craving a taste of the past summer.
I’ve also been using my sun-dried tomatoes in pasta dishes and soup bases. Heaven in the midst of winter’s cold dampness!