Can you sun dry tomatoes in your car?

Hmmm....  I wonder....

Hmmm…. I wonder…

I remember seeing somewhere the suggestion that it was possible to sun dry tomatoes on a sunny day, in your car.  The concept caught my fancy and I was so intrigued I included it in my book, but the thing is – I’d never tried it….  Until today.

But here we are in our wee drought.  The extended weather forecast doesn’t even hint at a chance of even the slightest drop of rain for days and days to come.   Not only is it dry, its hot.  Not hot by some folks standards, but it is for us.  When people greet each other, “hello” has been surpassed for the more popular version “Its sooo hot!”

Excuse me - may I please interrupt this tomatoey tale to show you a really large carrot I grew as demonstrated by Tim the Helper!  Thank you.

Excuse me – may I please interrupt this tomatoey tale to show you a really large carrot I grew as demonstrated by Tim the Helper! Thank you.

The other day, after I harvested an exceptionally large number of tomatoes, which I didn’t even bother to weigh or record in anyway as the scales would just tell me what I already knew – there was a lot of tomatoes!  More than what I knew what to do with.  I have another problem – there are more on the plants, waiting to be harvested again!  When will this madness end?  Actually, sooner rather than later. Reports are coming in of the dreaded blight striking down tomato plants all over the country.

So as I was cramming tomatoes into the freezer and lingering about the open door longer than was necessary, the sun dried car tomato concept came back to me and I thought “it’s now or never!”  The days aren’t getting any longer, in fact they are getting noticeably shorter, and who knows how long this heat will last and how much longer will I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with.

There isn't much that gets me out of bed before the sun!

There isn’t much that gets me out of bed before the sun!

This morning I got up early – with the sun.  This does not happen often!  And I halved a load of cherry tomatoes and put them in a tin foil lined baking tray and took them out to the car.  Hubby the Un-Gardener was up and about early too.  He had a meeting in the city and needed the car.  There was nothing else for it – he would have to take the tomatoes with him.  He was under strict instructions to drive carefully, don’t corner too sharply and when you get to your meeting  – park in full sun….  not in an undercover parking building.  So off he went to his meeting with my precious cargo.

On his return I made him park the car in the best spot for all day sun and moved the tomatoes to the top of the dashboard.  I could see that even after a few hours they were starting to dry out a little.  Things looked promising!

Now we're cooking!

Now we’re cooking!

Once the kids got home from school, it became obvious that the tomatoes needed to take a couple more journeys – one to boy scouts to drop off and one to pick up again an hour later.  The inside of the car was boiling hot.  Perfect for my tomatoes, but not for small boys.  The Joeyosaurus complained bitterly and even said his breath was coming out too hot!  So I conceded and let him wind down the window, but all I could think of was my hot air leaving the car, and taking that sweet tomatoey aroma, that was starting to develop, away with it!  And I had to park the car in the shade.  On the way back I put the heater on full to try to restore ideal conditions.  I also needed to get petrol and was stoked to find that the only pump in the sunshine was free – and my petrol flap was on the right side – bonus!

While waiting for my tomatoes I finished the job of replacing the wood on the rotten park bench that I started a couple of days ago.  Hubby the Un-Gardener helped drill the holes - but only so I wouldn't be seen to out do him as a handyman!

While waiting for my tomatoes, I finished the job of replacing the wood on the rotten park bench that I started a couple of days ago. Hubby the Un-Gardener helped drill the holes – but only so I wouldn’t be seen to out do him as a handyman!

The trip home was somewhat tropical, but before I knew it I had to go back and collect The Joeyosaurus and managed to get a park were a square of sun was falling onto the floor of the drivers foot well, so I moved the tomatoes there, which was just as well as the boy scouts weren’t quite ready to go home and I had to wait.

I was a bit naughty on the way home and put the heater on just a little bit and it wasn’t even noticed!  I hurried my boy out of the car faster than he’d gone before, so I didn’t lose my heat and moved the car to where it would best receive the evening light.

They look all dried out! I think I did it!

They look all dried out! I think I did it!

Now darkness has fallen and I went to retrieve my experiment from the car and I have to say I have the most delicious batch of semi-dried tomatoes ever!  I think if I wanted them dried further, I’d put them out again tomorrow, but tomorrows car schedule is even more complicated than todays and the shrivelled red orbs will go great in a salad as they are or with cheese and crackers, or even just by themselves – any way they will be fantastic.

I have to say it was a success.  Yes – you can sun dry tomatoes in your car!

Oh what a result!  Yummo!

Oh what a result! Yummo!

Come again soon – I think the heat is getting to me!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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17 responses to “Can you sun dry tomatoes in your car?

  1. Oh boy what an adventure! :) This is on my list for the summer, not using the car mind, but trying to sundry them. I’m curious how that will work.

    • Hi there. I think maybe in hindsight, the car could have easily been swapped for the greenhouse as it is really hot in there. Having said that the car thing was heaps of fun! I have a dehydrator but it takes ages and you have to worry about how much it actually costs.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. Those are very well traveled tomatoes! Too funny. I’m not surprised they semi-dried in the car…the interior of a vehicle can reach over 120* in the sun very, very quickly. What a fun experiment.

  3. And thus begins the new adventure in drying techniques ;). What next Sarah? I guess car dried kids is already on the cards ;). I would imagine that anything somewhat soft would do well drying in your car, especially if you didn’t have to use it too much. We only use our car infrequently and when we decided to put the dogs out of their hot misery yesterday and take them to the river version of “the beach” the car could have cooked a roast dinner it was that hot! I ended up with a very naughty dog (who jumped from the front to the back) riding on my lap with his head out of the window howling in delight at the delicious wind on his nose! Yup…cars can cook more than dogs on a hot day!

    • Hi Fran. When I was a kid, cars had vinyl seats and to this day remember the burning hot journeys where you would actually stick to the seats. People should have been harnessing this searing heat energy from cars for yonks, and yet this opportunity has been missed. Just imagine it… new cars coming out with a cooker feature! People could cook their dinner on the long commute home from work! (you saw it here first!)
      Cheers Sarah : o )

      • I once saw a television show about a man who was going on a long journey and he wrapped his food in alfoil and put it on the car engine and at the end of his journey the food was cooked so there are more ways to cook in a car! Cars might be our new microwaves ;). I stuck to those very self same vinyl seats Sarah…I think cars were actually designed to be torture devices for children. I was born and raised in Western Australia where it gets nice and hot in summer and everyone goes to the beaches in droves and by the time you got from your house to the beach you were stuck to the seat and on the way back, you didn’t stick because you were covered in sand! ;) I bet you could cook (well wrapped) food on the car exhaust as well… I gets hot…you might be onto something here Sarah! We just need some bright spark with the techy ability to make interesting shaped cooking pots that will fit in these tight fitting spaces and “Green-Tea” enterprises wil be away! You could be the next Bill Gates ;)

  4. blight striking down tomato plants all over the country. Blight is a fungus infection and as such favors damp cooler conditions. maybe with your hot dry weather conditions you will be spared a blight attack.

    • Hi there. I really hope I miss the blight. It is so devastating as it comes on so quickly and doesn’t even spare the fruit. Having said that, my freezer is full of tomatoes so if they do get it, all won’t have been in vain.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  5. :-( how do I subscribe to get email notifications of your latest postings?
    Thanks and happy summer gardening

    • Hi there. Choose to follow the blog by clicking on the ‘follow’ button on the top bar when reading my blog.
      Then click on the ‘reader’ section on the blue bar (with ‘stats’ and ‘my blogs’ etc on it) at the top of your screen, then on the right hand side is ‘blogs I follow’ and to the right of that is a link to ‘edit’. Click on this and up comes a list of everyone you follow with another link called ‘edit’ beside each one. Click on this and it will give you the option of having an email notification for new posts.
      I hope this helps.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  6. I dried tomatoes in my car last summer. I think I got the idea from another blogger. It took a couple of days and my daughter did not let me forget how much she didn’t like the smell in the car, lol. I will definitely be doing it again this summer. Yum!

    • Hi there. Drying tomatoes in the car is loads of fun, if not a little silly. I really enjoyed it and probably would have given it another day if the car schedule wasn’t so crazy. It’s got me wondering about cooking other things in unusual ways. I vaguely remember seeing something somewhere that suggested a pile of freshly cut grass is hot enough to bake stuff…. hmmm I wonder….
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  7. Lucky you having all that heat to sun-dry anything! If I tried that here the poor old tomatoes would probably go mouldy before they even thought about drying!! If I have a glut of toms, I usually roast them with a wee bit of garlic, seasoning and Olive oil, and when they’re nice and mushy, strain them through a fine mesh sieve and freeze, ready to use in all kinds of sauces!
    Christine

    • Hi Christine. Normally I just lob my tomatos into the freezer as is. Then when I need them I just run them under the tap to slip the skins off and add them to whatever needs them. In the heat of summer, its just too much effort to be standing over a hot stove. Drying the tomatoes in the car was just a bit of fun to see what could be done. I’m quite curious with my gardening endeavours.
      Having said that – your way sounds nice, can I come for dinner?
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  8. Ever since I read your book I wondered if the car tomatoes would be a success. I usually slow roast my tomatoes in a very low oven but it’s on for about 4 hours, I hate to think of the electricity its wasting.
    What did the car end up smelling like after?

    • Hi Jess. I am sorry for such a late reply but I have only just found this comment. I think drying tomatoes in the car can be labelled a success. It really does have to be one of those hot sunny summer days, and I used small tomatoes. They were semi-dried not hard dried, however another day in the car would have done it. The car smelt a little tomatoey but not for long. It was fun to try it out.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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