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!”
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
Come again soon – I think the heat is getting to me!
Sarah the Gardener : o )