I'm having my most successful year yet with tomatoes and it seems like our CSA farmers are having success too. Usually, I can take care of our fresh tomato production with pizza, sandwiches, and salads, but I'm feeling overwhelmed. Here are some of my ideas to research for using up the tomatoes:
Pizza/pasta sauce (can it maybe?)
I'm sure my harvest is tiny compared to what some of ya'll bring in. How do you handle a glut of tomatoes?
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs” St. Francis of Assisi
I can't see your picture, so I don't know how much is too much. If you go with a salad, that's maybe 1/2 tomatoes per person per meal. So, to use them more effectively, I'd indeed put them in a sauce (or several).
Four about 2 person's worth of sauce, I go with 8 oz of cream cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper, and 6 to 7 tomatoes, and either garlic, herbs or oinions.
You can also cook a batch of several sauces and freeze them. There are also some recipes, such as osso bucco that require to stew in a tomato sauce. With this recipe for example, you can replace the can tomatoes with about 10 to 12 tomatoes (for 6 persons, but you can freeze the rest).
Seeing that you're in Texas, which I hear has a very dry climate, I would recommend simple low tech drying. No need for a special apparatus like a dehydrator.
My dried tomatoes are super yummy. I use them:
1) eaten out of hand like dried fruit.
2) thrown whole into curries and stews to reconsitute in place.
3) reconstituted and used all winter for spaghetti sauce, curries, etc.
4) powdered in the blender while bone dry, and then either used as popcorn sprinkle (oh my glob!) or used in cooking like puree.
5) Partially reconstituted and then soaked in oil for "sun-dried tomatoes."
Here are my tips:
-- Cut the tomatoes radially like slices of an orange and stand them up skin-side-down initially. Otherwise they stick to the trays badly. Laying down flat slices is an exercise in frustration the next day. I cut them into kinda skinny pieces so they'll dry faster and make space for tomorrow's harvest.
-- By the second day in the desert air they aren't sticky and can be pushed together on a smaller plate to make space for more. After a few more days when they seem almost totally dry, pile them loosely in a pot or jar for final complete drying, for several days or a week.
-- I use all the plates and trays I can scrounge around my house. In my experience, silicone screens and non-stick trays are unnecessary for tomatoes in the high desert.
-- I try to screen flies off them. Although I am not always able to make a secure screened area, I have never had any flies or larva turn up in my dried vegetables.
-- It is the movement of dry air across the vegetables that removes the moisture. Added heat is not necessary.If you're in a humid climate, added heat will make the air relatively drier and able to carry off more moisture, but in Texas, that is probably not necessary. A lot of people make this mistake. You're not aiming to cook the tomatoes, just dry them.
If you have the option to dry not in direct sun it's better because your food will lose fewer nutrients. Sorry I can't direct you to the study that shows that which was about mangoes in Africa, but you can probably find it online.
A quick way to use 4 to 6 depending on size is tuna stuffed tomatoes.
I just cut in half and trim a thin strip so they sit even on a tray. Top with some tuna mix. Lay on some thin strips of cheese and broil for just a minute or so if you want cheese melted (which my husband prefers). Makes a super quick meal.
Make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce! Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash/zucchini, mushrooms, onions, carrots, maybe some ground beef and/or pork sausage. Good to have a few bags around in the freezer for a quick winter meal that will remind you of summer's bounty!
You have to be tough or dumb - and if you're dumb enough, you don't have to be so tough...