Monday, 5 September 2011

‘what’s that got to do with the price of tomatoes’


Preserving food by solar drying requires no energy except the heat of the sun. Once dried it also requires no energy to maintain it while stored. Related expenses are practically nothing, and little storage space is required. Drying food is easy to do and doesn’t require any special skills or equipment, and you´re  reducing your carbon footprint.Can´t be bad?

The trick:
I recently noticed a car parked in the local market car park. On the dashboard were a whole range of chilli´s drying in the sun, and then this idea came to me.

A car and a hot sunny day: It sounds strange,using your car as an energy efficient oven.  Spread the tomato slices out on shallow trays. Put the trays on the dashboard of your car,  roll all the windows up and park in the sunniest spot you can find. It's best to start in the early morning and finish when the sun sets.  It may take 2 days - but  bring the tomatoes back into the house overnight. Some people,like myself prefer to sprinkle the tomatoes with flor de sal  and/or some spices (typically basil). 


SUN DRYING depends on the weather, the temperature and relative humidity outside. If you live in a hot, dry climate, sun drying may be successful. Its advantage is the cost. The only investments are drying trays, netting to protect against insects and the food itself. Its main disadvantage is time. What would take 6 to 10 hours to dry using another method may take 3 to 5 days in the sun. To avoid scorching, move the food into the shade to finish when it is about two-thirds dry.
SOLAR DRYING is like sun drying only better. You are still dependent on the weather but the sun's rays are concentrated so drying time is shortened.No need for special equiment and if using the car as your de-hydrator it is protected from insects, particularly ants.

The result, a winter fuel of Sun-dried goodness
TIPS: 
* Store dried vegetables in cloth or paper bags to allow any remaining moisture to   
  evaporate. Sundried tomatoes can alternatively be bottled in good quality Olive oil.

* Use good quality fresh produce that is just ripe and unblemished

* Remember to turn produce over half-way through the drying process

* Make sure dried produce is completely cold before storing


1 comment:

  1. Genius! I've never dried mine this way (largely because it hasn't been hot enough here recently - 2 hours on Saturday isn't really going to do the trick!) But I imagine that you get an intense taste of sunshine too. You are so lucky :)

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