Right this very minute, there’s an enormous food dehydrator sitting in your driveway.
Inspired by my late great-grandmother, a thrifty and innovative gardener who dried her apple crop on clean window screens inside the family car, we decided to make the best of the current heat wave and process a batch of sweet, tasty roma tomatoes.
Three hours into the operation, the slices are drying very nicely and — as an extra bonus — the truck’s interior smells wonderful.
Speaking of trucks, I found this one in an old sketchbook from the days when my girls were small and we were tenants on a working farm. The truck belonged to my neighbor, a gentle and ancient gentleman who was probably the most knowledgeable gardener I will ever meet.
My neighbor was also an amateur naturalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of our regional insects and wildlife. He was a frail-looking fellow and I was alarmed to look over my back fence one afternoon to see him sprawled, face down, in the cow pasture. But after wading out to him through the tall summer grass, I discovered that he was lying there very happily, absorbed in watching some particularly interesting insect activity. I’ve never forgotten the pure delight he found in observing the orderly and unseen communities — from fire ants and webworms to scrub jays and coyotes — that lived within the woods and fields of the farm where he had been born, and had lived nearly 90 years. He was a deeply religious man — a member of a small evangelical church — and sometimes I saw him in town on Sundays, looking stiff and a little grim in a suit and tie. But I think he felt closest to his Creator when he was stretched out on his stomach with his nose just inches from the rich Alabama dirt, a witness to a thousand tiny miracles.
What an intriguing idea! And I love the story of your former neighbor. He sounds like he would be fun to talk to and walk through a field with. You’d probably learn a lot in a short time.
You have inspired me. I am overrun with tomatoes and there is a food dehydrator in my barn my husband’s ex-wife bought and never took out of the box.
Our neighbor also has a prolific pear tree she is sharing with us. I bet pears could be dried the same as apples. Until I saw your post, I forgot all about the dehydrator, it is so buried.
I would also like to compliment you on your beautiful sketches. And for your wonderful gardening journal idea. The journal was the reason for my visit. But, now you’ve further inspired me…tomorrow is going to be a busy day.
Wow. Thank you so much for stopping by. You are going on my must-read list! I have dried my herbs in my car for several years now. The drying process usually only takes a couple hours and the herbs don’t lose flavor from long drying times.
Jen / domestika said:
Fabulous! One batch of sun-dried tomatoes & a big dash of inventive imagination… count me in as a subscriber, I love this kind of lateral thinking (and your garden sketches are downright restorative).
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What a clever idea!
I was just thinking of looking into plans for a building a solar dehydrator, but this is something I can do now (we have no garage, and so my car is always in the sun and therefore appropriately hot).
I was wondering, is there any dripping that one needs to worry about as the tomatoes dry? Any tips on how thinly to slice them?
You have a gorgeous site, I can’t wait to savor every picture and every post!
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I miss George. One of my all-time favorite people!