Fashion for preserving food

Text and photos: Anna Plaszczyk

1 April 2023

What if, instead of going to the store in the winter, go to your own basement or cellar? And bring with you marinated mushrooms, own ketchup, delicious plum jam. It turns out that more and more people, instead of buying ready-made products, do them themselves. Because its cheaper, healthier, more ecological!

Dried tomatoes. Who does not love them? They smell like a sunny Italia, taste like summer and space. Worse, if you need to buy them. Even a small jar of this delicacy will cost us more than 10zl. While all you have to do, is to visit the vegetable market in late August or early September. Plum tomatoes (Lima type) are the best for drying; they are meaty and have little water. In the high season they cost only 1 zloty per kilo. With 20 kg box we can easily "produce" 6-8 liter jars of dried tomatoes!

Plum tomatoes should be washed, cut in halves and the watery seeds should be removed. The tomatoes prepared in this way, should be put on the baking tray lined with paper with the interior part at the top. We dry them in the oven at 90 degrees Celsius. The oven should be open, to allow water to evaporate. After drying (8 - 24h depending on the number of sheets in the oven), we put tomatoes into jars, we add herbs and pour the warm oil on them. In order to make storage easier and safer, they can be pasteurized.

Home-made, dried tomatoes consist only of elements that we added to them. But the ones bought in the shop have an abundance of ideas. Lactic acid, citric acid, calcium chloride, ascorbic acid - these are just some of the additives that can be found in store dried tomatoes.

And the price? 20 zl for 20kg of tomatoes. Costs of the working oven is 50 - 70gr per hour, it is even cheaper at night tariff. Even if the tomatoes will be drying for 24 hours = 16zł. For this we also need rapeseed oil, but this can be used for frying, so it does not count in the bill. Spices - oregano, basil, herbs de Provence, garlic - all in a large quantity, so the tomatoes were flavorful. The 20kg of tomatoes can cost staggering 5 zł.

Thus, for 41zł, plus oil, we have 6-8 jars (depending on how tightly they are arranged) of dried tomatoes without any chemicals. Meanwhile in the store, 300ml jar costs about 10 zl. Economic calculation is simple. It looks the same as far as any other preserved food is concerned and it suits the best for mushrooms, which we do not need to buy. If you only have the knowledge about the aromatic gifts of the forest - you can, in a few mushroom huntings, fill the entire pantry with marinated and dried mushrooms.

Why more and more people are dealing in the kitchen with tasks that were a real curse for our mothers and grandmothers? Maybe because nowadays, the curse are chemicals added to almost all kinds of food.