This recipe is an age-old favorite from Provence. It takes ripe, soft tomatoes and turns them into a delicious and healthy food that will keep indefinitely, and only uses the sun, oil, herbs, and salt to do it. For this recipe, you will need to select very, very ripe tomatoes that have ripened on the vine, preferably in full sunlight.
- 3 or 4 very ripe tomatoes
- Sea salt
- Olive oil (can substitute other oil)
- Dried basil, oregano, or any herbs of your choosing
- Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze them with your palm ever so lightly to release any water. Put the halves in a quart jar as you have cut and squeezed them. Cover the jar with a ring-and-disc lid and place them outside in full sunlight. Leave them out there (bringing them in at night and placing them back out in the morning) until they begin to bubble and smell fermented.
- Using a semi-fine metal strainer for this step. Line a large bowl with a flour sack towel or two layers of butter muslin. Press the soft, fermented tomatoes with your fingers through the mesh of the strainer into the lined bowl beneath. Tie the cloth into a draining sack and suspend it over a sink or bowl to drain until the tomato pulp has dried into a thick paste.
- Take a small handful of the paste and roll it into a ball a little bit smaller than a ping-pong ball. Place these balls on a rack outside in full sunlight (you may place cheesecloth over the balls so as to deter insects) until they are fully dried.
- Rub the dried balls over with a little sea salt and place them in a canning jar big enough to hold all of them but small enough not to waste oil. Pour in any oil (olive is most popular) and season with dried basil, oregano, or any herbs of your choosing and seal the jar. Place the jar in cold storage until you are ready to use the dried tomato balls.