02 May2011

From absolutely no decent tomatoes a couple of months ago to a sudden deluge of the fruit, tomatoes are back in markets with a summer vengeance. But be careful, some vendors must have bad sources or are just taking advantage of consumers as prices varied WILDLY at the markets yesterday. For example, at FTI, my suki from Baguio had salad tomatoes (beefsteaks) that were 2-3 days shy of ripe, and she was pushing them at a remarkably low PHP50-60. Just three steps away, another suki had a box full of nearly ripe beefsteaks, and they were asking PHP180 a kilo, down from PHP220 the week before, and therefore, they claimed, a brilliant bargain. Mary also had small cherry or grape shaped tomatoes that were gorgeous and ripe, and she charged me PHP60 a kilo… a little while later at Salcedo, I noticed the same type of tomatoes for PHP250-300 a kilo! And once, I had just missed some folks from the Salcedo market who bought their tomatoes from my suki at FTI, only to re-sell them at more than double the price! Outrageous, but it’s a free market so buyers beware! Perhaps most amazing were the prices of organic cherry tomatoes at Mercato, where at least 2 or 3 tables had them for PHP250 and more per kilo. I bought 200 grams of some tiny orange tomatoes for color, but wouldn’t think of paying those kinds of prices unless truly desperate…

On Good Friday, just before Easter, we found these absolutely GORGEOUS cherry tomatoes, ripe on the vine, at the Toscana Farm Stand in Silang, Cavite. I bought these lookers for using as a garnish after roasting them as in with a drizzle of olive oil and salt, but beside these tomatoes were a pile of loose ripe cherry tomatoes that were perfect slow drying in the oven. We bought a kilo or so (can’t recall the price, but closer to PHP200 for the ones on the vine). These are greenhouse raised, but they were wonderfully ripe and tasty. Back at home, we simply washed them, cut them in half, laid them out on a baking sheet, added a generous sprinkling of kosher salt, and drizzled them with olive oil. Into a low oven say 220F for say 2-2.5 hours until they are somewhat but not totally dehydrated. Their flavor intensifies and it’s easy to store them for several weeks in the fridge.

Once the semi-dried tomatoes have been removed from the oven and cooled, place them in a clean glass jar and add some good olive oil to cover. The semi-dried tomatoes can be used in pasta sauces with shrimp, sandwiches, as a garnish or a foil for some mozzarella cheese and basil leaves…

The semi-dried tomatoes can be stored for a couple of weeks, otherwise, freeze them. Definitely a useful addition to your larder or pantry. I did a previous post on semi-dried tomatoes, here.



  1. Scramoodles says:

    Oh yum! Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes :)

    May 2, 2011 | 3:35 am


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  3. Ryan says:

    My mom actually bought a cherry tomato plant from Centris Sunday Market. I knew she just bought it because of the cuteness factor. Most of the tomatoes we harvest end up in the ref until it rots. I think I will try this method sometime. Thanks.

    May 2, 2011 | 4:14 am

  4. jong says:

    Tomato produce is definitely getting better in Manila, thanks for letting us know MM! I am temporarily living in Melbourne for a year now and cherry tomatoes ripened on the vine/truss like the ones from Toscana farm retail for about 4AUD (about 12 to 14 pieces) in the supermarkets – a bit higher in Prahran or Victoria markets. I can’t wait to be back home and still find truss tomatoes readily available:)

    May 2, 2011 | 7:18 am

  5. elaine says:

    I gotta hit the markets to try this one! I love sun dried tomatoes but they are pricey when bought commercially. Many thanks MM!

    May 2, 2011 | 7:24 am

  6. Clarissa says:

    Can this be done under the sun? I tried sun-drying tomatoes before and they got burnt, like dried little twigs. Hahaha. So I’m hesitant to do tomato drying again. But I did a wonderful batch of dried herbs yesterday (because of too many basil leaves) and took advantage of the summer heat :) Worked well! Just took a couple of hours :)

    May 2, 2011 | 8:20 am

  7. jacq says:

    wow..I love tomatoes MM but the mozzarella looks yummy. Where on Earth did you get them?

    May 2, 2011 | 8:47 am

  8. Toping says:

    I love how the drying amps up the flavor of the tomatoes. Did this last year right after the chillies. The tomato-infused oil also goes well with pasta/salads.

    @Clarissa: Maybe you left them out too long? True, they do shrivel up into about a fifth of their original size and can be real tough/leathery as to look inedible. Just soak them in hot water for a bit and they’ll plump up again.

    May 2, 2011 | 9:24 am

  9. millet says:

    MM, an Italian priest with a farm on the davao-bukidnon border sundries the tomatoes with salt, then packs them in olive oil with a sliver of garlic and a basil leaf tucked into each tomato half. very tasty as appetizer or cocktail food, or as pasta sauce by itself (roughly chopped, and with a few anchovies thrown in), plus the oil makes a great base for sauces and dips, too.

    May 2, 2011 | 9:41 am

  10. Joel says:

    I didn’t know you can do this with tomatoes. Silang, Cavite – that’s where I live. I wonder where the Toscana Farm Stand was.

    May 2, 2011 | 10:35 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Joel, driving up from Sta. Rosa to Tagaytay, the Toscana Farm Stand is located beside the Caltex station on the left. About 10 minutes up from Paseo de Sta. Rosa. millet, if I come to Davao, how long of a drive is it to Buda? (border between Bukidnon and Davao)… arrgghhh… I need to get to Davao soon. Toping, yes, the flavor is SO concentrated. I discovered these in Australia many years ago at the Victoria market in Melbourne and have made them at home ever since… jacq, mini-mozzarellas or bocconcini are from S& L Fine Foods. Clarissa, these are semi-dried so still a bit moist, maybe you just overdid the tomatoes you sun-dried… jong, they aren’t so readily available, but at Toscana, they have them when in season. Ryan, you can do this with big tomatoes as well, they just need to be cut up before roasting in the oven…

    May 2, 2011 | 12:57 pm

  12. Clarissa says:

    yeah, most probably overdid it. i ended up throwing away a good batch of tomatoes experimenting on it.

    In Centris Food Bowl (not during the Sidcor), I was able to get some super yummy grape and cherry tomatoes . I never appreciated tomatoes this way before. Luckily, they extended the Food Bowl until end of this year. They open from 4pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Love their color.

    May 2, 2011 | 1:16 pm

  13. Gej says:

    Around this time 4 years ago, we drove from Davao to South Cotabato. Part of the route, I assume was the Davao to Bukidnon way. What I remember most was the Marang and Durian along road side stalls. The marang was selling for 5 pesos per large fruit!

    While I enjoyed the prospect of eating such bargains, I could not help but feel for the road side vendors/farmers who could not transport their produce to the city markets or other more financially rewarding markets and sell them for better prices, and could only sell at the border at dirt cheap prices.

    May 2, 2011 | 1:22 pm

  14. Aj says:

    Dried my tomatoes last summer inside our car :D Avoided our cat from feasting on it. Not only to avoid the cat but temperature inside the car is perfect for drying. hehehe

    May 2, 2011 | 3:08 pm

  15. Walter says:

    My goodness. I got cherry tomatoes from Balintawak market for PhP 15.00 per kilo. Yes, fifteen.

    May 2, 2011 | 5:28 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Walter, cool… just shows you have ridiculous the price ranges are depending on where you shop.

    May 2, 2011 | 5:47 pm

  17. Footloose says:

    No fan of obsessive deconstructive cuisine per se, but I now follow the example of Heston Blumenthal individually stuffing tiny tomatoes with a leaf of basil before partially oven drying them for dotting his perfect pizza. After reading Millet’s Father Guido Sarducci, I shall add a sliver of garlic to the stuffing.

    May 2, 2011 | 7:41 pm

  18. sweetdomicile says:

    I know this post is about tomatoes but I can’t help zeroing in on the cheese. They look like little white balls of awesome. May I know where you purchased them please?

    May 2, 2011 | 7:54 pm

  19. millet says:

    MM, it’s a nice 2-3 hour drive to Buda in Tagaytay/Baguio-like climate.

    and yes, you need to get to davao soon!

    May 2, 2011 | 9:37 pm

  20. Dianne says:

    yum, yum… i wonder if the cherry tomatoes from Balintawak and Cavite taste the same?

    May 2, 2011 | 10:50 pm

  21. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    We hit the farmers market yesterday bought a lot of tomatoes.I replicate your semi-dried Cherry (grape) and Roma last night, Today , i made your appetizer of fresh mozza,basil and SD Cherry..YUMMY!!the sweetness of the tomatoes is beyond compare to sun dried tomatoes,this will definitely be on my pantry and freezer .Thanks for the recipe MM.

    May 3, 2011 | 5:59 am

  22. joyce says:

    just did this myself a few weeks ago when tomato prices dropped and i just had to urge to hoard. its fantastic with pasta dishes and easy to do.

    May 3, 2011 | 4:03 pm

  23. MP says:

    Hi MM, did you take out the seeds and squeeze out excess liquid from the tomatoes before sticking them in the oven?

    May 4, 2011 | 4:06 am

  24. Marketman says:

    MP, in this case, we were lazy and didn’t bother to remove the seeds, particularly since the tomatoes were rather small. However, it is best practice to remove seeds as they can turn a little bitter when larger. So if you do this with plum tomatoes or larger tomatoes, yes, please go ahead and remove water pulp and seeds… Dianne, tomatoes can look pretty good but taste watery, flavorless, pulpy, etc. So best to taste what you are buying, you will soon be able to differentiate mediocre from the spectacular… millet, yes, davao a must, soon. sweetdomicile, bocconcini from S & L Fine Foods, I have written a few posts about them before…

    May 4, 2011 | 6:23 am

  25. Monique says:

    I love sun dried tomatoes and always make a batch when tomatoes are cheap and abundant. I use a food dryer. Do you bake yours?

    May 4, 2011 | 8:26 am

  26. tintin says:

    Hi Mr MM. Can oven toaster be used for the drying? if so, for about how long? thank you. :-)

    May 5, 2011 | 7:52 am


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