You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to: Preserving tomatoes

There’s more than one way to say tomato and there’s more than one way to preserve a tomato.  Freezing, canning, and dehydrating are all great ways to preserve tomatoes.

I recently posted about oven roasted tomatoes, and in the same post I mentioned the 60 lbs of tomatoes my friend and I can as stewed tomatoes and the additional 60 pounds we can as tomato sauce.  I’ll be posting my stewed tomato recipe, along with tips for peeling tomatoes, next week.  In the meantime, if you have a hankering for tomato sauce, here’s a link to the recipe I like to use: Family Secret Tomato Sauce.  It’s from the book Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  If you haven’t read this book, you should stop reading this blog post right now and run to the library.  It’s great.  It’ll make you want to start growing all of your own food, or at the very least, it’ll make you want to spend all of the harvest season in your kitchen preserving delicious foods.  I blame 23% of my canning obsession on this book.

But, I digress.  I’ve been experimenting with tomato preservation this season, because I love tomatoes and use a lot of them in my cooking and I never have quite enough to last me the whole winter.  Enter the dehydrator.  This weekend, I turned 10 cups of grape tomatoes into less than 4 cups of tomato-raisins

Before you say, “Well, that’s sounds great, but I don’t own a dehydrator”, I must tell you that I don’t own one either.  But I have a co-worker who does and was kind enough to lend it to me.  I’m a big advocate of sharing tools and appliances, especially things that you only use a few times a year.  ask around – you’ll be surprised what people have in their basements.  You can also dehydrate tomatoes in your car, as Keltie did last year.

This was my first time using a dehydrator, and I will admit that I’m not completely confident in my skills.  I wasn’t exactly sure how dry the tomatoes had to be.  Does anyone have any advice?  I may have erred on the side of over-dry, as they were a little crispy.  It also took a long time to dehydrate them.  To dehydrate the tomatoes, I cut them all in half and laid them cut-side up on the trays.  I did all the tomatoes at once, which is probably why it took so long.  Then I started the dehydrator.  After about 12 hours, some seemed done, and I removed them.  Every couple hours, I checked on it and removed the dry ones.  The last ones were finished around the 20 hour mark.  Then I put the dehydrated tomatoes in an air tight container on the shelf.

So, I have the following tomato preserves tucked away for the winter for my household:
(weights are for fresh tomatoes)
-15 lbs tomatoes, oven roasted and frozen
-30 lbs of stewed tomatoes, canned
-30 lbs of tomato sauce, canned (to be done the first weekend of October)
-10 cups of grape tomatoes, dehydrated

I thought I was done with tomato preserving for the season.

And then we held our salsa canning workshop on Tuesday night (post to come next week!) and I started to think about how great it would be to make a batch of my own salsa.

And then I happened to pop into a farm market when I was in New Glasgow for a presentation.  The orange Roma tomatoes called out to me…

Long story short – it’ll be spending my weekend in the kitchen.

Yours in food,

Marla

~~

PS We still have a couple spots in our Tuesday Sept 27 tomato canning workshop and the Oct 4 pear workshop.  For details: https://adventuresinlocalfood.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/2011-fall-preserving-workshops/

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