by Tammy Taylor
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Recently I had a large quantity of tomatoes to preserve so I first made quite a bit of tomato sauce with them, then I turned much of that tomato sauce into pasta sauce which I subsequently canned so we can enjoy it all summer long. I’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage from those tomatoes already but am I through with them yet? Hummmm… In the process of making my sauce I removed most of the seeds and tossed them into my compost before I even cooked the tomatoes down. When the tomatoes were cooked I put them into my jelly-sieve ’cause, you know, that’s what I had handy. I used that sieve to separate the cooked tomatoes from the skins so I would have smoother sauce. Now I read somewhere that instead of throwing them away you can dehydrate the skins and grind them into powder to use to thicken soups or make your own tomato paste. Oh yeah, I’m *SO* gonna do that!
So here’s what I did: I took the leftover cooked tomato skins and used my stick blender to roughly puree them. Then I laid a dehydrator sheet on one of the trays of my * Excalibur Dehydrator and plopped the whole pureed mess onto it. I used a pasta-rolling pin to smooth it all down to a more uniform thickness. (note that I left some of the skins intact to experiment with drying times) After the Excalibur was loaded up I turned it to 125 degrees and allowed it to run for about 5 hours. After that time I pulled out the dehydrator trays to check on things. The skins that were left intact were already dry but the puree wasn’t dry to my liking. I separated the tomato puree from the dehydrator sheet and flipped it over so the dry side would be facing down and the still-wet side would be able to dry. Then I allowed it to dehydrate for about 3 hours longer until the tomato puree was dry & leathery.
I pulled out my coffee grinder that I keep just for veggies and popped some of my dried tomato skins in and whirred it until it was a fine powder. Oh yeah, that’s the stuff! I store my tomato powder in a repurposed glass spice jar. I’ll use this tomato powder to make my own tomato paste for our french-bread pizzas that RancherMan loves, and also to flavor our food or thicken other tomato products like my blender salsa.
So out of those tomatoes I got some homemade tomato sauce, pasta sauce and now even tomato paste. And except for the canning lids (my reusable Tattler canning lids are all being used) I created NO landfill-bound trash when I canned my marinara, plus I know just what’s included in the food I’ve preserved – only natural, healthy stuff. I think that’s a lot of mileage from a bundle of tomatoes!
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