"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Tomato preserves


It would appear that the tomato blossom end rot only affected a couple of my tomato plants.

So I was been busy harvesting tomatoes frantically over the last weekend.  I had sowed both red heirloom, red and yellow cocktail and large yellow tomatoes - can't remember where I got them but I think that they were Franchi Sementi seeds.

Not having the power to run a freezer in order to preserve my harvest, I have had to think laterally.

So, here is a preview of what I have done with the first batch of tomatoes that I picked :)
A collage of my first tomato preserves for 2014
I made 6 jars of whole peeled tomatoes, 3 jars of tomato sauce (ketchup) and...
Bottled tomatoes and tomato
sauce (ketchup)

The tall re-used bottle of tomato sauce
from the red wine vinegar will have to go
in my fridge to be used first
... two ice trays filled with tomato purée concentrate.
Tomato paste
When I peeled the tomatoes I kept the skins to one side.  I shoved them onto an oven tray in the solar oven to dry out - with the lid open so that I didn't burn them.  Unfortunately, before they were fully dry it started to cloud over and drizzle.  That put paid to solar drying my tomato skins.

My solar dehydrator is still not ready.  Will I be able to use it before the end of this season?  Time will tell...

The next sunny day was predicted for 2 days later - I couldn't wait that long to pop them back into the solar oven - I was in the swing of it LOL
Drying the tomato skins
On Sunday night, as the weather was a bit iffy, we lit the Rosie for the first time this year and I put the skins in the oven to finish drying.  (Lighting the Rosie was a definite teaser for the winter ahead - I can hardly wait LOL)
Using RMan's coffee grinder to grind the
dried tomato skins
When they were good and crispy, they got shoved into RMan's (cleaned) coffee grinder and blitzed for a couple of minutes, until they looked like this:
A close-up of the ground tomato skins
The crushed skins smell amazing, and I'm looking forward to adding them to pizza's, bread and cheese scones :)  Those I'm storing in a jar with a sachet of moisture absorber (I can't remember the proper name, but you know what I mean?) that arrived in my bottle of magnesium tablets.

Even the pips didn't go to waste.  After I had made the tomato sauce (ketchup) and the tomato concentrate, I was left with a whole bunch of seeds and some remnants of tomato flesh in the sieve.  That went into a container in the fridge and got added to a bolognaise sauce I made for RMan's dinner a couple of nights later.  Very tasty it was too :)

It is the first time that I have ever used the entire tomato and I can't imagine why it took me so long to do so.

There is triple the amount of tomatoes reading for picking this weekend, so come on sun - I need to make some sundried tomatoes in my solar oven, and a batch of my salad dressing which uses whole peeled tomatoes, and there are also lots more to bottle...

24 comments:

  1. You've certainly been busy, Dani! Must be very satisfying to use every bit of your homegrown tomatoes. The yellow ones are so pretty :)

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    1. Quinn - I'm halfway through todays session LOL

      Yeah, yellow tomatoes are great - visually one doesn't expect to "taste" tomato when you bite into one. It's like the mind is confused by tasting tomato after the eyes have seen they're yellow.

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    2. I grew some purple ukraine tomatoes, they tasted really good but the colour of them seemed to put everyone off so I didn't try any more the following year. It's funny how we get programmed to how things should be.

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    3. dreamer - On cooking the yellow tomatoes, the puree turns as red as the red tomatoes. I wonder if that will happen with purple tomatoes?

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  2. Never thought of doing that with the skins, what a great idea. Will have to remember that. Your processing efforts look fantastic. Would love to hear more about your salad dressing when the time comes.

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    1. Moonwaves - I used to make the tomato dressing for a few restaurants when we loved in the city. RMan calls it my "export" dressing LOL

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  3. That all looks very tasty. And at least you know what's in it. Things you buy at the store here are all full of chemicals and dyes.

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    1. Harry - Exactly. It is frightening to read the labels of groceries, and as Mike, our grandson, loves ketchup, if I can make him ketchup with no preservatives, and with home grown organic produce, than I'm more than happy. :)

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  4. Great! Do you use a pressure canner or water bath? And how about posting more about this solar dehydrator? I am about to make a solar oven but first i will try with a cardboard version before we make a wooden one to see how well it works. A dehydrator is on the list of things to do but cannot decide on a model. Can't wait for your post..

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    1. nihal - I don't have a pressure canner (they are not available in this country as far as I can establish) so I use a water bath.

      Be aware, a home made solar oven rarely reaches temperatures above 110oC (230oF) so they are more slow cookers, than versatile solar ovens. My Sun Cook reaches temps of 280 - 300oC. Buying a Sun Cook is expensive, but is going to be of greater use to you, and is worth every cent :)

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  5. Wow! You've been busy. I dehydrate tomatoes every season, but haven't tried drying the skins. I like the idea of no waste.

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    1. Vicki - I'm exhausted.

      I started at 8.30a.m. this morning, and finished at 5p.m. But, I'm almost stocked up for winter now with 4 X 1lt and 6 X 500ml jars of whole tomatoes, 6 X 500ml tomato ketchup, 6 jars of tomato puree, and 4 jars of tomato concentrate, and a full jar of blitzed tomato skins.

      By the way, I canned the 4 X 1lt jars in my solar oven ;) It worked a treat!

      Now, I just need to sun dry some...

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    2. Btw, Vicki, do you store your dehydrated tomates in the fridge? The only recipe I can find is to keep them in a jar of oil - in the FRIDGE Why can't they be kept in the larder...?

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    3. I use my electric dehydrator and dry the tomato slices until they are crispy. I don't think it matters how they are dried - just so the moisture is removed. Some say you have to vacuum seal dried vegetables (Yes, I know a tomato is a fruit, but I treat it as a vegetable.) and others say you have to store them in canning jars. Vacuum sealing bags are expensive. I need all of my jars for canning. I also have a significant lack of storage space. So I pack all of my dried vegetables in zip lock freezer bags and store the bags wherever I can - away from sunlight. I have some tomatoes that I dried three years ago and they are still good. To use them, I either soak them in hot water or grind them up and use as a rough powder. May not be the "approved" method, but it works well for me.

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  6. Dani you clever sausage I have never heard of using the skins in that way. So with lots of tomatoes still to process I am going to give it a try.

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    1. R&D - I'm anticipating loaves of fresh bread with red flecks throughout - never mind the hint of tomato in the bite. Anything to get RMan to eat his veggies... :)

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  7. I have dried the skins too, I like to add some to casseroles and soups too to add a bit of richness or sprinkle a bit in mayo to make a salad dressing. I just keep mine in an airtight jar in the cupboard, they keep well for a long time as long as you keep them dry.
    If you dehydrate a few different veggies, onions, mushrooms,etc and some herbs then grind them you can mix them with some of the dried tomato skins and make a jar of base for casseroles. A handful makes a good base when mixed with water.

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    1. dreamer - And the mixed dried veggies could also work in a gravy or salad dressing maybe? (anything to get veggies in RMan bwahahaha)

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  8. Oh how wonderful! I have just planted my tomato seeds and am hoping for a banner year and much to put up (of course, we're slowly working through last years preserves)!

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  9. What great tomato products you have created. You'll have the tasted of fresh tomatoes all Winter. Should be nice (and remind you of Summer). I just posted today about drying some in our dehydrator. They were SO good in the pasta sauce (pic on the post). I love the skins idea, I'll have to remember that when I, hopefully, have an abundance of toms this summer. Dang, now I'm hungry!

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    1. 1st Man - I saw your posting :) Trust me, throwing the skins away or even into the compost is a compelte waste. The dried flakes are delicious :)

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  10. This is the first time I've ever heard of drying the skins! I like it!

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    1. Andrea - welcome, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Trust me - the subtle tomato flavour is a definite plus :)

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