During the heat of the summer I try to limit the amount of stove top and oven cooking I do.
I lean heavily on my Crock Pot. I love my gas stove in the Winter, hello cozy kitchen, but in the Summer it can make my kitchen and living room as hot as Hades.
With my central air unit being cranky right now (its 30 years old), I am limping along with a single window unit in the living room.
So much has happened this year, I will deal with it in Spring. I am not procrastinating, I am picking my battles.
So in an effort to not live in a Swedish sauna, I have been using my Excalibur dehydrator to preserve my produce.
My garden has been producing nicely this year, even though it has been very dry in my area of Oklahoma and I have to water every day. My water bill is high but it is worth it.
I do dehydrate produce from my garden but the majority of my items to dry come from the quick sale section of my local grocery store.
It is part of an Oklahoma family owned chain. They are not a big box retailer and can offer quick sale items at a deep discount.
Recently, I scored five pints of grape tomatoes at 39 cents each and two pounds of roma tomatoes for $1.00. Sweet.
I didn’t want to freeze them (I have several quart baggies in the deep freeze already) and I couldn’t use that many tomatoes for fresh cooking , so my dehydrator was put to work.
I sliced the grape tomatoes in half if they were small and in quarters if they were larger. I didn’t bother to blanch them. I sliced the romas thin, about 1/4 inch slices. I gave the stem end to my chickens.
No waste at my house!
Arrange all of the tomatoes in a single layer on the trays. Try not to let them touch each other. I use 135 degrees F and set the timer for 10 hours. That is way longer than probably needed but I like the dried veggies to be very crispy.
In the past I have had to throw out jars of moldy produce and that is just a waste of time, effort, electricity and money. Best to be sure. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use your oven on the lowest setting.
After the tomatoes are completely dry, grind into a fine powder using a blender. A food processor will result in more flakes as the final product. Pour into a storage jar with an airtight lid, label it and add the date.
It can last up to 24 months in a cool dry place.
I add tomato powder to many different recipes I make. Soups, pasta sauces, stews, chili’s, even Bloody Mary’s. You can sprinkle it on bread to make garlic tomato bread as a side for pasta. Once you start using it, I am certain you will find many applications for it. The concentrated tomato flavor packs a big punch. Use the powder “to taste” as an addition to a soup or stew. Or if making a sauce use 1 part powder to 1 – 1.5 part water. Adjust accordingly. Your mileage may vary.
I have seen tomato powder in those big box retailers selling in bulk at $11.95 for 16 ounces or worse 1/2 cup for $8.95. Yikes! That is too expensive for my budget. I have also seen tomato bouillon cubes with “natural flavorings”. Usually that “natural flavorings” include MSG and corn products. No thank you, ma’am.
This technique is budget friendly, nutritious and helps you along the path of food security in uncertain times. In another post I will talk about my adventures with leafy greens.
I do have a couple of favorite books on this subject. The first book was my mom’s. That’s how I became interested in dehydrating. It is,”Dry it, you’ll like it” by Gen MacManiman. It was first printed in 1973. The second book is, “The dehydrator’s Bible” by Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt and Don Mercer. Between the two of these, I have all of the information I need.
I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor.