First I put all the tomatoes in the basement to ripen on flat pieces of screen or wood that are suspended on buckets.
When the tomatoes ripen I wash them...
I cut off their stems and stick them in a blender (skins and all) to puree into blended tomato puree.
Heres what the tomato puree looks like.
In our basement I keep the dehydrator that is running almost all the time right now. I spread the puree out on the fruit roll sheets (of if you don't have those you can make your own using freezer paper. Dehydrate the tomato puree on 135 F for about 24 hours or so. Don't worry so much about the time - just dehydrate it until it's crispy and breaks when you bend it.
When it's finished break off the pieces and stick back in your perfectly dry blender (make sure it's all the way dry or you'll have to re-dry the powder. Blend and then wallaah...tomato powder!
To rehydrate just add boiling hot water until the consistency you want. Add less water if you want a paste, more for a sauce. Experiment with how much you like. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and Italian seasoning for a delicious pizza sauce. Or mix a little into your homemade spaghetti sauces to thicken a little. The possibilities are endless with this stuff. I'm still experimenting, but I'm really excited about this simple, quick method that preserves tomatoes. It's especially nice for this time of year when you're burnt out from canning! Some of the benefits of drying instead of canning are:
- Less Space - this is a big one! You can store a lot of tomatoes in one canning jar. I estimate about 80 - 100 tomatoes per quart!
- Less Time - dehydrating with this method is a lot faster than canning and you can do a little each day so it's perfect for busy times of year.
- Nutrition - from what I've learned dehydrating preserves better the nutrition than canning, but I need to read up more about what the benefits are.