Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dehydrating and Canning Tomatoes

DEHYDRATING:

I had enough tomatoes the other day to try out the new dehydrator.  It runs very hot, and is nosier than I expected, so I ended up putting it out on the carport.  The weather was already 100, so a hot running appliance in the kitchen was not the way to go!

Within just a couple of hours I could see the tomatoes starting to lose their liquid.  A few of the smaller ones (I threw in some halved cherry tomatoes as well as sliced large ones) were dry in 4 hours, all within 10 hours.  I switched the trays a couple of times during drying.

The instructions say to freeze them. I am a bit disappointed. I thought I could just put them in plastic bags or glass containers at room temperature.  Oh, well...
I can powder the dried tomatoes in a blender and make soup, juice or sauces.  Or throw them into stews.  I actually like the taste of them as is!  They don't taste like tomatoes, sort of like banana chips don't really taste like bananas.  Speaking of which, the rats love banana chips, I should dehydrate them some! The ones at the store have added sugar.  




CANNING:

I had a large (for me) one-day harvest of mostly Big Beef tomatoes, so tried my hand at canning them.  I followed the directions from a wonderful gardening blog (well, it's not all about gardening, but that is one focus), www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com, for peeling them.  Cut an X in the end opposite the stem, plunge them in boiling water for 30 seconds, or until the skin starts to pop.  Then into ice water, rub them a bit to take off the skin.  Then I cut out the core, and canned by the Bell Blue Book method for tomatoes in their own juices.




skin peels right off!
I got only three jars, but I was proud of them... until I removed the jars from the canner and smelled canned tomato.  I set the jars on a cloth to sit 24 hours.  Then, when I moved them they were lightly stuck to the cloth with red.  Did they leak?  I don't know.  The lids are down and tight.  I am unable to pry the lids off with my fingers.  So, the look sealed.  Where did the smell and red liquid come from then?  I considered heating the contents and freezing it, or pureeing it and making a sauce to eat.  But, I got busy with other things, and now have three jars of possibly tainted tomatoes.  I will probably throw them out.  Botulism is no picnic (although many a picnic has caused botulism!), and in my canning class the teacher told us to be safe rather than risk it.  She only eats what she cans herself.

destined for the compost heap (maybe the seeds will provide me with next year's plants!)




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