So it's that time of year that tomatoes are starting to turn red. An exciting and tasty time to be sure. What does that mean for us? Well, in my family it always meant that it was time to can, can, can. Lately I've been thinking more and more about how would our ancestors have possibly preserved foods like tomatoes and squash? The answer? They must have dried them. Thinking about it, squash flour is a thing, dehydrated squash pulverized into flour makes tasty soup thickeners and even tastier cake. So why is it beyond our realm of thinking that we didn't do that with things like tomatoes? Enter my experiment this year!
This is a picture of how big my cherry tomatoes got this year. That is an 8 inch chef knife beside them. I got the seeds from the Alliance of Native Seed Keepers. I grew the plants from seed, fertilized them with natural fertilizer and now have a ton of tomatoes coming on this size and bigger. I picked the greens off the top and sliced them in half. I would sun dry them but Michigan has very finicky weather this year. The humidity is too high to dry things outdoors and flies are in abundance so the chances of them drying buggy is large.
So I decided to put my trusty dehydrator to use. I have a pretty good presto 06300 dehydrator that can run for days without a hitch. I sliced a couple handfuls of romas and a bunch of my cherry tomatoes. They are in the dehydrator right now and look very beautiful. They won't be done for another day.
By dehydrating them I can place them in mason jars for up to a year. If I want them in soups I can take them out, chop them up and rehydrate them in the water to make a stock with chunks of tomatoes. I also plan on taking some of my beefsteak tomatoes and dehydrating them down to a brittle stage to turn into tomato powder. Why? Because this powder can give soups and meats tomato flavor and if you want quick tomato soup you add tomato powder to water. It's safer then guessing if you have it canned correctly. From a traditional sense it would have made carrying them from place to place easier. There is some slight controversy to the idea that tomatoes are indigenous to North America or if they originated in South and Central America. But for the sake of flavor, we've been growing them a long time and as far back as I've been able to trace we've had them. It's not outside the possibility that we came across them in trade and so on. But for now, dehydrated tomato will be enough to carry us through the winter and tastes even tastier with venison!