For years I have canned tomatoes in many, many ways. Ive canned whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, salsa, stewed tomatoes, tomato juice. Always blanching them first and removing their skins. Then the skins would go in the trash, or later after we had ventured into chicken keeping, to our chickens for treats! The first option, so wasteful, the second, benefiting our egg production, but not adding to our pantry in any way. There had to be a better way! After many years, it finally dawned on me to dehydrate the skins!
The next time I made salsa, I got smarter! First, and this is a super top secret tip so don’t tell anyone, I froze my surplus tomatoes throughout the summer. I washed and cored them, skins left on and filled grocery bags full in the freezer, whole. Then, when I had bags and bags full, and I was ready to deal with them in the fall after all the more imminent harvesting and food preserving was over, I defrosted those tomatoes. As they thawed, the skins slipped right off! No blanching required! AMAZING!!! I then squeezed the excess moisture from the tomato skins (I saved that too and canned the tomato water to make rice with) and laid the skins in single layers on my dehydrator trays. I dehydrated them until the skins were translucent and very brittle.
Next, I put the dried skins in my blender, and pulsed until I had fine flakes. The skins were very very dry at this point.
I poured the flakes into a mason jar for long term storage and use. What do I use it for you may ask? It seems like a strange thing to save right? It is literally my secret weapon in the kitchen! Need tomato paste? No problem! mix 1:1 with water and voila, tomato paste! Have a thin soup, stew or sauce? Add some flakes to thicken without adding cornstarch. Want to add flavor or nutrients secretly? Add to meatballs, meatloaf, or anything really!
See? It really is a secret weapon! and such an amazing way to use something that rarely gets used!
What do you use that rarely gets put to use? Share with me in the comments below your tips and tricks for using things others throw out!