Tomato Powder

One of the most basic garden vegetables are tomatoes, cherry or normal size.  Its how many people get hooked on growing their own food.  One reason is because they are so prolific and easy to grow.  Note, Prolific!  Cherry, grape, salad tomatoes especially will create a ton of tomatoes during a season.  While in February as you long for the taste of a fresh, real, non-store bought tomato, by September you never want to eat one again.  Yet, they still continue to cover your plants!  What to do with all of them.

Unless you pickle the cherry tomatoes, you will have to find many friends to pawn them off on, they are too much trouble to can, in my opinion.  If you have larger tomatoes and don’t can, you will be in this same boat.  I don’t like to freeze tomatoes, they take up too much room and it is a messy processes.  What I like to do is dehydrate them and turn them into powder.  Yes, you read that right.

Powdered tomatoes are perfect for a vegetable thickener in sauce and pasta dishes as well as a base vegetable bullion for soups and stews.  The best thing is that 5 pounds of tomatoes can fit into a half-pint jar!  Space!  I really like this for my cherry tomatoes because the prep goes so fast, they add up fast and nothing is left to waste.

Here are the directions.

Tomato Powder

  1. Wash your tomatoes.
  2. Cut out any blemishes and stem area.
  3. Slice thin and place on your dehydrator rack (or on a cookie sheet with parchment paper if you are going to use your oven).
  4. Make sure they are not overlapping.  Tomatoes contain a lot of water.
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  6. I place my dehydrator on medium heat and this takes about 7 hours.  If you are using your oven, use the lowest heat and crack the door open to dry your slices.
  7. Dry until they are completely crispy with NO MOISTURE.
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  9. You can leave in this state if you want to vacuum seal at this stage and use like sun dried tomatoes as well.  I have one friend that will use vinegar and oil and put the in the refrigerator to use in salads.  I prefer not to utilize refrigerator space in that way.  This state also makes a wonderful sun dried tomato salad dressing.
  10. Place your ‘chips’ in a grinder and grind until a powder.
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  12. You can also add dehydrated garlic, onion, peppers, pretty much anything you want at this stage and grind all together to make sure its well mixed.  This would make a lovely stock base.
  13. Next transfer into an airtight container that is resistant to air and to moisture.  I prefer to vac-seal my jars with the exception of one that I will use often and that one will be put in my spice cabinet.
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This powder has so many uses.  My favorite way is to add a little tomato flavor and a thickener to dishes without all the water  content.  It works great as an alternative to a small amount of tomato paste as well.

Let me know how this turned out for you!

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

Alphabet Soup Mix in a Jar

Meal-Prepping and filling your pantry doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  Utilizing dehydrated veggies and herbs works great to have a quick grab and prepared home cooked meal.  These also have a great shelf life to have on hand during emergency and disaster situations.

Today I am sharing a fun kid friendly recipe.  Alphabet Soup.  And it tastes so much better than store bought condensed.

First to prepare your jars.

  • 1 half pint canning jar with a tight lid.
  • 1 cup alphabet pasta
  • 2 tablespoons dried vegetable flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granuals or powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions for jars.

  1. Make sure your jar and lids are clean and dry!
  2. Layer 1/2 cup of pasta, then 1 tablespoon of dehydrated veggies, then the boullion and Pepper.
  3. Layer the second tablespoon of veggies then the second half cup of pasta.
  4. The layering just makes it “pretty”.
  5. Tightly screw on your lid and label.
  6. Alphabet Soup Mix
  7. Add 4 cups water + 1/2 cup of tomato pasta sauce.

When you are ready to use.

  1. Place water, pasta sauce and contents of jar in a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, or until pasta and veggies are tender.

Easy peasy!

Place in a cool place to store that isn’t prone to high humidity, your pantry.
Until next time!

Kay L Rice