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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tomato Wafers and Tomato Stock

We think of tomatoes as a vegetable even though botanically they are a fruit. They are one of the most versatile foods there is. Those who love tomatoes know that the anemic tomatoes sold in the grocery stores during the winter months do not compare with the full bodied flavour of vine ripe tomatoes! I am very fortunate in that I am able to grow tomatoes as well as having a free source for all the canning tomatoes I can use. Still I try to make sure nothing goes to waste.

A few days ago I posted about canning pizza sauce along with drying the tomato waste consisting of seeds and skin for tomato powder. Tomato powder is a wonderful product to have in your pantry. It ads nutrition, colour and flavour to soups, stews and meatloaf. This post is about two more tomato products that are must haves in your pantry.

drying tomato wafersWhen tomatoes are plentiful in the garden there is no choice but to either preserve what you can't eat or they will go to waste. I ran two varieties of tomatoes through the food mill then poured the resulting purée into a plastic container to be stored in the refrigerator until processing. The tomato purée separated into 3 layers (1). Note the yellowish layer as that is what I wanted for the tomato stock. If you use 1 variety you will end up with 2 layers. Removing this layer removes a lot of water from the tomato purée shortening the drying time which is a frugal energy reduction method. If you don't have cheesecloth then the top layer can be carefully removed for drying reserving the yellow layer for canning.

My preferred method is to use a cheesecloth lined strainer. As you can see in (2) the results is a much clearer juice. This raw tomato juice makes a lovely, refreshing summer drink! It does take awhile for the purée (3) to drain the juice. Once the purée stops dripping it is spread onto a parchment line baking sheet and dehydrated at 145ºF until it can easily pull from the paper. The semi-dried purée is then transferred to a drying rack and place back in the oven to continue drying until brittle. The fully dried purée is then broken into wafters about 2-inch pieces and vacuum sealed. The wafers have a deep, intense tomato flavour. They are used much the same way as tomato paste.

vacuum sealing dried foodsI highly recommend sealing any dried foods in glass jars to protect them from moisture, rodents and insects. The canister method can be used for sealing small jars or other jars with 1-piece lids that have a button indicator in the middle. Place the filled jar in the canister. Put the lid on the canister then attach to FoodSaver®. Vacuum on canister setting. When the appliance stops, release the vacuum on the canister at which time you will notice the lid on the jar become concave indicating it is vacuum sealed. Mason jars and any jar that will fit a mason jar lid either widemouth or standard can be sealed with the lid sealer attachment available in both sizes.

tomato stock and tomato wafersTomato Wafers & Stock

I love experimenting to see how many different and unique tomato products I can get in my pantry. These two extremely useful products certainly fit the bill! Both add nutrition, flavour and colour but in very different ways. The tomato wafers are used much the same way you would use tomato paste mainly in soups, stews and chili. I find it best to add a piece or two then mix well then taste adding more if necessary. The wafers can be rehydrated with a little boiling water to form a paste for use in meatloaves if desired. The tomato stock can also be poured into soups and stews to enhance the flavour. One of my favourite ways to use is as the liquid when cooking rice. It makes a nice liquid to cook pasta or meats in. It can also be thickened with a cornstarch or tapioca flour slurry to use as a glaze. So this is a very versatile tomato product to have in the pantry.

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