Tomato Chips

Because it’s the end of the growing season, and gardeners probably have an overabundance of tomatoes, I thought I would share this again. I use these tomato chips in place of sundried tomatoes all year long. Delicious!

This is the easiest way I have found to preserve your abundant tomato harvest.  Only two ingredients besides the tomatoes, and so simple!

The first thing you will do is thinly slice the tomatoes — not more than 1/4 inch thick.  Spread the slices in a single layer on the dehydrator mesh tray making sure the slices are not touching each other.  There is no need to line the tray with a teflex sheet or parchment paper.20130917_211051 tomato chips ready for dehydrator, 2

Lightly sprinkle each slice with a little Herbamare (or any sea salt and herb seasoning you desire). Then top with some nutritional yeast. Dehydrate for 6 – 8 hours or overnight.  Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the pantry, and they’ll stay crisp all winter. 20130921_134958 tomato chips jarred, 2

Bet you can’t eat just one!

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Freeze Your Tomato Harvest

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I grew up helping my mother can tomatoes the old fashioned way. We spent hours skinning the tomatoes in boiling water, sterilizing glass quart jars, and then processing the tomato-filled jars in a boiling water bath and waiting to hear the “pop” as each jar cooled and sealed. It was an all day project that most gardeners endured in order to enjoy the fruit of their labor during the long winter months.

Later, as a young wife, my mother-in-law taught me how to freeze fresh tomatoes. It still involved skinning the tomatoes in boiling water, and then slicing them into eighths. But, instead of the canning process, you just had to pack and freeze them in plastic quart containers. I thought this system was a real time saver, and did it that way for years.

Imagine my surprise when I learned just last year that there is a MUCH simpler way to freeze all the tomatoes we harvest from our garden, and now this is how I do it:

First, wash and core (cut out the stem end) your whole tomatoes.

Place the cored tomatoes on a tray with sides (leave a little space around each one — you don’t want them to touch) and place the tray in the freezer. (notice that you DO NOT have to peel the tomatoes). IMG_0177

When they are completely frozen (like the next day), put the whole frozen tomatoes in a gallon size plastic freezer bag, zip closed, and store in the freezer until needed.

When you are ready to use, simply remove however many tomatoes you need and hold each one under hot running water. The skin will easily slip off the frozen tomato. Then let them defrost just long enough to be able to slice or chop.

That’s it! You can easily fit this method of preserving your tomato harvest into even the busiest day and be satisfied with the results.

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Zucchini, Zucchini, and More Zucchini!!!

IMG_0141By mid July most home gardeners find themselves drowning in zucchini. We loved planting those seeds a couple of months ago and the almost instant gratification when we saw the sturdy green sprouts poke through the soil. But by now we are asking why we ever planted so much zucchini (face it, you really only need one plant and you’ll have all the zucchini you need for the summer). You know it’s bad when friends start to avoid you because they’re afraid you’ll try to “bless” them with more of your zucchini harvest!
Well, did you know that you can freeze fresh shredded zucchini , and it’s so easy to do? Simply wash the zucchini. Don’t peel it, but cut off the stem and the blossom end. Shred the whole zucchini. Zucchini is very moist, so you will want to get most of the water out. An easy way to do that is to put the shredded zucchini in a colander or large strainer; salt and toss it so that the salt is evenly distributed. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then squeeze out the moisture — you will be surprised how much comes out. You can freeze the drained shredded zucchini in one cup portions, and then it will be ready to use it in your favorite recipes all winter.
Hiding this shredded zucchini in whatever you cook (soups, stews, “meat” loaves) is a great way to get more green veggies into your kids’ diets. Hint: to make it even more inconspicuous, peel the zucchini before shredding and they will never suspect a thing:)