When tomatoes unexpectedly arrived from a friend in Tennessee, I pulled out the canner and the dehydrator to preserve these vine-ripened early surprises.
I’ve had my dehydrator for years, and it’s wonderful for many things, but I mainly use it to make sun-dried tomatoes that are (obviously) not sun-dried. While Italians like to spread their sliced tomatoes out to dry in the heat of summer, they have far less humidity than we do in Kentucky, so I find the dehydrator works much faster and enables me to get nearly the same results.
I washed these large Roma tomatoes and then sliced them in half, laying them on the dehydrating racks leaving enough room for each to breathe. After each rack is stacked, I use a little higher than medium heat. The process takes around 24 hours. Usually, I will remove the smaller tomatoes that dry faster and then leave the ones that need more time.
The goal is to have them pliable without any liquid in them, but not crispy. After they have been processed, I vacuum pack, mark their date and freeze. They are delicious in tomato sauces or pasta salads.
I canned the remaining tomatoes in my seven-quart pressure cooker. These canned tomatoes will be excellent for pasta sauces, soups, and even southern stewed tomatoes. Here is my process.
I blanch each tomato by dropping it in boiling water for about a minute, so the skin comes off easily. After peeling the skin, I push the whole or halved tomato into a quart jar with a teaspoon of salt.
I wipe off the top of the jar so the lids can seal and then place the sterilized lids and bands on each jar. I put a quart of water and a tablespoon of white vinegar in the canner, then place each jar inside. After sealing the top, I set it to 5 pounds of weight. After reaching that level, I time for 20 minutes.
Don’t be afraid to try canning! While each pressure cooker comes with wonderful instructions, I always recommend watching a friend do it first. That’s how I learned, and I’m forever grateful to Susan Brown for that day in her kitchen when she showed me how to can green beans. Thanks, friend!