I have tons of dried tomatoes. OK, not quite tons but a lot. I like them soaked in olive oil. In fact, I love them soaked in olive oil. The only problem is, I'm the only one around here who has such exquisite taste. The grand kids don't like dried tomatoes.
This doesn't mean the tomatoes are going to go to waste. They will never see the inside of the chicken coop! I just have to change them into something else. What am I going to do with bags of dried tomatoes? I probably filled the dehydrator two or three times. What about tomato paste? Making tomato paste is such a long process of cooking down the tomatoes. When I do need paste I only need a cup at most. How about taking the dried tomatoes and grinding them into tomato powder?
I put most of the tomatoes into the food processor and blended away. My first batch that I tried blending had too many tomatoes in it and they just didn't powder well. Too many chunks. The next batch I used just a couple handfuls and it chopped better. They blended down into a nice reddish orange chunky powder. I didn't want to keep the processor going as I didn't think I needed to turn it into a fine powder. I made about 3 cups of chunky tomato powder. Now, if I need tomato paste, instead of using the store bought cans (OK, I have about 30 of them in storage) I can just use the powder and add hot water to rehydrate. I can make the paste as thick or as thin as I need. After all, don't most recipes say to use a can of tomato paste and add water? Most tomato pastes are just tomatoes and salt. I can add salt to taste.
Years ago, when I lived a few hours north, I rented part of my yard to a grower. He grew crops on about 2 of my acres and then had a fruit stand set up in my yard. He went to the produce market and many of the items he sold didn't come from the yard. I didn't like that part of what he did, but he didn't hide it. He left the produce boxes sitting out for everyone to see. One of the things he did was dry tomatoes. He set up a piece of plywood on two sawhorses with the plywood at a slight slope. He then put a white bed sheet on the plywood, sprinkled salt on the bed sheet and then placed the sliced tomatoes on the salt. He covered the top with another bed sheet. This was set out in the hot, breezy sun. Each day he would turn the tomatoes over and sprinkle them with a little more salt. I do recall a couple of times that he changed the sheet but most of the time he didn't. In not too many days the tomatoes were dried. He'd then put them into olive oil and sell them at the fruit stand. They were a big hit.
Making my tomato paste by grinding up the dried tomatoes saves space, canning jars and lids, and probably energy since I don't have to dry the tomatoes in the dehydrator or cook them on the stove top or in the crockpot. They can be sun dried by laying them out in the sun and sprinkling salt on them to help with the drying process. I don't have to use the plywood method. I can put them on the trays and cover the trays with netting and hang them on the clothesline like I did this summer for my other outside dried fruits and vegetables. I can't wait for next summer. I think I will grow a lot more tomatoes and dry my tomato sauce and tomato paste, not just tomato slices. Why didn't I think of this sooner?