Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

An experiment: slow cooker tomato paste

I’m sure that my readers have noticed I’ve been rather quiet lately. I apologize but life has been busy kicking me in the shins. It’s been very hot here for the last several weeks and it messes with my Multiple Sclerosis. The result is that I have the brain power of your average carrot and the energy of your average rock. I’ve been sleeping up 15 hours a night. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave much time for cooking, let alone blogging. To top things off, a dear friend of mine passed away and I started back to school. However, I have the most insane tomato plants EVER this year and sometimes you just gotta do something with them.

So… Sunday afternoon I picked about 20lbs of tomatoes. Yep, you read that right, 20 POUNDS of tomatoes. I knew that with the heat I wasn’t in any condition to peel and can them whole, plus a lot of them were slightly over-ripe. I still have several quarts of tomato sauce in the freeze from last year so I don’t need sauce… what to do, what to do. Then I got an email with an update on my friend Cat’s blog. She was using some of the tomatoes I gave her to make tomato paste.

Now, at some point in the past I vaguely remember reading a recipe for making tomato paste in a slow cooker. Being the lazy sort I thought that sounded just right up my alley. Also being the lazy sort, I didn’t actually go find the directions, I just decided to play it by ear. So yes, I’m trying something I might have read an article about as long as ten years ago without actually looking it up again. I’m just special that way. 😉

So the first thing I did was toss all the tomatoes in the slow cooker for a day and a half on warm. I would have used one of my big pots but Jene (my usually very helpful husband) had placed all my large pots out of reach and wasn’t around to get them off the high shelf. (He hates having them sitting around in accessible places like the top of the chest freezer or the dining table. Go figure…) So I thought if I was going to use the slow cooker anyway, I might as well start with it. So I put almost all 20 lbs of tomatoes in the slow cooker. I did leave a few out for making salads 🙂

Obviously, with that many tomatoes, you can’t put the lid on but that’s ok because you don’t really want the lid on. That was on Sunday. Today I came back and ran everything through my food mill to get the seeds and skins out. I actually have a cool contraption, Cat calls her’s The Machine, that will do this too but it was too much like work to go find it and put it together. Food mill being at hand, that was my tomato smooshing weapon of choice.

Now this is where things get really experimental… According to my vague memory, the tomato puree goes in the slow cooker on the lowest heat setting without the lid on. Leaving the lid off allows the extra water to evaporate as opposed to just running back down off the lid. So I now have about 3.5 qts of puree in my slow cooker. I have no idea how long it’s going to take to cook down to paste. My guess is that I’ll be able to ignore it for a couple of days except for occasionally giving it a stir.

Come back later and I’ll tell you how it turned out! 😀

Oh and a note about pickles… my pickled mushrooms came out quite tasty but could have definitely used some more time to mellow. So I won’t be opening the dill pickles or the mixed veggie pickles for another week or two.

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