Tomatoes: The Overlooked Survival Food
On my list of the Top Ten Food for Stocking Up, I impulsively added tomatoes as #6. During the past few days I’ve been keeping an eye on the foods we most often eat, and sure enough, tomatoes are a big part of our diet. Sunday we dined on tacos and tostadas, both topped with salsa. The next night we gorged on take-out pizza with a delicious tomato sauce flavored with red wine. Ketchup is the life blood of my kids’ lunches, and my favorite soups are tomato based. Why haven’t I focused on stocking up on tomatoes before??
One reason I’m glad to include tomatoes as a major part of my food storage is that they contain healthy doses of Vitamins A and C and are wonderfully low in calories. Tomatoes are a natural diuretic being 90% water themselves and can help flush toxins out of your body. On top of all that, they’ve been found to contain lycopene, an amazing element that combats cancer.
The peak season for growing your own tomatoes has passed, if you live in North America, but they’re available at the market year round. If you can get your hands on a large number of fresh tomatoes, here are some options for you, other than letting them rot in your vegetable drawer!
Oven Dried Tomatoes
What a delicous way to preserve your tomatoes, and this couldn’t be simpler. Wash your tomatoes and slice them about 1/2″ thick. Toss them with salt, pepper, and olive oil and place them on a baking rack. Bake at a very low temperature, 225 degrees, for at least 2-3 hours. You’ll know they’re done when they feel like soft leather and are chewy. For long-term storage, freeze them using a vacuum food storage system.
Again, wash and slice tomatoes, but this time, layer them on dehydrator trays. If you’re new to food dehydration, read this. Tomatoes will need a good 6-12 hours of dehydrating time, and when they’re finished, they’ll be crispy.
Homemade Tomato Powder
The first time I heard of tomato powder, I thought, “Huh?” It turns out that this is a great ingredient for adding tomato flavor and nutrients to soups, chiles, stews, salad dressings, and more, and it can be quickly rehydrated as tomato sauce. Stored in the fridge, tomato powder will last indefinitely. To make your own, seed your tomato slices before dehydration. Once you have crispy tomato slices, break them into small pieces and turn them into powder using your food processer or blender. I use my Magic Jack and get great results.
The Paranoid Dad’s Secret Salsa Recipe
We love this fresh flavored salsa. You can add cilantro, if you like. I love cilantro, but Parnoid Dad says it tastes like dirt. Go figure.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine these ingredients until thoroughly heated:
3 T. oil
3 T. vinegar
3 t. salt
3 t. sugar
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Pour warmed liquid into a bowl and add 1 large can tomatoes (chopped or pureed), 1 chopped white onion, chopped jalapenos to taste. Add a nice big bag of tortilla chips, and dinner is served!
Yes, you can make delicious, homemade ketchup, seasoned just the way you like it! I’ve found that some store brands are too sugary, and the sugar free brand is quite pricey. Two recipes I’ve found online are this one from Hillbilly Housewife, and this slightly more gourmet version. Yumm!
What’s so great about tomatoes, is that they come in so many different canned versions, which make them an incredibly affordable part of your food storage. It’s not unusual for my local grocery store to price cans of tomato sauce at 25 cents each. Stock up on those cans of pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, chopped tomates, whew! They will add an infinite variety to the recipes you’ll make using your stockpiled food and provide a nutrient dense ingredient as well.
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