Welcome to Freeze Dried Friday on SurvivalBlog! We’ve been making so many things in the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer that we want to share some of them with you. If you have something wonderful you’ve prepared in your freeze dryer that you would like to share with SurvivalBlog readers, take a photo of it and send it in along with a description. We might just feature you here! Freeze Dried Tomato Meat Sauce is today’s feature.
Broken Pump Seal Update
I received the supply of spare parts I ordered including the spare vacuum cartridge. An interesting note is that I thought the bulk of the weight of the pump (aside from the motor) was in the casing. Nope. The vacuum cartridge is quite a bit heavier than the aluminum casing of the pump. When one of these cartridges breaks down and has to be replaced, I think I’m going to tear it apart just to see what’s inside. In the meantime, due to some other pressing concerns, I wasn’t able to rebuild the leaking pump, so we will put that off until next week.
Tomato Meat Sauce
This week was Tomato Meat Sauce week with 4 gallons of it being made and freeze dried. Mrs. Latimer’s recipe has large chunks of homemade beef sausage and fresh mushrooms in it and it’s made with tomatoes fresh from the garden. She makes the sauce a gallon at a time, cooking the tomatoes down to a thick sauce consistency with the spices and other goodies in it. One of the advantages of Freeze drying the product is that you can make soup, sauce, paste, spread or anything in-between by just controlling how much water you add when you reconstitute it. We typically cook it into a sauce consistency. I define this to be the point where when you ladle a spoon of it onto your pasta, there is no (or very little) water that spreads out on your plate, but the sauce doesn’t pile up.
One quart of sauce fills up one standard sized tray to approximately 1/2 inch. There are a few caveats though. Tomato based freeze dried products have a tendency to come out of the machine like weak concrete. The chunks are easy to break up, but the texture and consistency makes it difficult to get a complete finish in one standard cycle. I typically extend the final heat cycle by one or two hours when I start the machine up and when you check it, you may have to break it up and turn it over, running it for a couple more hours of finish time.
I prefer not to crush it into fine powder when I pack it in the Mason jar for vacuum sealing as I like the chunky texture. If you want a fine texture, just take a rolling pin to the freeze dried product and crush it thoroughly before packing it. The final product loses very little of it’s volume (unless you intentionally crush it very fine) and each finished tray will fit in one quart jar with a bit of gentle smooshing. We always write on the top of the jar lid with a sharpie, the product, date and any special instructions for reconstituting.
Fill the quart jar with hot water and you have one quart of tomato meat sauce. Fill it with one pint of hot water and you end up with a pint of tomato meat paste. Empty half of the jar into another and fill it with a quart of water and you get one quart of tomato meat soup. How easy is that?