My husband and I tried our hand at canning this weekend. You know, it being “Labour Day” weekend, and all, we actually thought it would be funny if we laboured. It was only when the temperature climbed past 30 degrees Celsius that we began to question our sanity. Who stands in front of a boiling stove in the heat of summer? Why?
The idea of putting fresh summer produce away for winter swayed us, that’s why. The romance of popping open a jar of summer-ripened tomatoes to recall the fragrance of sunshine on hot vines in the bleak cold of January seemed alluring. I fear the two of us are more likely to remember bickering over the hot water bath over the length of time boiling should take place to prevent botulism.
The canning ordeal finished, we were left with an abundance of tomato skins. I recalled an article that suggested drying the skins and crumbling them for flavour or colour in soups and such. I wondered if crumbling the tomato skins with sea salt, and herbs would yield a pink, tomato salt?
Flavoured salt isn’t new, but it’s a great way to put the skin to use. We laid out a parchment on a cookie sheet and baked them at 350 Celsius for 20 minutes to get them dry. Keep in mind, my oven is a slow one – anyone else’s may take as little as 15 minutes to get them toasty and dry.
The trick was to make sure the tomato skins were dry and crumbly, not the consistency of fruit leather. It took fiddling with the temperature and the time until the skins came out with the feel of crisp, papery parchment.
Once the dry skins were measured, we used an equal amount of coarse Kosher sea salt. Once they would be whizzed around in a food processor, the crystals would be ground down.
Once everything gets blended together, don’t worry if the mix looks a bit lumpy. Add some dried herbs of choice (I’d recommend oregano or rosemary) and put it in a cute glass container. It will make a heck of a seasoning in the dead of winter, or an impressive looking hostess gift in the colder months ahead.