For those of you who have never tried it before, you may be surprised to learn just how easy it is to preserve tomatoes or other produce through dehydration. Drying tomatoes also gives them a sweet, rich flavor that can be used all year-long to enhance your favorite foods.
Once dried, you can also put the dried tomatoes in the blender and make a powder to sprinkle on foods.
When using a dehydrator like the ones we sell in the “Food Drying” area of our general store here, there are only three simple steps to dry your tomatoes to perfection.
1. Wash your tomatoes and slice into halves if the fruit is small, making sure each piece is ½” or thinner. Even thinner slices can reduce the time by hours, but try to cut them about the same thickness so that they are done at the same time. You can use any tomato, paste or slicing, but the paste tomatoes will dry faster and yield more end product because there is less water in them. In this posting, we used the Principe Borghese, an heirloom that is popular in Italy for drying because of their superior flavor. The seeds may be hard to find, but we now sell them in our General Store.
3. Store in zip-lock bags or jars with tight lids. You can store the dried tomatoes on the shelf in a cool, dry location for about a year. Freezing the food will extend their shelf life further.
2. Place cut fruit on drying trays and set temperature to about 135 degrees or “fruit setting,” until dry. (Note: Other types of foods like basil will use a lower heat setting. ) In our example, it took from 16 to 20 hours to fully dry them, but this can vary depending on how much moisture is in the fruit and how thick you slice them. The photo below, showing them partly dry, was taken after 12 hours of drying time.
Drying is a simple, rewarding way to preserve all types of fresh vegetables. For more detailed information on food drying you can visit this link at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
This extreme closeup photo shows three small, mostly dried pieces of tomatoes.