Dehydrating Tomatoes

Tomatoes after 12 hours in the dehydrator

Tomato season always seems too short. This season more than most. A lot of us want to save as many of them as possible. Canning is great and freezing, too. Still, I enjoy “sun-dried” tomatoes so much I always make sure to dry plenty of them.  In warmer, drier climates tomatoes really can be sun-dried. Not possible where I live so I use a dehydrator to dry mine. It’s easy and only requires a little patience.

To prep tomatoes for drying just cut them in half- for small tomatoes and plum tomatoes, or slice larger ones. Remove the seeds- I use a spoon for small tomatoes and just squeeze larger tomatoes after slicing in half. Then I slice the larger ones. They will stick to your dehydrator tray unless you oil it first. I use a non-stick spray or dip a paper towel in oil and rub it over the trays. Start tomatoes cut side up for the first 12 hours or so. This will help with the sticking problem. Then you turn them over and continue drying until crisp. Time will vary with the size of the tomatoes and with individual dehydrators. My small dehydrator has a pre-set temperature so I just leave them in. My larger one has temperature controls so I start my tomatoes for the first couple of hours at 150 degrees then reduce heat to 130 until dried. Drying normally takes a day or two. Once dried, I store my dried tomatoes in the freezer. Left at room temperature tomatoes tend to reabsorb moisture and will darken. Edible but not pretty. You can also use moisture absorbing packets, vacuum seal and store at room temperature.

You can also powder some of the dried tomatoes. I use the tomato powder when a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste. I just mix a small amount of water in with the powdered tomatoes until I get the consistency desired. I also like to add the tomato powder to sauces and soups for extra flavor. It is a nice addition to salad dressings, too.

Oven drying is possible. Oven should be set at 130-with the door cracked to allow moisture to escape. I don’t recommend it because of the time required and the heat it generates- with the oven door cracked open. I do have friends that dry in their ovens all the time and say its fine. Would love to hear if you have oven dried tomatoes.

The tomatoes when I put them in. Note how much they will shrink.

The tomatoes when I put them in. Note how much they will shrink.


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