The arrival of fall signals the end of my garden. But as usual my tomatoes are still slowly producing, so I’ve been making dehydrated tomatoes.
It’s easy to do them in small batches, because 4 or 5 tomatoes won’t make much sauce, but it’s easy to dry them and you can do a little at a time.
Originally I was going to make dehydrated tomatoes in my oven. I had cooling rack (for cookies and such) that fit perfectly in my cookie sheets and I put the tomato slices on them and in the oven on 200 for about 12 hours. They actually dried quite nicely, but to my dismay I discovered that the cooling racks were nonstick and the tomato acid ate the nonstick coating off. So I had to throw that batch away. If you put the tomato slices directly on the trays and turn them after 6 hours they should dry fine. I wasn’t home enough to do that.
I had been saving for a dehydrator, and after my yogurt fiascoes, I just took the plunge and bought my dehydrator (it has a yogurt setting). I love it, it’s been worth every penny, and I’ve used it so much already!
Back to making dehydrated tomatoes:
I blanch my tomatoes to help with color retention, it also allows the skins to nicely slip off.
Blanching is done by plunging your washed tomatoes into boiling water for 60 seconds. Then transfer them to a sink of cold water. The skins should slide off easily at this point.
*If you have a steamer, cut off the tops, and slice your tomatoes; steam the slices for 30 seconds then plop in cold water and slide the peels off. This is the best, and recommended way to do it. (I don’t have a steamer, so I just blanch them)
I first tried cutting the tomatoes in wedges to dry, but since all tomatoes are different sizes, the wedges were different sizes and they didn’t all dry evenly. I now slice them in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices, so they will all be dry around the same time.
I set my dehydrator on 125 which is the recommended setting for vegetables and let my tomatoes dry for around 12 hours. After about 10 hours I check them to see if they can be pulled off early. You will be able to tell if your tomatoes are dry by how they feel. If they are crispy or rubbery, they are dry enough.
I then vacuum seal my dehydrated tomatoes in pint jars and put them in my pantry. If you do not have a vacuum sealer then your dried tomatoes need to be either frozen or put in the fridge. While you may be able to put them on the shelf without sealing them, I consider it a bit risky and don’t recommend it.
Dehydrated tomatoes are amazingly easy to do and a dehydrator is truly worth the cost. So far I have used it to make yummy thick yogurt, raise bread, make banana chips, ginger candies, dehydrated tomatoes and tomorrow I am going to use up the apples we picked a month ago and make apple chips!
One of my favorite ways to use dehydrated tomatoes is in my Easy Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Salad Dressing!