Dehydrating tomatoes is an easy and excellent way to store away one of the most amazing tastes of the summer season. Whether you are drying them for use in your favorite everyday recipes or using them as an addition to your emergency food stock, tomatoes are a nutrient and taste rich food that if dried and stored correctly can last up to five years.
If making dehydrated tomatoes is not a project that you have ever embarked on – do not let the idea intimidate you. The process for drying tomatoes for later use is relatively simple and with a bit of practice you will very likely be a master dehydrator in no time.
Before you start the dehydrating process, you must first clean and prepare your tomatoes. Begin by rinsing your produce under cool tap water to remove any dirt or pesticides. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it to the side. Then, place a large pot of water on the stove and wait for it to come to a boil.
While you are waiting for your water to boil, use a sharp knife to cut a large X into the bottom of the tomato. Do not make the cut deep – it only needs to cut through the skin and not the flesh of the tomato. Once you have cut all of your tomatoes in this fashion, place them a few at a time into the boiling water, allowing them to blanch for approximately 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the hot water with a draining spoon and immediately place them in the ice water for roughly a minute.
Once you have submerged your tomatoes in the ice water, you will need to core and peel them. Simply core the tomato and slice off the ends as you normally would. As you do this, pull the skin off of them as well, they should slip from the flesh easily without needing much help.
Now that your tomatoes are clean and peeled, they need to be sliced so that they can be dehydrated. How you slice them will depend on what variety of tomato you are using. If you are dehydrating tomatoes that are bite sized – like cherry tomatoes for instance – simply cut them in half. Larger tomatoes such as the Roma or Slicing varieties will need to be cut into slices as close to ¼ inch as possible.
Before you begin dehydrating tomatoes, you will first need to take precaution to ensure that they will not stick to the trays of your machine. In order to prevent this, simply use a paper towel or a baking brush to spread a light layer of vegetable or olive oil over the surface of your trays.
It is now time to place your tomato slices in the dehydrator. As you do this, be sure to try and place them roughly ½” apart – and not allowing them to touch. If your tomatoes are too close together it prevents adequate airflow and slows down drying time. It also helps if you set your racks so that they have 1-2” of space between them.
Now that you are all set up and ready to go – the only thing you have left to decide upon is whether to season your tomatoes. You do have the option of adding seasonings, spices, or oils to your produce to give them an extra flavorful kick when you bring them back to life.
Looking for some zest? Try sprinkling salt, basil and garlic powder on your tomatoes before you begin drying.
Turn on your dehydrator to begin drying your tomatoes. Check on them regularly to monitor their progress, making sure to remove pieces that dry faster than others – as this will prevent scorching. Complete drying process typically takes 8-12 hours.
Once you have finished dehydrating tomatoes they should appear to have a leathery skin and be shriveled down from their original size. Once your tomatoes are thoroughly dried, you can then store them in airtight bags, jars or canisters.
Dehydrating tomatoes can be a bit time consuming because of their high water content, but they are definitely worth all the trouble. Seasoned dried tomatoes are not only delicious when revived but are an excellent way to add a whole lot of flavor to your favorite everyday recipes.