How to Dry Tomatoes at Home
Bacteria and microorganisms need moisture to grow in the food. Some microorganisms spoil food while others can make us sick. Drying food removes about 20% of the moisture from the food so microorganisms can’t grow. Drying creates a hard outer-layer, helping to stop microorganisms from entering the food. Drying extends the shelf life of food by slowing down natural enzymes that make our food soft, mushy and yucky!
Plum, oval or pear-shaped Italian, Roma or paste tomatoes are best for drying.
A food dehydrator is the best options for drying tomatoes. Sun or air drying is not a viable option for Minnesota’s high summer humidity levels. Oven drying tomatoes can be done but may take up to 40 hours to dry so it not recommended.
Drying concentrates the flavor adding richness to recipes. Dried tomatoes are a quick snack and excellent on pizza or bruschetta or added to pasta sauces.
How to Dry Tomatoes in a Food Dehydrator
Step 1: Choose firm, ripe tomatoes. Store tomatoes waiting to be dried at room temperature. The tart acid flavor is lost if tomatoes are refrigerated.
Step 2: Wash the tomatoes under running water. The temperature of the water should be at least 10 degrees warmer than the tomatoes. Scrub with a soft cloth or produce brush.
Step 3: Prepare tomatoes for drying. You can dry without or without the skin. To remove the skin, steam or dip in boiling water for 30 seconds. Chill in ice water then peel. Remove the center stem and core. Slice plum tomatoes in ¼ to ½ thick slices or halve or quarter. Place tomatoes on trays cut side up, leaving ½ inch space between tomatoes.
Step 4: Dry in a dehydrator set at 140° F. Place tomatoes on drying trays cut-side-up. Dry for 10 to 18 hours. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Step 5: Test for dryness they should easily bend in half and not break or stick when folded. Remove dried tomatoes from dehydrator. Continue to dry tomatoes that are sticky or moist. Turn tomatoes and rotate racks.
Step 6: Store dry tomatoes in air-tight freezer bags. Store in a cool (60° F), dark place or freeze. Be sure to press out the air of the bags. For best quality, use within 6 to 9 months.
Step 7: Eat and Enjoy. Rehydrating is not necessary. Add dried tomatoes directly to sauces, soups, pizza or your favorite recipe.
Sun-dried tomatoes, University of Florida, http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/giam/plants_and_grasses/fruits_vegetables/dried_tomatoes.html
Drying Tomatoes, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension, http://fcs.okstate.edu/food2/food/food/2006/2006%20food/drytomts.htm
Drying Tomatoes, University of California, http://ucanr.org/sites/scmg/The_Kitchen_Garden/?story=654
Harrison, J. A. and Andress, E. L. “Preserving Food: Drying Fruits and Vegetables,” U. of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/uga/uga_dry_fruit.pdf
Photo source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation