Tomatoville® Gardening Forums


Notices

Information and discussion about canning and dehydrating tomatoes and other garden vegetables and fruits. DISCLAIMER: SOME RECIPES MAY NOT COMPLY WITH CURRENT FOOD SAFETY GUIDELINES - FOLLOW AT YOUR OWN RISK

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old January 28, 2006   #1
Mischka
Tomatoville® Administrator
 
Mischka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Bay State
Posts: 3,173
Default More Information On Drying Tomatoes

Drying tomatoes is simple and the results -- delicious
by Shila Patel - reprinted with permission of the author

Few pleasures match the satisfaction of tasting summer's fruits long after the season has passed--appreciation seems to increase the further the calendar is from summer. Although the intense aroma and flavor of a tomato just picked from the vine are almost intoxicating, by season's end, dealing with the bounty is almost a burden. After all, there are only so many friends to share the harvest with.

Preserving these garden treasures, an art born of necessity, allows you to extend the season in several ways. Freezing fresh tomatoes is quick and easy, but the defrosted fruit can have a mealy texture. Canning offers easy, economical storage, though the method is anything but simple.

Unlike the temperature extremes essential for freezing and canning, drying tomatoes requires a gentler approach that is both simple and amply rewarding. Drying draws out the fruit's moisture, concentrating its flavor and bringing out its berry like essence. It can even enhance the taste of less than flavorful fresh tomatoes.

Drying is the oldest preservation method, traditionally requiring only the sun's energy over several days. The result is chewy, sweet-tart fruit of intense flavor and incredible versatility.

Selecting and Preparing Fruits

Any tomato can be dried, but for best results, begin with plum-type tomatoes; they have thick, meaty walls, fewer seeds, and less gel than salad or beefsteak types. Good choices for drying include 'La Roma', the standard for paste; 'San Marzano', prized by Italians for sauce; and 'Principe Borghese', a traditional variety best suited for drying. Vibrant yellow 'Lemon Boy' and bright orange 'Italian Gold' offer colorful variations. Cherry tomatoes, such as 'Sungold' and 'Sweet 100', tend to hold more sugars and acids than other types and are also excellent for drying; the result is piquant candy like fruits.

Choose firm, ripe, unblemished tomatoes; damaged or overripe fruits will spoil easily and cause others to do so, too. It's not necessary to blanch the fruits, but wash them well and pat dry. To ensure even drying, slice fruits as uniformly as possible. Half or quarter plum-type tomatoes lengthwise, and cut cherry tomatoes in half or leave whole. Slice other types 1/2- to 1/4-inch thick, depending on your preference. Expect a pound of fresh fruit to yield a little more than an ounce of dried tomatoes.

Traditional Sun-drying

This method requires a cooperative climate: a string of dry, sunny days with temperatures in the 90s and low relative humidity (less than 20 percent). Select an area that receives full sun, ideally one that also reflects the sun's rays (such as a paved area or flagstone patio).

Use clean plastic-mesh screens (available from cookware stores); metal wire may react with the acid in tomatoes to produce an off-flavor. Place the cut tomatoes in a single layer, allowing about an inch of space between the pieces for air circulation. Place a layer of cheesecloth on the fruits as a barrier against insects and birds, and set the trays at least a foot above the ground so air circulates freely underneath them. Bring the trays indoors each evening and if rain is forecast. Depending on their thickness, moisture content, and the weather, the tomatoes should dry to a leathery but soft consistency in three days to a week.

Easy Oven-drying

The most convenient drying option, especially if you are not ready to invest in a dehydrator, is using a traditional gas or electric oven on the lowest temperature setting. If your oven can't be set below 150 o F, slow-roasting (see below) will yield similarly tasty results. Oven-drying takes 6 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature and the fruits' size and moisture content. It's important to remove as much moisture as possible without allowing the fruits to dry completely, because the lower the moisture content, the longer the tomatoes can be stored safely. Dried fruits should be leathery and pliable.

Preheat the oven to 140 o to 145 o F. Place the prepared fruits skin side down on a plastic-mesh screen, or on a baking sheet lined with cooking parchment or a silicon baking mat. Prop the oven door open slightly to allow the moist, hot air to escape. Check the tomatoes regularly, and rotate the baking sheet if necessary. Dried fruit should be uniformly dry and pliable but not sticky when cool.

The fruits can also be removed earlier. Although these moister tomatoes must be refrigerated, they have a rich flavor and are ideal for packing in olive oil for up to a week.

Effortless Dehydrating

For uniform results, an electric dehydrator or a convection oven that offers a low temperature setting is matchless. Dehydrators have a heating element to produce the moderate temperatures (135 o to 140 o F) and low humidity critical for proper drying. The best dehydrators include a fan, temperature controls, and a timers. Depending on the model, drying can take 5 to 9 hours, but the results are evenly dried fruits well suited for long-term storage.

Convection ovens that can be set to temperatures of 110 o to 140 o F work similarly, but have less capacity. To obtain the best results from either appliance, follow the manufacturer's directions.

Never use a microwave oven to dry tomatoes; it can't provide the essential continuous, moderate heat and air circulation.

Storage and Uses

Allow dried tomatoes to cool completely before storing. To maintain their low moisture content, seal cooled, dried fruits in airtight bags, squeezing out excess air. Store the bags in a cool (60 o to 70 o F), dry, dark place for up to six months. Dried tomatoes can also be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to eight months or frozen for up to a year.

Use dried tomatoes in pastas, sandwiches, salads, and sauces. Chop or julienne them to accent many dishes. Dried tomatoes can also be rehydrated before use. Cover them in warm water or wine, and soak about 10 minutes, until they soften and plump slightly.

Slow Roasting Tomatoes

Unlike oven-drying, slow-roasting requires gently cooking the tomatoes until their juices caramelize. It is the perfect technique for gardeners with less time or for those with traditional ovens that don't have very low temperature settings. However, storage time is short: roasted tomatoes keep up to a week in the refrigerator, up to six months in the freezer.

To roast, preheat the oven to 225 o F. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet lined with cooking parchment or a silicon baking mat. For added flavor, lightly dress the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs such as marjoram, thyme, or rosemary, as well as salt and freshly ground black pepper. For a spicy-sweet variation that brings out the tomatoes' berry like flavor, drizzle flavored oil (such as lemon or orange) on the slices, and dust lightly with granulated sugar and cayenne pepper.

Slow-roasting takes 2 to 4 hours, but the fruits will remain very soft and moist. Allow them to cool completely before packing in a clean, airtight container and refrigerating. Roasted tomatoes are delicious in sandwiches and pastas, slipped into soups, and mashed into potatoes.
Mischka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 20, 2006   #2
Miss_Mudcat
Tomatovillian™
 
Miss_Mudcat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Central Alabama
Posts: 350
Default

Being a minor raw food enthusiast, I'd thought I'd let you know that recommended drying temps to maintain enzyme activity is between 105 and 120 degrees. However, this would require a longer drying time. It has been proven that you can start out at 145 degrees for the first 2 hours, then reduce the temp to 120 without losing enzymes, thus reducing the drying time.

Lisa
__________________
Farmers don't wear watches; they work until the job is done!
Miss_Mudcat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 1, 2006   #3
DonnaMarieNJ
Tomatovillian™
 
DonnaMarieNJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Northeast New Jersey
Posts: 649
Default

What do you do with a dried tomato? How do you use it, store it, etc.? How long does it keep? Does it have to be rehydrated? Sorry for so many questions. I hope, however, to put your answers to good use this year!
DonnaMarieNJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2, 2006   #4
Adenn1
Tomatovillian™
 
Adenn1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Philly
Posts: 558
Default

Donna:

I dried my cherry tomatoes last year in my dehydrator from Walmart. I stored them in ziploc bags and keep them in my cupboard. I "re-hydrate" them with water or olive oil and added them to soups, stews, meatloaf, etc.

I figure that they will keep at least one year if kept sealed properly.
Adenn1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2, 2006   #5
DonnaMarieNJ
Tomatovillian™
 
DonnaMarieNJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Northeast New Jersey
Posts: 649
Default

They don't get tough? How long can I store them if I want them in oil? And why the cupboard and not the freezer?
DonnaMarieNJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2, 2006   #6
Mischka
Tomatoville® Administrator
 
Mischka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: The Bay State
Posts: 3,173
Default

Properly dried tomatoes are very low in moisture content and freezing simply isn't necessary.

They don't become "tough" from drying; there's nothing tastier than a dried tomato and fresh basil with a slice of mozzarella melted and served on a whole wheat Ritz cracker :wink:

They should be stored in an airtight container just as you would any dried fruit, like plums or raisins.

Adding olive, sesame or any other quality vegetable oil to dried tomatoes will draw out the concentrated flavor quite nicely.
__________________
Mischka


One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress.


Whenever you visit my grave,

say to yourselves with regret

but also with happiness in your hearts

at the remembrance of my long happy life with you:


"Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved."


No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you,

and not all the power of death

can keep my spirit

from wagging a grateful tail.
Mischka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2, 2006   #7
Miss_Mudcat
Tomatovillian™
 
Miss_Mudcat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Central Alabama
Posts: 350
Default

After drying, I store mine in an airtight container in the cupboard. To rehydrate, I place a large handful in a bowl of water and let them soak for one hour. I then drain the water and cover them with olive oil, crushed garlic and sea salt. There are many uses for them. Our favorite is to layer them over pizza crust with other favorite toppings and bake as usual. Or, put them in a blender and use them as a dipping sauce for breadsticks or serve over pasta.

Lisa
__________________
Farmers don't wear watches; they work until the job is done!
Miss_Mudcat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2, 2006   #8
DonnaMarieNJ
Tomatovillian™
 
DonnaMarieNJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Northeast New Jersey
Posts: 649
Default

Now I'm hungry and I just had root canal....

....sigh.....
DonnaMarieNJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 30, 2006   #9
SelfSufficient1
Tomatovillian™
 
SelfSufficient1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 188
Default

I tried drying mine once but Phil did not like the skins on them. On pizza does sound good though.
__________________
I could spend all day here!
SelfSufficient1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 8, 2006   #10
David52
Tomatovillian™
 
David52's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: SW Colorado
Posts: 74
Default Drying big beefsteaks

A few years ago, we had one of those big harvest years with hundreds of the various varieties of the big beef steaks. We used a food dehydrator with every other shelf removed. We took an individual tomato, sliced off the top and bottom to yield an inch thick slab, and placed these on the dryer shelves, packing them in there, jamming them in until the shelves sagged. A bushel of tomatoes will fill a 14 shelf dryer. 24-30 hours later, some can be removed, some need to have a bit of skin pierced and let go for another 12 hours. They dry out to the thickness of thinnish cardboard, like a couple of pieces that one would find holding up the collar of a new shirt.

The result is considerably different from the run-of-the-mill dried tomato; there are distinct, wonderful differences between varieties (although they don't necessarily taste much like a fresh one). I made the mistake of jumbling them altogether when they were dried, it would be fun to keep the varieties separate.

One caveat, here its very low humidity so things dry quickly, so your milage may vary re drying times. However, moistened with a bit of balsamic / water / soy combo, they make a seriously good sandwich. On whole wheat toast.
__________________
That last tomato, dear? What last tomato? That stain on my shirt collar? Um, er, lipstick.
David52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30, 2008   #11
tuk50
Tomatovillian™
 
tuk50's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tucson, Arizona (catalina)
Posts: 413
Default

Last year my dil ate smoked dried tomatoes at a Italian restraunt and asked me to make her some, so I had Black Plum growing and used them cut in half and I used heavy smoke from wet Mesquite chips for one hour then moved them into the dehydrator at 120deg overnight and pierced with exacto knife the next morning and continued drying till pliable and placed in widemouth pint jars covered with EVOO. I let them stand in cool dark shelf for about a week and within a month we had eaten all 4pints. This year we are trying Black Cherry. They are surprisingly delicious!8)
tuk50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30, 2008   #12
coronabarb
Tomatoville® Recipe Keeper
 
coronabarb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Roseburg, Oregon - zone 7
Posts: 2,670
Default

I have a small smoker and really should try making some smoked tomatoes this year. It sounds so delicious. I suppose putting them in the dehydrator afterwards would concentrate the smoke flavor. So, you smoked them heavily for an hour and the flavor wasn't too strong? I tend to overdo the smoke sometimes. ;-)
__________________
Corona~Barb
Now an Oregon gal
coronabarb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30, 2008   #13
tuk50
Tomatovillian™
 
tuk50's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tucson, Arizona (catalina)
Posts: 413
Default

I like it oversmoked, but my dil was quality control on this batch....LOL.. and she ate the first and last pint jar, so I guess it was about right. I loved them mixed with jalapeno's done the same way and after dried put in a blender and add a little tomato juice to make our version of mole and use it on mexican food, my favorite is over crunchy taco's. 8)
ps don't forget to wear a bib!
tuk50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 7, 2012   #14
zeroma
Tomatovillian™
 
zeroma's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 637
Default

Could I get a smoky flavor witout having 'a smoker"? I have "liquid smoke".


I have a dehydrator and about 8 pounds of Chocolate cherry tomatoes. It will be my first fime using the deyh. but have many more tomatoes coming. I'd love to do some different tastes. Or would it be better to add the flavors/spices/smoke/etc after the drying process when rehydrating them?

thanks
zeroma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 11, 2012   #15
meadowyck
Tomatovillian™
 
meadowyck's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Brooksville, FL
Posts: 1,004
Default

Mischka
Thanks so much for sharing that as I've never done it and hope to later this year, so this is a very timely thread to come up again.
__________________
Jan

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
-Theodore Roosevelt
meadowyck is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:45 AM.


★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2017 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★