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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

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Old January 28, 2006   #1
Mischka
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Default Dehydrating

What kind of tomatoes to use?

Traditionally plum or paste type tomatoes are used for drying. You may, however try any type that you like. You want them to be firm and ripe but not over ripe, which will lead to decay. For larger round or slicer type tomatoes slice them crosswise into no more than 1/4 inch thick pieces. For cherry tomatoes cut them in half.

Are they still nutritious when dried?

They are but some of the nutrients do get lost when we dry fruits and vegetables. The water-soluble vitamins, such as B and C are gone. Nutrients like the minerals, fiber content, vitamin A and the phytochemicals become concentrated when we take the water out with the drying process.


To Sun Dry

Carefully wash and dry your tomatoes first. Cut them in half lengthwise, you can remove seeds if you like but it is not necessary. If you do remove the seeds try to be careful not to remove the pulp. Use a spoon or your fingers to scoop out the seeds. Cutting a slit in the skin side of the tomato will help accelerate the drying process.


Place the halves skin side down and/or the slices on a framed plastic screen (we use our seed drying trays for this), being careful not to lose any liquid from them and spread them out so that none are touching. You can salt them at this time for a little more flavor and the salt will help to draw the liquid from them. The drying process will concentrate all the flavor in the juice. Use a cheesecloth cover over the screen to protect the tomatoes from bugs and crud. Raise the cheesecloth off the tomatoes slightly with wood skewers or something like that. Then place the screen outside in the sun with some boards or something to raise it a few inches and allow air to circulate underneath it. It will take at least a few days of sunshine, sometimes up to 12 days, to properly dry the tomatoes and you need to bring the whole set up indoors overnight, once the sun goes down.


The Results: When your tomatoes have dried properly they will have a dark red color or if using yellow, pink, white etc. type tomatoes they will have a darker, more intense color than they originally had. They should feel dry and pliable or leathery to the touch. They should not be hard and brittle or moist. You should be able to stick your finger in the center of them, pull it away and have no pulp on your finger.


Storage: Now that you have made it this far here is how you store them. Your dehydrated tomatoes take little space to store. They can be stored in plastic bags or airtight glass jars. For plastic bags: pack the tomatoes as tightly as you can, squeezing out the excess air. If you have a vacuum sealer it would be perfect for this. For glass jars pack them as compactly as you can and use a tight fitting lid to seal. We use our canning jars for this. Either way they can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark place in the kitchen cabinets or wherever you have room. They will keep well for about 1 year, after that the flavor, nutrition and flavor will begin to decline. You may keep them for about 18 months if you wrap them securely in plastic and store in the freezer.


To Oven Dry

The weather must cooperate for sun drying. If this is not the case in your area oven drying is your solution! It does require a bit more of a set up. Most ovens have the lowest temperature setting of 200 degrees. Using uniform tomatoes sizes will simplify your results. Preheat oven to 200F or the lowest setting on a gas oven. Prepare your tomatoes as previously stated. Omit the cheesecloth and place them on cake racks or a perforated pizza pan as above. Put your pans directly on the oven racks. Alternately you could cover the oven racks with aluminum foil into which you will need to punch small holes for air circulation. Bake in a closed, preheated oven at 200º F for 6 to 12 hours until shriveled and dry. Do keep checking on them and remove ones that are done.

* For Cherry tomatoes cut in half, prepare as above always putting the cut side down on your racks. Cut the drying time to 3-4 hours.


Dehydrator Drying

Obviously you have to spend some money to get a dehydrator but many think it gives dried food a superior quality. There are many units available that won't set you back a lot. It all depends on what you want. They can have timers and thermostats or you can use a thermometer which you place on the lowest tray to monitor temperature. You want it to ideally stay around 135° to 140°F. You do all the prep as already stated and the trays should have a space of 1-2 inches between them. You still may need to rotate the racks and, in this case, turn the tomatoes.


Rehydrating Dried Tomatoes

You can rehydrate your dried tomatoes in different ways. For basic use you soak them in water for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature as needed- this should be long enough to fully rehydrate them. Boiling water will speed up the process. For longer soaking times be sure to stick them in the refrigerator.

* They can be added directly to soups and stews. Adding them during the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking is usually sufficient.
* Try soaking them in bullion or vegetable stock.
* Be inventive and try rehydrating them with wine!
* Use the liquid from soaking in your recipes like a vegetable stock.
* Pour a mixture of one half vinegar and one half boiling water over them and let them soak for five to ten minutes. Drain thoroughly then mix with a good olive oil seasoned with a few pieces of garlic sliced clove and marjoram leaves. Let them marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator before using. Very good in salads and pasta dishes!


Tomato Flakes and Powders

If your tomatoes come out too dry try or you want to make them into flakes and powders dry them beyond the leathery or pliable stage.

* To give them a crumbly texture put them into your freezer for about 5 minutes and then crush them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet or give them a quick whirl in the blender.
* To get flakes dry them until quite brittle and crush with a rolling pin.
* For powders process them until very fine in a food processor or blender.


Dried Tomato Paste for the adventurous soul...

For this you need to wash, core and seed the tomatoes, peeling them if you want.. Crush them with a mallet or your hands and cook the tomatoes for 60 minute. Let it cool a bit then put it in the blender or food processor to puree them. Now return the tomato mixture to the pot to simmering it over low heat, stirring occasionally until it's reduced by half. This may take as long as 3 or more hours. When it is reduced let it cool a bit and spread your puree ½ inch thick onto cookie sheets. Place in slow oven to dry (approx. 140F) or the sun or dehydrator until it is no longer sticky but pliable like a fruit leather. Roll your dried tomato paste into 1 inch balls and let them dry at room temperature for another one or two days. Store in airtight jars. You can add the tomato paste balls directly to soups, sauces, casseroles etc.
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Old January 28, 2006   #2
Glenn 50
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Default Dehydrator.

Bought Sunbeam dehydrator the other day. Was told on a food forum to buy one with a thermostat and a fan so did that.
So far 9 jars of dried tomatoes have been put away.
All sizes all shapes have been dried. Can see why folks go for paste as far as processing goes. If I get carried away with this I will plant a higher percentage of them next season.
Disappointed that the Lime Green Salad toms lose their "Greenness" when dried.
I hate wasting tomatoes so this will be great.
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Old January 28, 2006   #3
Glenn 50
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Default I should read first.

OK I see that I put the above in the canning forum. Sheer brilliance!
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Old January 28, 2006   #4
Mischka
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We play it loose and breezy here, this forum is fine...and I know there's a way to move threads to other forums; just haven't quite figured it out LOL

I'd like to know, what color, exactly did the Lime Green Salad turn to after you dehydrated them?


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Old January 29, 2006   #5
Glenn 50
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Default dehydrator

Degenerated to a grey/brown. Taste was there but not the colour.
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Old January 29, 2006   #6
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Hmmm....do you have access to Fruit Fresh in NZ? It's an ascorbic acid based product that's used to stop oxidation on cut fruits and vegetables; not sure if it will work. The color might just change because of the concentration of tissue when it is dehydrated.

Perhaps a few drops of red food coloring mixed into some light extra-virgin olive oil might disguise them a tad, if the color is unappetizing?

I eat dried plums a lot more now, since the industry has stopped packaging them as prunes :wink:

- M
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Old January 29, 2006   #7
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Default Drying

Thankyou for all the information on drying of tomatoes. I plan to grow a drying tomato this year and hope to dry it. Of course now I may try to dry some other varieties too. My dehydrators are cheap ones with out a thremostat. Over in canning he said he use canning jars to store them. I have qt jars that would be good. Too big for me to can really in anymore. Sealed in jars they could go in the root cellar.
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Old January 30, 2006   #8
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Hi folks
Tried the recipe in the link below yesterday and they are wonderful. Full of taste. I and a lot of the recipe reviewers extended the drying time to two hours.

http://www.recipezaar.com/14681
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Old February 6, 2006   #9
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Production willing, I hope to dry some tomatoes this fall too.
Great posts, thanks so much.
I am hoping to use Borgo Cellano as my drying tomato, but will be fun to try others too.

Jeanne
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Old March 5, 2006   #10
Earl
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Glenn,
Cherry types are good dried too. Don't cut them all the way through and lay them on their backs. I like to sprinkle some sort of seasoned salt on mine. As a snack they release your favorite spices as you chew. I didn't do any last year, but need to do some this year.
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Old July 11, 2006   #11
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Default Best dehydrator

Last year I borrowed a friend's round Ronco dehydrator and it worked but I had to watch over it quite a lot and even though it came with a number of trays, if there were more than 3 used, they needed to be shifted around frequently so that the ones farthest from the heat didn't rot before they dried.

Is the Excalibur brand/style any better does anyone know?
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Old July 12, 2006   #12
David52
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I have a 13 tray (I think) Excaliber, and I like it. Somewhere a few years back on a forum somewhere, there was a lengthy discussion on the merits of various kinds of dryers, and the general consensus was that the Excaliber worked well.

I would suggest, if you are purchasing one, to look into buying a few of the mats for making fruit leather. We use them all the time, and apricot leather is just around the corner.
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Old August 4, 2006   #13
BrokenAppleTree
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Default Greenhouse and Drying

Hi All,
I was outside yesterday looking at my empty greenhouse. It's empty because it gets incredibly hot in there during the summer. I had an idea that maybe I could use it to sun-dry some tomatoes. What does everyone think about that? Would I need a fan inside to circulate the air some? Please let me know your thoughts.

Best Regards,
Brian
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Old August 4, 2006   #14
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Brian-I not only dry tomatoes there, but also different herbs-also, I do my fermenting of seed there-it really speeds things up.
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Old August 4, 2006   #15
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MDVP,
List of questions for ya,
What do you put the tomatoes on? Do you run a fan or anything? How long does it take to dry 'em? Do you just cut them in half?

Thanks,
Brian
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