Drying Tomatoes

Alice and I both like fresh tomatoes on our salads and on our sandwiches. And thanks to the greenhouse, we can grow a lot of tomatoes. The problem with this lovely fruit is it doesn’t keep like potatoes or onions do. One technique we’ve developed over the years is to dehydrate our vine ripened fresh tomatoes when we have too many to eat, and then crush them onto our salads throughout the rest of the year. It is an acquired taste and consistency, but our dried tomatoes always stack up favorably to the off-season tomatoes we buy in the produce section of our grocery store.

We’ve had several people ask us about our technique for drying tomatoes, so we took some pictures during the last batch we did, and here they are:

We start with vine ripened tomatoes that don't have too many bad spots.  We make sure they are clean.

We start with vine ripened tomatoes that don’t have too many bad spots. We make sure they are clean.

The ends and any bad spots are cut out and discarded.  We are pretty ruthless at this step, because a little bad tomato can mess up the flavor.

The ends and any bad spots are cut out and discarded. We are pretty ruthless at this step, because a little bad tomato can mess up the flavor.

Next the tomatoes are dropped in boiling water for a minute or so.  This makes the skin peel off easily.

Next the tomatoes are dropped in boiling water for a minute or so. This makes the skin peel off easily.

The skinned tomatoes next go to the slicing station, where they are made into sections around 1/4" thick.  These sections are put onto the dehydrator rack.

The skinned tomatoes next go to the slicing station, where they are made into sections around 1/4″ thick. These sections are put onto the dehydrator rack.

Rather than putting the tomato slices directly on the racks as we did for the first few years, we put them instead on these flexible inserts.  They make removing the dried tomatoes WAY easier.  Before we bought these, we had to chisel the tomatoes off the racks.

Rather than putting the tomato slices directly on the racks as we did for the first few years, we put them instead on these flexible inserts. They make removing the dried tomatoes WAY easier. Before we bought these, we had to chisel the tomatoes off the racks.

I try to put as many tomato slices as I can per rack.  They'll shrink quite a bit during the drying phase.

I try to put as many tomato slices as I can per rack. They’ll shrink quite a bit during the drying phase.

Once the last tray is full, I put the lid on the dehydrator, adjust the temperature, plug it in and let the batch slowly dry for about 24 hours.

Once the last tray is full, I put the lid on the dehydrator, adjust the temperature, plug it in and let the batch slowly dry for about 24 hours.

Once the batch is dry, I just peel the liner off the rack and dislodge the "tomato chips" by bending the tray liner.  These are put into glass jars and are covered up to avoid damage to the dried fruit from too much light.

Once the batch is dry, I just peel the liner off the rack and dislodge the “tomato chips” by bending the tray liner. These are put into glass jars and are covered up to avoid damage to the dried fruit from too much light.

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