Tomato Skins in a Food Dryer

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: dry fruit, food dryer, food drying
saved tomato skins for the food dryerThe skins from a peck of tomatoes covered three trays in my American Harvest food dryer, but I overlapped pieces liberally.

Here’s a way to use a food dryer that raises eyebrows wherever I mention it: Dry tomato skins. I got the idea in a Facebook group about home preserving; one of the participants said that when she cans tomatoes she saves the skins and dehydrates them to use later in soups and sauces. I was canning a lot of tomatoes, so I decided to try it.

Unusual Food Drying

I saved skins from about a quarter of a bushel of tomatoes as I prepared them for canning, diced, in pint jars. When I set the skins on dehydrator trays, I intended not to overlap them, but given how thin they are, I decided they’d be fine even if some stuck together.

I dried the skins at 130F degrees overnight and by afternoon the next day (I didn’t bother to check until then), the skins were dry and brittle.

What to do with dry, brittle tomato skins? I scraped them off the food dryer’s trays into the pitcher of my blender, and pressed them down so they cracked and settled around the blender’s blade. Then I put the lid on the blender and ran it until the tomato skins were powder. Finally, I dumped the powder into a storage container and snapped on the lid.

Using Powdered Tomato Skins

powdered tomato skins from a food dryerThe skins from a half peck of tomatoes dried and pureed into powder only partially fill a small storage container. Will you use tomato powder as seasoning or as soup base?

The skins from a peck of tomatoes aren’t going to stretch far, but if you can a bushel or two of fruit, you’ll build up a compelling store of tomato powder. You might discover that tomato powder makes a great seasoning to set out with your salt and pepper shakers. For more conventional applications, try these proportions.

To make…

…tomato paste, mix one measure of tomato powder with one measure of water.

…tomato sauce, mix one measure of tomato powder with three measures of water.

…tomato juice, mix on measure of tomato powder with one measure of water, and one measure of cream.


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Dehydrate Tomatoes in a Food Dryer

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: Uncategorized
Tomatoes ripe for the Food Dryer

It’s great to have a food dryer during peak produce season… and better still to have one as the season draws to a close. I had canned many gallons of tomato sauce, salsa, and diced and halved tomatoes, and found myself with several dozen small tomatoes that weren’t destined for a cook pot. Then a friend on Twitter made a comment about drying tomatoes.

If you haven’t dried tomatoes yet, please try it as soon as you can. I dried two dozen tomatoes, watched some friends devour them, and dried another two dozen for myself (I have a very small food dryer).

When you eat a dried tomato, it starts out tough and chewy. However, as it softens, the flavor intensifies, and it explodes into a burst of concentrated tomato sweetness. They’re curiously sensational.

Prepare Tomatoes for your Food Dryer

Captions under the photographs explain the steps I took to prepare my tomatoes for the food dryer. Please give this a try and let me know what you think.


Oiling Tomatoes for the Food Dryer

Wash the tomatoes, slice them in half at the equator, and remove the seeds. I removed seeds by gently pressing my pinky finger into each seed pocket thereby squeezing out the seeds and gel into a bowl. Then I filled my food dryer trays with seedless tomato halves, cut-side-up. Finally, I brushed the tomatoes liberally with olive oil.

Note that this was the first time I’d dried tomatoes, and leaving them on a wire rack proved to be a mistake. If such a rack is your only option, cover it with aluminum foil and use the point of a knife to punch a dozen or so slits in the foil.


Seasoning Tomatoes for the Food Dryer

Sprinkle the oily tomatoes lightly with salt, pepper, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.


Tomatoes Ready for the Food Dryer

Slice or chop fresh basil, and add some to each tomato. I had several varieties of basil in my garden, so I used one variety on some tomatoes, and another variety on others.


Tomatoes in the Food Dryer

Set the tomatoes in your food dryer and let them go for 12 to 24 hours. Alternatively, put them in your oven and bake them very slowly—from 180F degrees to 200. They’re done when they’re shriveled and dry (though they’ll be oily, so it’ll be hard to test one without eating it.


Tomatoes from a Food Dryer

The finished tomatoes look like any dried fruit, albeit with seasonings dried in. They’ll keep for several weeks at room-temperature, but eat them before the olive oil on them turns rancid. I’ve heard that some people freeze them, but that seems pointless since you’ve already dried them, and that should preserve them long enough.

Here are some web sites with ideas for how you might use the dehydrated tomatoes you make in your home food dryer. Wherever you see the words “sun dried” in the recipes, substitute an equal portion of your own dried tomatoes:

  • Dairy Max Recipe of the Week: Three Cheese Veggie and Beef Calzone – 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained 6 slices (6 ounces) deli roast beef 3 slices Provolone cheese 1/2 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat shredded Mozzarella cheese 1 (4-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained …

  • mio recipe of the week: slow burn sliders! – ½ c. ready to eat sun dried tomatoes, diced ½ c. unsalted or lightly salted cashews, coarsely chopped ½ c. diced red onion (if onion is strong reduce to 1/3 c.) 1 stalk celery, diced ½ c. garden club mayonnaise (where available) …

  • Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad « Let’s Get Cookin’! – At my grocery store, I’ve only found the sun dried tomatoes in a plastic container in the produce section. But you may find them in a jar, packed in oil. If you buy the jarred kind, be sure to drain them well before proceeding. …

  • 2009 May Free Online Recipes Free Recipes – This is one of the best Asian Shrimp dishes I have made in awhile. Szechuan shrimp may indeed even be better than my Szechuan chicken recipe ! A few Chinese shrimp recipes I have tried have been rather disappointing but this was really a hit. Best of all, it calls for precooked shrimp so there is little to no work needed.

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