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