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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Dry Vegetables

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: dry vegetables, food drying

Dehydrate vegetables in a food dryer so you can store them to use during the winter.

Drying is undoubtedly the oldest food preservation method in use today. Consider that nature preserves fruits, vegetables, and grasses by drying. If you bother to watch, you can spot birds eating dried berries and deer foraging for dried grasses in the dead of winter.

There are advantages to dehydrating vegetables over other preservation methods. For example, dehydrated vegetables tend to shrink—some to one-fifth their original sizes. As well, vegetables lose weight as they dry so they’re easy to pack and store. Finally, dried vegetables can retain their nutritional value for twenty years or longer if you vacuum seal them and store them out of the light.

Prepare Veggies for the Food Dryer

Use produce that is dead ripe and fresh from the garden. Vegetables can lose 50% of some nutrients in the first 24 hours after harvest.

Blanching for your Food Dryer

Begin by filling a large stockpot with water and bringing it to a hard boil. Prepare a similarly large container (another stockpot or a washbasin) by filling it with cold water and floating ice in it.

Work in small batches—perhaps a quart of cut-up vegetables at a time—and plunge the vegetables into the boiling water. I like to put the veggies in a strainer and lower the strainer into the water so the veggies cook but can’t escape the strainer.

Cook the vegetables for half the time you would if your were about to serve them. For many vegetables, you’ll blanch for about three minutes, but it’s best to follow USDA guidelines you’ll find here: USDA Blanching Guidelines. Note that the USDA recommends you should fully-cook beets, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash rather than partially-cooking them as you do other vegetables.

Wash, pare, and cut up vegetables into the shapes that you’ll want them to have when you prepare them for a meal. Then blanch them.

Blanch? Blanching is the process of heating a vegetable to destroy enzymes. Those enzymes naturally break down the food, and they’ll continue to work even after you dry the food. Proper blanching significantly increases the storage life of the dried produce. The box titled, Blanching for your Food Dryer summarizes the procedure.

Dry the blanched vegetables. I wrap mine in a clean dish towel and gently shake it around to remove as much residual water as possible.

Dehydrate your Vegetables

Load your dehydrator’s trays only one layer deep with the prepared vegetable pieces. It’s OK if the veggies touch their neighbors, but don’t let them overlap.

If your food dryer has a temperature control knob, set it to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Dehydrate the vegetables until they are completely dry. Stems and leaves should be brittle and break cleanly while chunks (cut up carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables) should be hard like blocks of wood.

It will take at least four hours to dry vegetables, but in most cases you’ll wait 8, 12, or more hours. When the vegetables are dry, turn off the food dryer and let them cool to room temperature before you package them. Use airtight containers. Better still, vacuum pack the vegetables. Then, store them away from light at room temperature.

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