Tomatoes are in season right now. Of course, all year round you can buy plenty of tomatoes in the supermarket. But in the summer, the quality of the vegetable is at its highest. Whether in the garden at home or at the weekly market – the sun-ripened tomatoes of summer should not be missed. But just as quickly as the tomato season arrived, it’s over again when fall arrives. That’s why it’s a good idea to dry your tomatoes to use throughout the year. Discover how to dry tomatoes below!
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What varieties of tomatoes can be dried?
All varieties of tomatoes can be dried. This includes the small cherry tomatoes you grow in your garden, date tomatoes and beef tomatoes from the supermarket, and even canned tomatoes! They are all suitable.
What are dried tomatoes?
Dried tomatoes are those that have generally lost 80-90% of their original weight through the drying process. They lose most of their water, but retain their sugar, sweetness and nutrients. What remains is the delicious dried tomato flesh with an absolutely incredible and intense concentrated tomato flavor. They are perfect for dishes in which you want the wonderful tomato flavor to stand out.
This dried vegetable can be used in a variety of dishes and can also be jazzed up by placing them in olive oil, which opens up more uses in the kitchen.
How to dry tomatoes
Drying tomatoes in the sun
Drying tomatoes in the sun has been practiced for centuries. No matter what variety you choose, it’s best to choose tomatoes that are uniform in size so they dry at the same rate.
Simply cut the vegetables in half, place them on a raised grid, sprinkle lightly with salt and place in the hot sun to dry. Depending on weather conditions, this can take anywhere from four days to two weeks. Cover the tomatoes with a cheesecloth that does not touch them to prevent bugs from entering and to ensure good ventilation. You also need to store the vegetables overnight so that the evening dew does not ruin the drying process.
Drying tomatoes in a dehydrator
Drying in a dehydrator is incredibly easy. Before you start preparing your vegetables, make sure your work surfaces, utensils, and hands are clean and sanitized. Whether you have organic tomatoes or not, you should wash them. Since tomatoes have thin skin and don’t scrub well, it’s best to soak them in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution for a few minutes. To dry, the tomatoes must be cut into pieces. Most cherry tomatoes can be cut in half, larger varieties should be quartered or sliced.
- If you are using a baking sheet with large holes, line it with baking paper or, better yet, a grid cut to the size of the sheet. Leave space between the pieces to allow air to circulate.
- Place the tomatoes skin side down if possible (for example, cherry tomatoes cut in half). The vegetable contains sugary juices that can cause it to stick to the skin as it dries. Therefore, if possible, place it with the skin down and the cut side up.
- Dry the tomatoes at 50 ºC for about 8 – 14 hours until they are dry and leathery.
- Depending on your equipment, you may need to rotate the trays occasionally to ensure even drying.
Drying tomatoes – using an oven
- Preheat the oven to 100 ºC. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Cut the tomatoes in half.
- Place them cut side up on the baking sheet and sprinkle very lightly with sea salt.
- Bake for 2 1/2 hours, pressing down on the vegetables with a spatula – this will allow the juices to escape. Bake it for at least 2 more hours after that, until dry.
How to store dried tomatoes?
Place the completely cooled dried tomatoes in an airtight bag or container and store them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for a few months (depending on how much moisture is left in the vegetable), or in the freezer, where they will keep even longer. If you store the vegetables in the refrigerator, do not keep them in the drawer, as they need to be kept dry and in an environment as free of moisture as possible. Check tomatoes regularly for signs of mold and discard them if you see any.
Prepare different dishes
To prepare a dish with your dried tomatoes, soak them in boiling water for 10 – 15 minutes until they become soft and pliable. However, the vegetable can also be added naturally to many dishes. You have many options:
- Pasta salads
- Salad dressings
- Pesto with dried tomatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Caprese salad (in addition to fresh tomatoes)