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There are four options when you have a lot of tomatoes. You can eat them fresh, freeze them, bottle them, or dehydrate them. Here, we will discuss how to dehydrate tomatoes by a couple different methods, and then how to use your dehydrated tomatoes once you’ve done this.
Picking The Right Tomatoes And Preparing Them
First, you always want to start with ripe, firm tomatoes. I personally prefer to dehydrate the paste varieties, as they have more “meat” to them. In the past when I have dehydrated the large, plump tomatoes, most of the tomato dehydrates away and I’m not really left with much.
To find heirloom paste tomato seeds, look here for my favorite company.
Once you’ve got your tomatoes picked out, make sure to clean them very well, especially if you will not be taking the skins off. I do not remove the skins myself.
If you want to remove your skins, give your tomatoes a 30 second bath in boiling water, and then a 30 second bath in ice water, and remove them at this time.
I do not find it necessary to core my tomatoes, but some people prefer to.
At this point, slice your tomatoes as evenly as possible about ¼ inch in thickness. I don’t even remove the seeds.
You now have three options: dehydrate them in an oven, dehydrate them in your dehydrator, or make tomato chips.
How To Dehydrate Tomatoes In Your Oven
Without access to a dehydrator, place your tomatoes on a cookie sheet making sure they are evenly spaced apart. Now place them in the center rack of your oven and dry them at 145 degrees (F), and check on them often, removing them when they are crisp. This should be around 3 hours depending on how close to ¼ inch thick they are.
I have found that using this method, the tomatoes tend to stick to the cookie sheet and rip coming out.
How To Dry Tomatoes In A Food Dehydrator
This is my preferred technique, as my tomatoes tend to come out in perfect circles. I use an Excalibur dehydrator with a screen-type tray that allows for maximum drying and minimum surface-to-surface contact where the tomatoes could stick down.
Lay your tomatoes on your screens evenly spaced apart in only one layer. Unless you are using all 9 sheets, make sure your tomato sheets are also evenly spaced vertically.
Turn your dehydrator on to the vegetable setting (mine is 125 degrees) and let dry until crisp. I run mine about 5 hours. Let them completely cool before removing.
When cool enough to remove, simply pick the tray up and gently roll it from the bottom. Any parts that may have been tacked down will come loose, and you will be able to easily pick them up.
How To Make Tomato Chips
Prepare tomato chips the same way as you would your dried tomatoes for the dehydrator. When you’ve got them all laid out and ready to slide in, brush a little oil over them (I use olive or grape oil, whichever is closer). Gently season them with a little of your choice of Italian herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, etc.), and top with some shredded cheese.
In this picture, I used grape oil, oregano and cheese.
Run these in your dehydrator at 125 degrees for about 7 hours until crispy.
What Do You Do With Dried Tomatoes?
You can keep your dried tomatoes in a plastic container with a lid until you are ready to eat them as a snack.
Alternately, you could now put them in your food processor and make powder with them (which I highly suggest), and use this in soups, pastes, sauces, or as a seasoning.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite way to use dried tomatoes is.