|Dried Heirlooms & Super Bushes|
Method from Excalibur and TomatoDirt
Tomatoes! Here in the Santa Cruz mountains, we still have them ripening like crazy in the garden. I’ve made baked tomato sauce and slow cooker tomato sauce, which I’ve frozen for a rainy (January) day. Bruce made raw tomato sauce and I experimented with baked tomatoes and even candied tomatoes. We’ve had herbed tomato soup, fresh tomatoes with basil and balsamic, chili spiced Romanesco cauliflower, turkey Hungarian goulash, squash with fresh tomato sauce, and more tomato/veggie/pasta dishes and salads than we can count. Freezer is filling up. What’s next? Dried tomatoes!
|All Varieties Can Be Dried|
|Preparing Heirlooms for Drying|
|All Varieties Dried|
There are two basic dehydrator styles. One is round and requires the user to stack up trays. The other is square with drawers that the user pulls out. The latter is more convenient to set up and to check while warm, but costlier. To me the investment in not lifting trays while checking each layer of tomatoes and removing dried ones was worth it. I went for an Excalibur dehydrator.
|During the Drying Process|
Drying time depends upon the tomato’s thickness and species. For me, watery yellow heirlooms and cherry tomatoes took the longest. Dry farmed Early Girls took the least amount of time, with Renee’s SuperBush tomatoes a close second. I understand that Romas also dry relatively quickly, especially if seeds are removed. Each variety has a characteristic flavor. Of the tomatoes I tried, Renee’s SuperBush had the most concentrated flavor. My understanding is that Romas are also excellent flavor-wise.
TomatoDirt.com is a great resource for further information about drying tomatoes, and everything else about gardening with tomatoes.
Wash and dry tomatoes. Spray top of dehydrator mesh tray liners with very light coat of nonstick spray if desired to minimize sticking. Line trays with mesh.
Remove the core from slicing tomatoes. Cut into ¼” or smaller slices. Cut cherry and grape tomatoes in half. Remove seeds and extra liquid from slices and halves if desired.
Place tomatoes on dehydrator trays. Leave ½” between slices for maximum air circulation. Put cherry and grape tomatoes on trays with skin side down.
Slide drawers into dehydrator or stack trays. Close lid and turn temperature to 135 degrees F.
Check after about 5-6 hours. Turn partially tomato slices over. Depending upon how close they are to dry, check every 1-2 hours, turning over slices that have stuck to the mesh again. Remove slices as they dry. When dry, tomatoes will be dry and leathery, not tacky. They will still be flexible.
Cool dried tomatoes completely. Store in air-tight container in a cool, dry place. Refrigeration is not necessary.