WHAT TO DO WITH LOTS OF TOMATOES – my tomato shares are coming soon

If you haven’t seen what I did last year with my two (surprise) shares, please check out the post from 9/2/07:
https://prettysmartrawfoodideas.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/buried-in-tomatoes/

I’m readier this year. I actually paid for two shares this time, on purpose.

Here is my information, based on judicious research as well as my experience and final action last year.

HOW TO MAKE SUN DRIED TOMATOES FROM FRESH TOMATOES

SELECT TOMATOES

  • The best tomatoes for dehydrating are Roma tomatoes (small oval-ish tomatoes). Romas are thicker, meatier, have fewer sides, and are less watery than other kinds of tomatoes.
  • Avoid mushy, soft, bruised, and rotten tomatoes.


TO PREPARE FOR DEHYDRATING

  • Remove any bruises or soft parts, as well as cores/stem parts (usually yellowish or greenish).
  • Halve or quarter tomatoes lengthwise, or thickly slice horizontally.   (Although dehydrated tomato pieces normally shrink to 1/4 of the original size, keep in mind that, the larger the pieces, the longer it will take to finish dehydrating them.)

DEHYDRATING

  • Place tomato slices evenly on dehydrator trays as close as possible without touching (remember that the end-product will be 1/4 the original size).  If desired, sprinkle with salt or herbs of choice.
  • Set dehydrator for 140 degrees for 1 hr.
  • After one hour, reduce temperature to 125 or 115 degrees (depending on which guru you believe — I do mine at 125 degrees)
  • Dehydrate until done – regardless of the kind of dehydrator you use (I recommend the Excalibur — mine is a 5-tray model which lets me easily check the progress of whatever I am dehydrating, and is easy to and fast to load and unload), this will depend on where you are and what kind of humidity there is.
  • When the tomatoes are properly dehydrated, they will be flexible, or leathery, like raisins.  They should be deep red in color, and not be tacky to the touch.
  • Cool the dehydrated tomatoes to room temperature (20 or 30 mins.), then place in zipper bags, leaving some small space for expansion.  Squeeze out as much air as possible when closing the bags.  (A vacuum sealer is ideal, and will prevent spoilage and retain flavor best, but judicious squeezing out of the air will do.)  Make sure any storage containers are completely airtight, as dehydrated tomatoes readily absorb moisture, and can quickly become moldy.
  • Store bagged dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer or in a cool, dry place.
  • Frozen dehydrated tomatoes will last for  9 – 12 mos.
  • Check packs of dehydrated tomatoes frequently for signs of moisture condensation for a week or so. At the first sign of moisture, put the tomatoes into the dehydrator and re-dry them


PACKING IN OILS
If you want dried tomatoes in oil, it is advisable to wait until just before you are ready to use them, and then refrigerate them only for a short time.
Place dried tomatoes in a jar with a good seal/top, leaving about 1 in. of space at the top, for expansion.  Pour in extra virgin olive oil to cover tomatoes and fill jar.  Check after 8 hours or so to see if you need to add more olive oil.

VARIATION:
If you wish to add herbs to oil-packed dried tomatoes, “layer” them in as you add the tomatoes, then add the oil.

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3 responses to “WHAT TO DO WITH LOTS OF TOMATOES – my tomato shares are coming soon

  1. I am in for a massive crop of tomatoes this year, too, and I’m thrilled for your suggestions. I dehydrated some last year and tried adding some spices, but they were disasters, all brown and burnt looking.

    I’m eager to try again and your tips will definitely help. Thanks!

    Have you done anything with Jerusalem Artichokes? I just moved and there are a ton of them at the new house. A friend said that they looked like they had been there for a few years because the stalks were so tall. I’ll have to ask the former owners, but I’m eager to find some good raw recipes for them if they are still good.

  2. Last year, I dehydrated my tomatoes forever (I hoped they would get crunchy, but they never did– now I know that leathery but not tacky is the way they come out)
    I stored my dehydrated tomatoes in ziploc plastic bags on top of the refrigerator — I know, I know… everyone says put them in the freezer, but… hey! I used them all winter and spring, and I still have some left (which is scary, since I just found out today, that my 40 lbs for this year will arrive next week). I think what I am going to do now is take the slices and put them in olive oil, and then just hurry up and use the flakes I made by food-processing the last tomatoes and dehydrating the “sauce”.

  3. Ooooh, that sounds so wonderful.

    I used to store mine in plastic bags, but it just didn’t last well. They got condensation in the bags and lost their “luster” so to speak.

    I now store them all in jars. I can stuff them in really well and it keeps them dry longer.

    I can’t wait to get started. Thanks for the kick in the butt.

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