Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DEHYDRATING: Tomatoes

Continuing on with "Tomato Week", we present another method of preserving your harvest! Dehydrating is probably the simplest way to preserve tomatoes. Dehydrated tomatoes are surprisingly versatile, too!

Preserving tomatoes through dehydration is extremely simple. They take up less storage space per pound, and are excellent for outdoorsmen who wish to make their own dry mix meals.



RAW TOMATOES:

Paste tomatoes are recommended, but any variety can be used. The juicier, the longer they will take to dehydrate. You may wish to use screen inserts for easier removal and clean up.
  1. Thoroughly wash tomatoes before processing. 
  2. Slice tomatoes 1/8" thick. Too thin, and they will be near impossible to remove from trays, too thick and they will not dehydrate evenly.
  3. Arrange slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays leaving a sliver of space between each slice to allow for air flow.
  4. Set dehydrator to 130 degrees for approximately 16-20 hours, depending on type of tomato.
  5. They are done when they feel dry to the touch, and just slightly pliable. It is imperative all moisture is removed, or they are liable to mold.
Dehydrated tomatoes can be stored in jars in a cool, dark, dry place. Recycled pickle jars are just fine. They may be stored for a longer period of time by adding a food safe Oxygen Absorber into the jar. Mylar bags or vacuum sealed packets will work as well.

To reconstitute dried tomatoes, simply submerge the slices in warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Use as you would fresh tomatoes in recipes. Not recommended for topping sandwiches and burgers.

TOMATO SAUCE:

Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce can also be dehydrated. In order to dehydrate sauce, you will need "Fruit Roll Sheets" or parchment paper.

  1. If you are dehydrating chunky spaghetti sauce, process in a blender until smooth.
  2. Place Fruit Roll Sheets or parchment paper into dehydrator trays.
  3. Spread a thin layer of sauce upon each sheet as evenly as possible. Roughly 1/16" thick.
  4. Set dehydrator to 130 degrees for about 10-12 hours. About halfway through, turn the tomato leathers over to facilitate even drying. When it is done, tomato leather should be dry to the touch, and a tad pliable. 
  5. When it is done, tomato leather should be dry to the touch, and a tad pliable (much like "Fruit Roll-Ups snacks"). Peel leathers from sheets and process in a blender until powdered. 
Dehydrated sauce is stored in the same manner as raw dehydrated tomatoes (see above).

To reconstitute sauce, pour 1/2 c. hot water over 3 Tbsp. powdered sauce. Use reconstituted tomato sauce as you would canned sauce in recipes. Tomato powder can also be used as-is in homemade soups and sauces.

If you're an outdoorsmen looking for recipes for DIY dry mix meals, there are 83 pages worth in "The Dehydrator Bible " by MacKenzie, Nutt and Mercer. Some examples include: various pancakes and oatmeals, soups, chili, pasta and rice dishes. 

We use the Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A. When purchasing a dehydrator, be sure it has an adjustable thermostat.