Dehydrate Tomatoes from Your Garden!

Preserving fresh foods can be so simple and satisfying. Learning to dehydrate tomatoes from your own garden is so easy and there's a plethora of uses for them! 

Not only is it easy, but there are several ways to dehydrate your tomatoes. Whether using a food dehydrator, an oven, or laying them out in the sun to make sundried tomatoes, the results are delicious! Here's how to do it, and some ways to use them.

Dried Tomatoes Are Super Easy to Make in a Dehydrator

Heavily laden with their fruitful bounty, tomato plants offer their delicious produce. Kitchens are filled with the sweet aromas of salsas, tomato sauces, homemade ketchup, and more... And still sometimes we wonder what to do with all the tomatoes! If you've never dehydrated tomatoes before, why not try something new!

Well, let's jump right into it! Go out to the garden and pick yourself a big bowl of nice sun ripened tomatoes. Back in the kitchen, give them a gentle rinse off. Then slice them evenly to your desired thickness. I like to cut mine about 1/4 inch thick or so. 

I find that using a handy kitchen tool like the one pictured here cuts them to a nice thickness and saves me a lot of slicing. When you've finished slicing your tomatoes and have them laid neatly on your dehydrator racks, you can add a sprinkling of sea salt which can help to draw out the juices. 

Also, some fresh, diced herbs like basil, oregano, or thyme leaves are wonderful scattered on top adding new dimensions of creativity to the outcome of your dehydrated tomatoes. 

A friend, Aleesha, chose to use a pre-packaged salad dressing mix (pictured here). Depending on what you'd like to do with them, combination of savory seasonings such as these can enhance the wonderful natural flavors of the tomatoes.

You certainly could just leave the tomatoes naturally as they are and dehydrate them that way. 

Now just load up your food dehydrator and turn it on to the suggested dehydration temperature which is usually between 125°F/52°C and 135°F/58°C. All you need now is patience, because this may take up to 12 hours or more, depending on your desired outcome. 

It's not a quick process to dehydrate tomatoes and the length of time can be altered by variables such as thicker slices, humid weather, etc. But in time, your kitchen will begin to smell quite yummy! And if you can't resist, go ahead and sample your own dehydrated tomatoes!  

When they've finished drying, put them in an airtight container, ziplock bag, or in a canning jar for storage. We also have other suggestions for finishing them below that you might like to try as well. So read on...

And there you are, easy as pie! ...Mmmm! How about Flaky Spinach, Feta & Sundried Tomato Pie!

You Don't Have a Food Dehydrator?
You Can Also Dehydrate Tomatoes in Your Oven!

If you plan to dehydrate tomatoes in the oven, prep the tomatoes in the same way as described above for a food dehydrator. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can either slice the tomatoes or cut them in half.  If you decide to halve them, arrange the tomatoes halves on the baking sheet with the cut sides up. Then sprinkle lightly with salt and herbs if you'd like. 

When oven drying tomatoes, it's important remember the same principle that you use when cooking a nice roast: 'low and slow'. Set the oven to the lowest heat setting, 150°F if it goes that low. The lowest setting on my oven is 'warm' which is at 170°F. 

If you have a convection oven, that works great too. The warm air blowing in the oven helps to dehydrate tomatoes. 

You can dehydrate tomatoes either sliced or halved, but halved tomatoes will definitely take longer. Plum or Roma tomatoes work best for oven-drying because even though they're a bit more bland, the flesh of these types of tomatoes are more sturdier and uniform in size. Little cherry tomatoes cut in half also work well. Use the tomato type of your choice. 

Oven dehydration times will vary. Some of the variables are the thickness of your tomato pieces, the oven temp, and the measure of humidity in the weather.  

The way you plan on using your dehydrated tomatoes will determine how dry you want them to be. If you're planning on packing them in oil, you'll probably want to dry them until they're still a bit chewy. If you're planning on making tomato powder, for example, they'd need to be crispy dried or it will be difficult to make the powder and it will clump and need to be stored in the freezer. Also, since tomatoes have a high sugar content, you'll need to be careful not to char the edges in the process of oven drying them. 

When your tomatoes are dehydrated to your liking, you can store them in an airtight container, canning jar, packed in oil, or powdered... Be creative and have fun! They'll be wonderful to enjoy in the winter when snow has covered your garden! 

Similarly, You Can Make Yummy Oven Roasted Tomatoes

And while you're at it, how about making some delicious oven roasted tomatoes. Roasting tomatoes is just a bit different than drying them, but it's an easy process.

You can take a couple pounds of Roma or Plum tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Place the tomato halves on a baking sheet with the cut side facing upward.

Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and give them a sprinkling of sea salt and some fresh herbs like oregano, cut basil or some leaves of thyme or dill, depending on the flavor you prefer. If you don't have fresh herbs, dry herbs would work as well. And while you're at it, you could even sprinkle a dusting of Parmesan cheese on the tomatoes as well. 

If roasting, the oven needs to be warmer than when you dehydrate tomatoes.  Set your oven to 225 - 275°F (depending on your oven) and roast the tomatoes about 4 hours, give or take, until they're slightly dry but still juicy. 

If you'd like, drizzle your oven roasted tomatoes with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with added fresh herbs. Make the roasted at least a day before you plan to serve them so that the flavors blend nicely together. Take them out of the fridge in time to serve at room temperature or warm them before serving. 

You'll not be able to resist eating some of these right away! Store any remaining tomatoes either in the fridge or freezer. If you plan on keeping them in the fridge more than a few days, immerse them in olive oil with a few herbs if you like. Batches of oven roasted tomatoes can be easily frozen in an airtight container. The day before you want to use them, allow them to set out to thaw to room temperature. 

And Some People Dehydrate Tomatoes Using the Sun

Several conditions are necessary to make sundried tomatoes efficiently.  The weather needs to be hot and dry. To fully dry the tomatoes, consistent temperatures of at least 32°C (or 90ºF) are needed and low humidity (under 60%) are required. Many climates won't allow for this method, but you can still dehydrate tomatoes in a dehydrator or in an oven for great results.

Roma tomatoes are a favorite variety to use with this method as they are more fleshy, less juicy and have fewer seeds. But you can use the tomato type of your choice, including cherry varieties. The important thing if you are mixing types of tomatoes while drying is that the varieties that you choose should be of a uniform size so they dry at the same rate.

When your tomatoes are sliced up and ready to be sun-drenched, just as with the other methods, you can sprinkle them with sea salt and fresh, chopped herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme for lovely additional flavors.

Also, it's a good idea to lay a mesh over the drying tomatoes to protect them from birds and insects. It can take a few days or longer - depends on weather, thickness of tomato, water content, etc. - to dehydrate tomatoes using this method, but the outcome is delicious! You know that your sundried tomatoes have completed dehydration when the texture no longer feels tacky and they're a bit shriveled like a plump raisin.

Reconstituting Your Dehydrated Tomatoes

You can use dehydrated tomatoes as healthy, delicious snacks just the way they are. But for many other uses, they will need to be reconstituted. 

To do this you simply let them soak in warm water for half an hour until they're soft and pliable. When you drain the tomatoes, save water to flavor soups, broths or other recipes. 

You can use dehydrated tomatoes as healthy, delicious snacks just the way they are. But for many other uses, they will need to be reconstituted. 

To do this you simply let them soak in warm water for half an hour until they're soft and pliable. When you drain the tomatoes, save water to flavor soups, broths or other recipes. 

Dehydrated tomatoes can also be reconstituted in olive or another kind of oil. Fill a jar with the dried tomatoes, cover them with oil and refrigerate for 24 hours and then enjoy!

For flavors that create a party in your mouth, try using your favorite wine to reconstitute the dried tomatoes! Or you can use broths or other liquids of your choice as well. My friend, Karen, suggests adding dehydrated tomatoes to the soup pot if you're making bone broth! Or you can add them to an artisan pizza with all those fresh flavors. Perfect with a nice glass your favorite wine. 

When reconstituted, it's important to use them within several days or pack them in olive oil and keep them in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Your Tomatoes Have Dried... Now What?

We have no doubt that you'll love the outcome when you dehydrate your tomatoes using any of these methods!  

When your tomatoes have dried you can now do a few different things with them! You can leave them as they are and store them in air tight bag and store them in the freezer or in the fridge for up to a year. These can be used just as they are as healthy snacks, added to a lovely pasta sauce, or pieces fold into the dough of your homemade bread. They also give a veggie platter an extra pop of flavor and color.  

Oil-Packed Dehydrated Tomatoes

Another delicious way of using your dehydrated tomatoes is to oil-pack them! Place the dried tomatoes in a sterile canning jar then add fresh extra virgin olive oil. You can also add herbs, sea salt, and other ingredients of your choice. There are a variety of recipes for making this Italian favorite, pomodori secchi  sott'olio. Here's one for you.

Tomato Powder

And have you ever tried making tomato powder out of your dehydrated tomatoes? It's easy and fun to do!

When the tomatoes are as close to crispy as you can get them, place them in a blender and give it a whirl!

This makes a lovely powder that you can use to flavor all sorts of tasty dishes! You can reconstitute it to make a tomato paste, add to salad dressings, and more!

If you have a hankering for a good old-fashioned bowl of tomato soup, this tomato powder just may be the best base that you can find for that! Try stirring a couple of tablespoons of tomato powder into one cup of boiling water. Add a pinch of garlic powder or onion powder if you'd like, either or both, and season with salt and pepper to taste! Add a wee bit of cream, and oh, you've made a yummy bowl of soup!

Have you ever dehydrated tomatoes? If you do it differently, we'd love to hear how you dehydrate tomatoes, what you make with them and how you serve them! Let us know in the form below, and please share your pix! It's fun to learn from one another!

We'd Love to Hear How You Preserve Your Garden's Bounty

Do you preserve your fresh fruits and veggies from your garden for winter use? If so, we'd love to hear what you do and how you do it! Let us know in the form below, and please share your pix! It's fun to learn from one another!

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