Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dried Tomatoes

Sun dried tomatoes in just about anything are popular around here.  But let me tell you I am no fan of sun drying them.  Been there, tried that.  They do attract flies, and suffice it to say, the experience prompted us to purchase a food dehydrator.  It runs on electricity, and it takes up space, but it has earned its keep over the years.

In past years we have dried tomatoes to the point where they can be stored simply in a jar on a shelf.  But the texture of tomatoes at that stage of dryness is crispy, and not that appealing.  So we dry them to a state of chewiness, then pack them into the freezer.

The tomatoes we grow for drying are called "Principe Borgese." They are a small tomato, with a low water content and thick flesh.  We also grow two types of "cherry" tomatoes, and dry any extras of those we have on hand, once the dryer is going.  They turn out somewhat tougher, being mostly skin and seeds once the water is gone. 

The drying process is simple: cut the tomatoes in half, and line them up skin side down on the drier racks.  (If you put them on with the cut side down, they stick to the mesh and make it hard to clean up.)
Then they go into the dryer at the "fruit" setting, 135 degrees, for about two days.  We don't leave the dehydrator going overnight or when we leave home, so the timing varies.

The food dehydrator is a somewhat insulated box with a heating element and a fan to circulate the air. 
One convenient feature is that the door is attached magnetically, and comes right off for loading.

But, as I mentioned earlier, we bag up the dried tomatoes and put them in the freezer, so the degree of dryness is not really critical.  The ones you see here are still soft, but are dry enough that, when you go to use them, you can shake out just the amount you need. Their flavor is unbelievable!

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