The past week has brought two conflicting circumstances to my life: the start of cold weather (aka soup season) and way too many tomatoes. Time consuming canning seems to be the go-to plan for an abundance of tomatoes, but for the past several years I’ve taken to drying most of my tomatoes. Although there’s no substitute for canned tomatoes, I prefer drying for the sake of preserving nutrients (the high heat used in canning takes out most of the good stuff) as well as the limited time it takes. Best of all, dried tomatoes are perfect for soups and the sweet varieties (which I often grow) actually make delicious snacks! While having a dehydrator certainly makes this easier, you can easily dehydrate foods using your oven (or the sun during the hot months).
- Fresh tomatoes
- wire racks small enough to hold tomato slices and oven
- salt (optional)
- Slice tomatoes between ¼” and ½” thick. The thinner they are, the less time they will take to dry.
- Arrange on oven or dehydrator racks. Leave space around each slice for faster drying
- Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired, to help draw moisture out of the fruit.
- Set dehydrator to 150° or oven on lowest setting.
- Dehydrate for about 6 hours depending on humidity and thickness of slices. Some people like to prop their oven door open with a fork for drying at a slightly lower temperature.
- They’re done when they are completely dry and crispy. Allow to cool and store in baggies or jars.
- To use in soup, add to hot water and cook until soft. These can also be reconstituted by soaking, and may even be used for sauce. I’ve never tried it, though!
I make a lot of soup in the winter, and these dried tomatoes are a perfect addition! In theory, you could reconstitute them for a sauce as well. Though I’ve never tried this.
Do you keep dried tomatoes in your kitchen? How do you use them?
BONUS! Dehydrate your peppers in the same way. Way more flavorful than ground cayenne or black pepper. Be sure to wash your hands twice after cutting!