Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dehydrated Tomatoes

The summer of 2012 has been the driest one I can remember in a long time. Lack of rain has not prevented us from having SOME tomatoes; but it did prevent them from producing like they have in the past. (I can Roma tomatoes because they're much more meatier and less watery.) There is nothing better than using tomatoes you've personally canned in soups, stews and sauces!. Thus far, I've not been able to harvest enough tomatoes at one time to make more than a few jars. Hopefully the rain we got this week will turn that situation around.

Last year, my BFF Claudia, told me she dehydrated tomatoes and froze them. Hmmm....we have a dehydrator sitting unused until Andy gets ready to make deer jerky in the fall. Perfect! This was my first attempt, and I've since gone on and fixed two additional batches. Easy and DELICIOUS! Andy "tested" one of them as I was bagging them up and he called it "GARDEN CANDY!"
Tomorrow's batch needs a little more time in the sun! 

Wash your tomatoes and slice into 1/4" slices. Remove core.
Spray your trays with a light coating of cooking spray.
Lay the tomatoes out to fill up the tray. I was told they needed to be placed so they don't touch. After the first batch, I realized that didn't affect them at all. If they're properly dehydrated, you can literally scoop them up when they're done.

I sprinkled Lawry's Garlic Salt with Parsley Flakes on them. DELICIOUS! The room smelled like a pizzeria after a few hours!
We have a Nesco dehydrator and I set it to 135 degrees. The first time I had 4 minimally covered trays and 8 hours was sufficient. The second go-around I had six trays loaded up with slices. I had the timer (don't let me forget to tell you about that!) set for 8 hours. They weren't done quite enough after eight hours, so I set it for an additional 3 and they turned out perfect! I've fixed two batches this way and this seems to be the perfect combination. I highly recommend checking the time the first time until you know what timing will work with your equipment. If your slices aren't consistent, you may need to pull the thinner ones off a little early.
The timer. Since I have a pretty full day at my job, plus garden, blog and cook everyday, I'm always open to new ways to save time. Andy and I picked tomatoes and I already knew I wasn't setting my alarm clock for the middle of the night to turn these off. He came up with the brilliant idea to use one of the timers we use at Christmas for decorations. Perfect! Set it and forget it! I just bag the dehydrated tomatoes up before I go to work.
I plan on keeping some of these in ziplock freezer bags so I can pull what I need. After they're frozen, I plan to portion them out and vacuum seal for extended keeping.

I can't wait to fix my first tomato, spinach, onion and feta cheese pizza!! Yum-yum!

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