When it comes to harvesting fruit and veg, they all seem to come at once. Dehydrating some of your fruit and veg is a great way to preserve your produce and enjoy the flavours all year round.
If you grow tomatoes yourself you may know the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of tomatoes as they all ripen at pretty much the same time. Whilst it may not be to the level of having a tomato fight like they do at le Tomina festival in Buñol, you would like to make the most of them and not have to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the space of a few weeks.
Drying tomatoes in the form of using a dehydrator is a great way to preserve flavour. It produces a wonderfully concentrated sweet tomato flavour which you can add to soups, pizzas, stews, dips, sauces, meats, sandwiches, pasta, salads, or cheese and charcuterie boards. Traditionally tomatoes are dried in the sunlight but as is the classic British Weather, it simply isn't possible here in the UK, so using a dehydrator or oven is the next best thing as it allows you to control the temperature needed to achieve the perfect sun-dried tomatoes without any excess moisture. This recipe uses a food dehydrator which we sell a range of on our website made by the guys at Tre Spade.
The time taken to dry tomatoes varies due to size and water content but most tomatoes will dry in 10 to 20 hours at 60 degrees Celsius.
The beauty of a food dehydrator is that you have control over the temperature and that the machine maintains a constant airflow around the produce you are drying. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and even meat can be successfully preserved and stored away for the colder months of the year. Getting the right temperature is crucial to successfully drying your produce but generally speaking, if you follow the temperature guidance given on the produce you are drying, you can't go too far wrong. If the temperature is too high, the food will harden too quickly yet the inside will remain moist and be vulnerable to spoilage.
When it comes to dehydrating tomatoes it is the same process no matter how many you are doing at once or how much dehydrator space you have. That said be sure to leave enough room between the tomatoes so airflow can get around these red flavoursome delights.
Top Tips For Dehydrating Tomatoes
- Cut the tomatoes into uniform pieces for even drying. Whether that's halved or quartered, it's up to you.
- Gently press plump tomatoes with a spatula or your hand after 3 to 4 hours.
- Leave an inch or more between pieces to allow proper airflow.
- When dried properly, the tomatoes will look shrivelled and be hard and crunchy. They should not be sticky.
- Dry them at around 60 Degrees Celcius for best results.
1kg of Medium Tomatoes
4-6 tsp of fine salt.
Dried tomatoes in Oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Bay leaf
2 sprigs of rosemary
Extra Virgin Oil
1. Cut the tomatoes in half, and squeeze out the pulp and seeds. You don't have to be too specific with this but if you can get the bulk out that will be fine.
2. Lay on the trays of the dryer and sprinkle evenly with salt.
3. Leave to dry for 2 days at 68 degrees Celsius or 4 days at 40 degrees Celsius. Again this depends on the size of your tomatoes so be sure to keep checking them throughout the process.
4. Remove Tomatoes from the dehydrator and store them in jars.
Want to add even more flavour to your dried tomatoes?
1. Refresh the dried tomatoes by adding them to a pan of boiling water with 1/2 litre of vinegar. Boil away for 2 minutes.
2. Leave to cool. You can either leave the tomatoes as is or cut further into pieces. Place tomatoes into jars.
3. Now it is time to add the flavour. Add garlic and oregano with a little oil and press them into the jars.
4. Add a bay leaf and rosemary for extra flavour and cover completely in oil. Press down well to prevent air pockets from impeding preservation. Check the oil level over the first 2 to 3 days and add extra oil if necessary.
5. Press down the tomatoes using a small lattice cap to ensure they are completely covered in oil. Leave for at least 3 weeks before consuming to allow the flavours to marinate the tomatoes.
To Serve: Serve on a charcuterie board or with a homemade pork pie.