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3.2.5 Dehydrating Sundried Tomato


This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker ericnospam@getcomputing.com with numerous contributions by others.

3.2.5 Dehydrating Sundried Tomato

(A very frequently asked question)

(from an unknown source, posted in either rec.food.cooking or rec.food
preserving) (pre-1996)

First, a few notes. It takes about 7 pounds of fresh tomatoes to make
a single pint of dried tomatoes (I am not sure how much a pint of dried
tomatoes weighs. A pint of water weighs 1 pound.). This is part of the
reason they are so expensive (costing in the neighbourhood of $20/pound
around here). The best tomato to use in this process is the Roma (also
known as a plum, pear, or Italian) tomato, because it contains less
water and seeds. However, you can use any tomato. They will just take a
little longer to dry.

Dried Tomatoes (yields about 1 pint)

Wash carefully and wipe dry:
7 or 8 pounds of firm, ripe (preferably Roma) tomatoes.
Cut out the stem and scar and the hard portion of core lying under it.
Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise. If the tomato is more than about
2 inches long, cut it in quarters. Scrape out all of the seeds that you
can without removing the pulp. Arrange the tomatoes, with the cut surface
up, on non-stick cookie sheets (glass or porcelain dishes are OK. They will
have to withstand temperatures of a few hundred degrees F if you are going
to oven-dry the tomatoes). Do *not* use aluminum foil, or bare aluminum
cookie sheets. The acid in the tomatoes will react with the metal.

Mix together thoroughly:

1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt.
Sprinkle a small amount of this mixture on each tomato. (You may
customize this mixture to suit your own taste.)
Dry the tomatoes in the oven, dehydrator, or in the sun. Directions
follow for each of these methods. However, no matter what method you
choose, be aware that not all of the tomatoes will dry at the same
rate. They do not all have the same amount of moisture, nor do they
experience the same temperature and air circulation while they are

They are done when they are very dry, but still pliable. Texture is about
that of a dried apricot. If dried too long, they become tough and
leathery. If not dried long enough, they will mold and mildew, unless
packed in oil. So watch them carefully while they dry. Try to remove
them on an individual basis, before they become tough. Here are the
drying methods. There is a time listed with each method.

This time is approximate, and can vary significantly depending on the
moisture of the tomato. Do *not* rely on this time as more than a rough

Oven-drying (approximately 12 hours):
Bake, cut side up, in 170 F oven for about 3 hours. Leave the oven
door propped open about 3 inches to allow moisture to escape. After 3
hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with your hand or a
spatula. Continue to dry, turning the tomatoes every few hours, and
gently pressing flatter and flatter, until tomatoes are dry.

Dehydrator method (approximately 8 hours):

Place the tomatoes, cut side up, directly onto the dehydrator trays.
Set dehydrator temperature to about 140 F. After 4 or 5 hours, turn
the tomatoes over and press flat with your hand or a spatula. After a
few hours, turn the tomatoes again and flatten gently. Continue drying
until done.

Sun-drying (approximately 3 days):

Dry in hot weather, with relatively low humidity.
Place tomatoes, cut side down, in shallow wood-framed trays with nylon
netting for the bottom of the trays. Cover trays with protective
netting (or cheesecloth). Place in direct sun, raised from the ground
on blocks or anything else that allows air to circulate under the
trays. Turn the tomatoes over after about 1 1/2 days, to expose the
cut side to the sun. Place the trays in a sheltered spot after
sundown, or if the weather turns bad.
After the tomatoes are dry, store in air-tight containers, or pack in

To pack in oil:

Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off the
excess vinegar and pack them in olive oil. Make sure they are
completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly
and store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using.
They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature
however). As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as
necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. The author notes that
she has stored oil-packed tomatoes in her pantry for over a year with
tremendous success. She also notes that she has tried a number of
methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but she says the vinegar treatment
is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is
also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil
and discourages growth of bacteria and mold.

****** WARNING ********

Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS
you store them in the refrigerator. Garlic is a low-acid food which,
when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just
perfect growth medium for botulinum bacteria if the mixture is not
refrigerated. Botulism poisoning is characterized by a very high
mortality rate. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as
part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil.


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