How drying preserves food
Bacteria and microorganisms need moisture to grow in the food. Some microorganisms spoil food while others can make us sick. Drying food removes moisture from the food so microorganisms can’t grow. Drying creates a hard outer-layer, helping to stop microorganisms from entering the food. Drying extends the shelf life of food by slowing down natural enzymes that make our food soft, mushy and yucky!
Drying concentrates the flavor adding richness to recipes. Dried tomatoes are a quick snack and excellent on pizza or bruschetta or added to pasta sauces.
Selecting tomatoes and drying method
Plum, oval or pear-shaped Italian, Roma or paste tomatoes are best for drying.
A food dehydrator is the best options for drying tomatoes. Sun or air drying is not a viable option for Minnesota’s high summer humidity levels. Oven drying tomatoes can be done but may take up to 40 hours to dry so it not recommended.
How to dry tomatoes in a food dehydrator
Step 1: Choose firm, ripe tomatoes
Store tomatoes waiting to be dried at room temperature. The tart acid flavor is lost if tomatoes are refrigerated.
Step 2: Wash tomatoes under running water
The temperature of the water should be at least 10 degrees warmer than the tomatoes. Scrub with a clean hands or a soft cloth.
Step 3: Prepare tomatoes for drying
You can dry without or without the skin. To remove the skin, steam or dip in boiling water for 30 seconds. Chill in ice water then peel. Remove the center stem and core. Slice plum tomatoes in ¼ to ½ thick slices or halve or quarter. Place tomatoes on trays cut side up, leaving ½ inch space between tomatoes.
Step 4: Dry in a dehydrator
Dry in a dehydrator set at 140 F. Place tomatoes on drying trays cut-side-up. Dry for 10 to 18 hours. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Step 5: Test for dryness
They should easily bend in half and not break or stick when folded. Remove dried tomatoes from dehydrator. Continue to dry tomatoes that are sticky or moist. Turn tomatoes and rotate racks.
Step 6: Store in bags
Store dry tomatoes in air-tight freezer bags. Store in a cool (60 F), dark place or freeze. Be sure to press out the air of the bags. For best quality, use within 6 to 9 months.
Step 7: Eat and enjoy
Rehydrating is not necessary. Add dried tomatoes directly to sauces, soups, pizza or your favorite recipe.
- University of Florida. Sun-dried tomatoes.
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Harrison, J. A. and Andress, E. L., Preserving Food: Drying Fruits and Vegetables.
- Photo source: Suzanne Driessen
Reviewed in 2021