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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Drying Tomatoes

Years ago someone gave me a few slices of (store bought) sun dried tomatoes.  I instantly fell in love - until I saw the price - over $20 a pound.  For someone who can eat dried tomatoes like candy - well, that was going to be a pretty expensive habit!  Tomatoes are prolific here, and even when mine drown or get stepped on by large puppies, they are abundant at the weekly summer farmers market.  Turns out, I can make my own for pennies on the dollar.

While in theory one could solar dry tomatoes in The South, the amount of rain that we normally get here in Middle TN combined with this years exceptional rain production means that solar is not a practical solution - it's warm enough, but too humid.  Even so, I wasn't too keen on spending several hundred dollars on a large dehydrator - what if this dried tomato thing was just a passing craze?

After much research, I found an under $100 version that had both temperature control and an integrated timer.  Both being particularly useful if you will not always be home during drying time.  Turns out that I really like that it tells me what temperature to use right on the lid - I know evernote and google would tell me - but just having it there is pretty nice.

Not the best photos, but you get the idea.

So this batch started off as 3 pounds of Roma Tomatoes and a few slices from a tomato used for BLTs. Some of the tomatoes had a pretty dense core, so I cut the centers out of those.  But for ones that had softer cores, I just left them.  I hand sliced about 1/4 in thick - but some were thicker and some were thinner.  Being more consistent in slicing thickness probably would have improved the overall quality of the batch, but, well, even though some tomatoes got a little over done (turned black), they were still tasty.  No burn flavor at all.  And they were kinda crunchy instead of chewy.  

Some of the cored toms in the front and non-cored ones in the back.
Didn't think to take "before" photos.  This tray was edge to edge tomato rings with the tomatoes barely separated from each other.  They dried down to less than half size.  They will last nearly forever in the freezer. 

They will last nearly forever in the freezer.
My tomatoes have pretty much succumbed to Early Blight; however, it is only the beginning of tomato season at the Farmers Market!   And now, to go dry Serano hot peppers.  I dry the tomatoes in the house to capture that yummy tomatoes aroma.  I dry hot peppers outside so as not to burn my eyes from the "fumes!"

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