Drying tomatoes is not difficult but it does require some time and patience. You will need to start with a good quality ripe tomato (preferably one that was picked when the skin was still attached). You can use any kind of fruit except grapes, which are too watery for drying purposes.
The best way to dry tomatoes is to place them in a paper bag or plastic container with plenty of room around the edges. Place the paper bag/container inside a larger one so that air circulation helps keep your fruits from drying out. Keep the containers covered with a cloth until they are completely dry.
When all of your tomatoes have been dried, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks before eating.
If you do not want to wait for all of your tomatoes to dry, then you can purchase dehydrated tomatoes online. These dehydrated products come in different forms such as powder, tablets, liquids and even food bars. They are usually made from dehydrated vegetables like carrots or potatoes.
The downside is that these products tend to be expensive because they cost more than fresh produce.
If you plan on eating dried tomatoes right away then the quickest way to dry them is to use a food dehydrator. These appliances have four or five trays that elevate the food so air can flow underneath. Most models also have a built in fan that helps remove moisture from the food.
Dehydrators cost between $40 and $200, depending on the size and features. To save money, look for a slightly older model at your local thrift store.
The drying time will vary depending on the type and number of foods you are trying to dry. Plan on at least 6 to 12 hours for each tray, depending on the thickness of your food pieces. If you want to dry larger quantities, you can stack additional trays on top of the first one.
Keep in mind that the more trays you have in the dehydrator, the longer it will take to dehydrate your food.
As the food dries, it is important to “turn” it so the entire piece gets exposed to the heat and air flow from the fan. If you are drying more than one tray of food, rotate all of the trays at least every four hours. To rotate the trays, lift them up and gently slide them back and forth.
Never unplug your dehydrator when there is food inside because it could cause a fire hazard if food becomes lodged in an outlet.
Warnings: Dehydrating food does take time and a little effort, but the results are well worth it especially if you use an electric dehydrator. Once you’ve tried your hand at making beef jerky, fruit leather or dried apples you may find yourself making it a weekly ritual. Just make sure to store foods in air tight containers so they don’t absorb other odors in your cupboard.
And as with any food, never eat anything that has an unusual color, odor or appearance.
All fruits and vegetables contain glucose and fructose in their natural state, but some dehydrated foods are made by dipping pieces of food in solutions containing sulfites before they are dried. The sulfites prevent discoloration during drying and maintain the natural color of the foods. Sulfites have long been known to cause severe reactions in some people, and more recently, scientists have discovered that even a mild reaction to sulfites can trigger life-threatening reactions in some asthma sufferers.
If you or anyone in your family has asthma, talk to your doctor about sulfite reactions and tell him or her if you have been eating a lot of dried fruits and vegetables.
Canned foods are already cooked.
Excessive heat may change the texture and flavor of some foods.
Because the ingredients are packed in their own juices, there is a greater risk of foodborne illness.
Dietary supplements do not require approval by the FDA. Manufacturers are not required to prove their safety or effectiveness. The quality of dietary supplements may vary significantly.
Nutrition information on the label may not be accurate. Manufacturers have a legal right to make “standardized” labels, which means that so long as the product meets a certain standard, they can print a label with any information they choose.
Taking unnecessary amounts of certain vitamins can be harmful. For example, large doses of niacin can cause headaches and nausea. Always consult your physician before taking any dietary supplements.
Taking extra iron can qualify you to participate in clinical trials for anemia. Before doing this, discuss it with your health care provider since you will need to have regular blood tests to ensure you do not get too much iron.
You can choose from hundreds of different types of herbal medicines. Be sure to read the list of ingredients on the label and ask your pharmacist or physician if you have questions about an ingredient.
Always ask your doctor before taking a dietary supplement for weight loss. Some of these products may not be safe for everyone and some may react badly with prescription medications you are taking.
Sources & references used in this article:
Partial dehydration of cherry tomato at different temperature, and nutritional quality of the products by G Muratore, V Rizzo, F Licciardello, E Maccarone – Food Chemistry, 2008 – Elsevier
Tomatoes: safe methods to store, preserve, and enjoy by T Parnell, T Suslow, L Harris – 2004 – books.google.com
Influence of combined microwave‐vacuum drying on drying kinetics and quality of dried tomato slices by EE Abano, H Ma, W Qu – Journal of Food Quality, 2012 – Wiley Online Library
Food drying science and technology: microbiology, chemistry, applications by YH Hui – 2008 – books.google.com
Lycopene content and antioxidant activity of fresh and processed tomatoes and in vitro bioavailability of lycopene by S Karakaya, N Yılmaz – Journal of the Science of Food and …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library
A lexicon for texture and flavor characteristics of fresh and processed tomatoes by P Hongsoongnern… – Journal of Sensory …, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
Deficit irrigation based on drought tolerance and root signalling in potatoes and tomatoes by CR Jensen, A Battilani, F Plauborg, G Psarras… – Agricultural Water …, 2010 – Elsevier