The end of the summer is the time for tons of tomato production, and preservation becomes necessary. There are many ways to preserve tomatoes, but dehydrating is definitely my favorite because it is simple and dried tomatoes taste great in soups, on top of winter salads, or even plain as chips.
1. Choose a high acid tomato. Most heirlooms are high acid. Low acid tomatoes will turn black when dehydrated. Ideally your tomatoes are fresh, dark red, with meaty walls.
2. If you wish to remove the skins, boil the tomatoes for a minute then put them in an ice bath. The skins should come off easily after that. This step is a pain, so I don’t bother with it. I will cut the top and bottom of the tomato and feed those parts to the chickens. This gets rid of a lot of the skin
3. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and cut large tomatoes in ¼ inch slices.
4. Spray your dehydrator trays with olive oil cooking spray. This will stop the tomatoes from sticking.
5. This is optional, but I like to add some basil and sea salt before putting the tomatoes in the dehydrator. This gives them a nice flavor if you want to eat them as chips.
6. Dry at 155 degrees for 7-9 hours until brittle. I have found that it takes me around 11 hours to get my tomatoes completely dry. I may be cutting my tomatoes a little thick.
7. Place tomatoes in an air tight container with an oxygen absorber. I use food grade paint cans with oxygen absorbers, or my vacuum packer for storage.
~ Phil Williams
Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant and designer and creator of the website foodproduction101.com. His website provides useful, timely information for the experienced or beginning gardener, landscaper, or permaculturalist. Phil's personal goals are to build soil, restore and regenerate degraded landscapes, grow and raise an abundance of healthy food of great variety, design and install resilient permaculture gardens in the most efficient manner possible, and teach others along the way.