Glory be, it’s tomato season!
It was such a long winter this year, and then spring and summer have been so cool and rainy – I was really starting to feel as though the days of eating warm tomatoes right off the vine in the garden would never come. Kind of like Narnia, you know? Always winter and never Christmas.
But thank goodness, proper summer weather is finally here. And with it, baskets and boxes full of beautiful heirloom tomatoes.
Truth be told, I actually still have a whole shelf full of tomato sauce from last year. So this year, I’m focusing my tomato preservation efforts on two things I never have enough of: ketchup, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Ok, I know. If I dry them in a dehydrator they’re not really sun-dried tomatoes. But doesn’t it sound like a taste of summer when we call them that? I’m going with it.
For the last couple of days, I’ve had my dear workhorse of a dehydrator going almost non-stop, working my way through several boxes of ripe tomatoes. I have to admit – the kids and I love them in their “sun-dried” form so much, I let us eat up the entire first batch before any even made it to my pantry shelves!
Thankfully – we’ve got lots of tomatoes, and these are super-easy to make! Here’s how you do it:
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes in a Dehydrator
Take off the stem, and remove any hard core from around it.
For cherry tomatoes, just cut them in half and lay cut-side up.
For larger tomatoes, cut in even slices, about 1/4 thick. It’s going to seem really thick the first time you make these, but trust me – as they dry they get much, much thinner, and it’s a lot easier to remove them from the trays if they’re not too thin.
Lay the slices on the trays of your dehydrator. It’s totally ok if the edges touch.
Set the dehydrator to 135 degrees, and then check in on them every few hours. When the edges start to really curl up, and the cut surfaces no longer look shiny (like in the photo above), I like to flip them over. I find that turning them while they’re still a bit pliable makes it much easier to remove them from the trays. I also think it makes for more even drying.
They’re done when they’re dry to the touch, and feel like rough old leather. Tasty description, I know. But I really think it’s a pretty accurate way to describe how they should feel when they’re done.
Allow them to fully cool to room temperature before packaging them up. I find that there are always little hands very eager to assist me with removing them from the trays!
I like to store these in quart jars right on the canning shelves in our basement, and they last very well for several months this way.
For even longer-term storage, I pack them into pint-sized vacuum bags, and vacuum seal them. I’ve opened some that I’ve stored this way, and found that even 18 months later, they still tasted like they’d come out of the dehydrator yesterday.
This year, I’ll definitely be making more of these than ever before. Until having two active little cutie-pies running around, I had NO IDEA the sheer volume of healthy snacks a household can go through! This winter, these will be one of our go-to “snicky-snacks”, as the kids say. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
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