This year has been a banner year for tomatoes on the high plains and front range due much in part to the warm weather. If you are finding yourself with a surplus of tomatoes either from the garden, the store or farmers’ markets, you can consider a variety of methods for storing them. Among the options are canning, freezing and drying. By far the most simple is to dry your tomatoes. It is hard to believe that something so juicy can be dehydrated, but it can.
First you must either purchase a food dehydrator or you can construct one. The best dehydrators have a thermostat and timer and are well worth looking into. Then be sure your tomatoes are ripe. Wash the tomatoes well with warm water. Then slice each tomato to a width of around 1⁄3 of an inch or slightly wider. Place them on the dehydrator trays. Check your dehydrator manual for timing and temperature settings. Usually, after a couple of days your tomatoes are ready to store. They can store for many years in a sealed package and can easily be used in any tomato sauces, re-hydrated by steaming for a few minutes and placed on pizzas or used as any recipe might call for dried tomatoes (or “sun-dried tomatoes”). By the way, there is no difference in taste or quality between regular dehydrated tomatoes and solar dehydrated tomatoes.
By drying your tomatoes you actually concentrate the great flavor of a summer-ripe tomato, in fact many say that the dehydrated tomato once re-hydrated– tastes better that most ripe tomatoes and way better than store-bought.