Last time I went to the store for sun dried Tomatoes the cheapest I could find them for was $5 for a tiny little package. Since I needed two packages for what I was making, I decided to pass them up and not make what I originally had planned on. $10 for a single ingredient just seemed like way too much money just to add them to a meal. While I am sure I could have found them for less if I shopped around, we do not have a lot of grocery stores in our area and by the time I found the sun dried tomatoes I might as well have bought the expensive ones for the gas it would have cost me.
It was then I decided I was going to make my own sun dried tomatoes only using the dehydrator this summer. I don’t use them a lot, but they sure make a lot of things like hummus, bread and sausage taste wonderful no matter how you dry them.
I looked at a lot of different directions for sun dried tomatoes, but a lot of them were more work than I wanted to do. I don’t have a lot of time these days, so I need to take shortcuts where ever I can.
That said I did my tomatoes the easy way, but I can tell you they still have all the flavor and versatility that any sun dried tomato I have ever bought or tried before, so I am not unhappy with the results.
Sun Dried Tomatoes
You can use any type of tomato that you want for these, but I get the best flavor and results from cherry or paste tomatoes. Personally I have just used whatever type of tomato I happened to pick, and as long as you cut them the same thickness your results will be fine.
All you need to do to make these tomatoes, is to wash, core and remove any blemishes and then slice them to the thickness you want. Be sure your slices are at least a quarter inch thick, mine were closer to a half inch. It is important that you get the slices uniform in thickness so they will all dry at approximately the same rate.
I space my tomatoes on the trays of my dehydrator about an inch apart to allow for good air circulation.
I set the temp on my Excalibur dehydrator at 155 for tomatoes and it takes between 18 and 24 hours for them to dry completely. You will need to adjust the temperature for whatever dehydrator you happen to have.
When done you want your tomatoes to be completely dry but slightly leathery, don’t let them get brittle if you plan to use them like sun dried tomatoes.
A lot of people store their tomatoes in oil, but I store mine in food saver bags in the freezer. This way I can get the maximum life from my tomatoes and I do not have to worry about them going bad.
If you do not have a Food Saver I strongly recommend you get one, they are great for freezing dehydrated foods, and they will keep for a very long time that way. Because they are air tight and remove all the air, your tomatoes will stay dry and perfect for when you need them. The food saver is also great for saving seeds in the freezer and for storing herbs in as well.
I rehydrate my tomatoes a bit for use by soaking them in a bit of hot water then laying them on paper towels to drain. They are perfect for a wide range of uses, from putting on pizza and in bread, to mixing with sausage and dropping into casseroles and soups. They are super easy to use and add a huge burst of flavor to whatever you are cooking.