Although we don’t have a need for a big vegetable garden with the kids all grown and gone, I still find myself planting carrots and cucumbers and spinach in my flower beds. We like garden veggies even though those we get at the grocery store are almost as good.
EXCEPT for tomatoes. There is just no comparing a flavorless, hard grocery store tomato to a sun ripened juicy ripe beauty still warm from the summer sun.
The problem becomes what to do with the extras which accumulate after we’ve eaten our fill and given a bunch away. I’ve canned them, juiced them, frozen them and sauced them and have always decided—more trouble than it’s worth.
Then DH decided to try putting them in our food dehydrator. Although it took quite a while to dry the juice out, they had a concentrated flavor and color very much like the super expensive sun dried tomatoes in gourmet cooking. Plus they kept for months and months just tossed in a zip-lock bag ready to break up and sprinkle in spaghetti or pizza sauce or just eat like chips.
Now I needed to grow more tomatoes. So this spring I ripped out a few yards of lawn and added room for five more tomato plants.
I have to put the baby plants in little wall-o-water greenhouses until the middle of June to keep them safe from frost.
Barring some kind of weird weather we should have lots and lots of tomatoes in a few months to eat fresh and dry for later.
There are plenty of places on the internet with info on how to dry tomatoes.
Cut out the stem and scar and the hard portion of core lying under it. Slice the tomato into quarter inch horizontal slices.
Arrange the pieces on each rack of a food dehydrator so that air can circulate, preferably with the pieces not touching each other. Sprinkle the tomatoes with sea salt, kosher salt and/or some spices like basil if you prefer.
Turn the dehydrator on and let it run for eight to ten hours. Turn the slices over about half way through the process. If your food drier has a thermostat, set it for 140 degrees F.
The amount of time it takes depends on the water content of the tomatoes, the thickness of the slices, and how well the air is able to circulate around them. When done, the tomatoes should be flexible, not brittle. The pieces will be leathery with a deep red color, without feeling sticky.
Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature then put them in zip-lock bags. Don't overfill the bags. Squeeze out the extra air. Store the bags in a very cool, dry place.