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What to do when the garden explodes: dehydrate

Updated on August 12, 2014
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from my mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Cherry tomatoes dry fast

Cut cherries in half. Place cut side up.
Cut cherries in half. Place cut side up. | Source

Saving and preserving tomatoes

Canning and freezing are the best known ways to preserve food. The lightest and most portable way of storing food is dehydrating. It is a space saving, quick and easy storage method.

Grandmother sun-dried fruit like peaches and plums. No refrigeration needed. Dehydrated meat is known as jerky.

When the great depression hit, it was the worst of all hard times. Some things in some places were already so bad, the depression just couldn't make things any worse than they already were. That era left my grandmother forever frugal and thrifty.

Once, when I was peeling peaches for a cobbler. She got upset to see how thick the peelings were. “You waste too much fruit,” she said. “There is lots of good eating still on those peelings.” She scooped up the peals and made a small batch of peach jelly with the fruit-laden peelings.

Tomato powder reminds me of my Grandmother. She never used it and probably never heard of it. But when I make it, I think it's such a frugal thing, grandmother would have liked the idea of tomato powder.

Concentrate the tomato flavor

Start with sweet cherry tomatoes and when they are dried, they will be sweet as candy.
Start with sweet cherry tomatoes and when they are dried, they will be sweet as candy. | Source

Long lasting, and very affordable

How to dry tomatoes - Wash, core, and slice, (de-seeding optional) cherry or paste tomatoes. Evenly spread out 1/4” thick slices. They can touch, but should not overlap. Dehydrate at 135°F until slices are dry, at least overnight.

Allow slices to cool completely and check again to make sure they are completely dry. They may be leathery or sometimes crisp. Once dried, tomatoes can be stored in an air tight container. Or, store dehydrated tomatoes in zip lock bags and freeze.

To rehydrate dried tomatoes - cover tomatoes with hot water. Or, just drop dried tomatoes into hot cooking liquid, like soup, chili, sauce or broth.

Paste tomatoes dry faster

Sliced ¼ inch thick and be consistent so tomatoes dry at the same time.
Sliced ¼ inch thick and be consistent so tomatoes dry at the same time. | Source

How to make tomato powder

Using a blender or coffee grinder, reduce the dried tomato slices to a powder. If grind is uneven, sift powder though a mesh sieve and regrind larger chunks. Store in an airtight glass container in a cool, dark place.

Another source of tomato powder - When processing tomatoes for canning the quickest way to remove the skins is to cut an x on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove tomatoes from the hot water when you see the skin of the tomato just begin to crack or peel away. Immediately plunge tomatoes in ice water.

The skins slide right off of the tomatoes with a little tug. Save those tomato skins, spreading them out on the food dehydrator trays. Turn the dehydrator on, set it for 140 degrees F.

When the tomato skins are dry and papery, process them into powder. Use a food processor or blender to turn dried tomato skins into tomato powder. Pour into a wire mesh strainer and shake powder through. Return to the processor any the larger tomato pieces that don't fall through the strainer.

What is tomato powder?

Tomato powder is pulverized, powdered dried tomatoes, kept in a cool, dry place and added to various dishes for an unmistakable rich tomato flavor without even having to open a can of tomatoes.

Uses: Tomato Powder can be used separately or in combination with soups, casseroles, pizzas, pastas and more. Also use tomato powder for thickening juices and soups. Add tomato powder to smoothies , Bloody Mary's or, tomato juice.

To rehydrate tomato powder: Blend 2 tablespoons tomato powder with ¼ cup hot water. Add more powder until the liquid is the desired consistency.

Read more about dehydrating cherry tomatoes: How to Dry Cherry and Pear tomatoes fast

Sun-dried or not

Give a gourmet gift of sun-dried tomatoes. Commercial sun-dried tomatoes are never dried by the sun.
Give a gourmet gift of sun-dried tomatoes. Commercial sun-dried tomatoes are never dried by the sun. | Source

One time expense, years of use

Other uses for your dehydrator

A dehydrator may seem a little pricey to us frugal gardeners. But this is an investment that will serve you for years to come.

Buy the best dehydrator you can afford. Or, make it your mission to find a used one at garage sales this spring.

Once you have a dehydrator more ideas will come to you. For example, I make venison jerky for my neighbor every fall, if she gets a deer during hunting season. I am done using the dehydrator for the garden by the time hunting season comes around.

She is happy to pay me to do it, and garden season is over, so I have the time.

Dry apple and orange slices to use in making decorative wreaths. Dry the flowers in a bouquet to make potpourri.


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