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WHAT TO DO WITH LOTS OF TOMATOES - my tomato shares are coming soon

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:38pm

If you haven’t seen what I did last year with my two (surprise) shares, please check out the post from 9/2/07:
http://prettysmartrawfoodideas.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/buried-in-tomatoes/

I’m readier this year. I actually paid for two shares this time, on purpose.

Here is my information, based on judicious research as well as my experience and final action last year.

HOW TO MAKE SUN DRIED TOMATOES FROM FRESH TOMATOES

SELECT TOMATOES

  • The best tomatoes for dehydrating are Roma tomatoes (small oval-ish tomatoes). Romas are thicker, meatier, have fewer sides, and are less watery than other kinds of tomatoes.
  • Avoid mushy, soft, bruised, and rotten tomatoes.


TO PREPARE FOR DEHYDRATING

  • Remove any bruises or soft parts, as well as cores/stem parts (usually yellowish or greenish).
  • Halve or quarter tomatoes lengthwise, or thickly slice horizontally. (Although dehydrated tomato pieces normally shrink to 1/4 of the original size, keep in mind that, the larger the pieces, the longer it will take to finish dehydrating them.)

DEHYDRATING

  • Place tomato slices evenly on dehydrator trays as close as possible without touching (remember that the end-product will be 1/4 the original size). If desired, sprinkle with salt or herbs of choice.
  • Set dehydrator for 140 degrees for 1 hr.
  • After one hour, reduce temperature to 125 or 115 degrees (depending on which guru you believe — I do mine at 125 degrees)
  • Dehydrate until done – regardless of the kind of dehydrator you use (I recommend the Excalibur — mine is a 5-tray model which lets me easily check the progress of whatever I am dehydrating, and is easy to and fast to load and unload), this will depend on where you are and what kind of humidity there is.
  • When the tomatoes are properly dehydrated, they will be flexible, or leathery, like raisins. They should be deep red in color, and not be tacky to the touch.
  • Cool the dehydrated tomatoes to room temperature (20 or 30 mins.), then place in zipper bags, leaving some small space for expansion. Squeeze out as much air as possible when closing the bags. (A vacuum sealer is ideal, and will prevent spoilage and retain flavor best, but judicious squeezing out of the air will do.) Make sure any storage containers are completely airtight, as dehydrated tomatoes readily absorb moisture, and can quickly become moldy.
  • Store bagged dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer or in a cool, dry place.
  • Frozen dehydrated tomatoes will last for 9 - 12 mos.
  • Check packs of dehydrated tomatoes frequently for signs of moisture condensation for a week or so. At the first sign of moisture, put the tomatoes into the dehydrator and re-dry them


PACKING IN OILS
If you want dried tomatoes in oil, it is advisable to wait until just before you are ready to use them, and then refrigerate them only for a short time.
Place dried tomatoes in a jar with a good seal/top, leaving about 1 in. of space at the top, for expansion. Pour in extra virgin olive oil to cover tomatoes and fill jar. Check after 8 hours or so to see if you need to add more olive oil.

VARIATION:
If you wish to add herbs to oil-packed dried tomatoes, “layer” them in as you add the tomatoes, then add the oil.

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