Drying Tomatoes is Easy and Cheap

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Drying tomatoes is easy, economical, and a good way to save some of summer’s bounty if you’re running out of room in your freezer or on your pantry shelf. The idea is simple: remove water from the tomatoes to preserve them.

Advantages to drying tomatoes

  • Dried tomatoes take less storage space than other preserved tomatoes
  • Dried tomatoes are expensive in stores but cheap to process at home
  • Dried tomatoes add a gourmet touch to dishes
  • Dried tomatoes take no special equipment to produce (unless you choose to use a dehydrator)

Disadvantages to drying them

  • It takes longer to dry tomatoes than to freeze or can them
  • Dried tomatoes need to be reconstituted before using

What kind of tomatoes are best for drying?

Any kind of tomato can be dried, including cherry tomatoes. Best drying tomatoes are meaty, contain few seeds, and are small.

Roma tomatoes (also called Italian, paste, or plum tomatoes) are the hands-down favorite for drying because they have more flesh and less seeds than most other varieties. Beefsteak tomatoes work less well for drying because they have high amounts of gel around seeds.

Regardless of what variety you use, choose tomatoes that are firm, meaty, and of uniform size so they dry at the same rate. One special note: make sure tomatoes you select for drying are not bruised or just past ripeness.

Two secrets to successfully drying tomatoes

  1. Control the drying temperature. The optimum temperature range for drying tomatoes is 130º-140ºF. At lower temperatures (<90ºF), tomatoes will dry too slowly, allowing bacteria and mold to develop. At higher temperatures (>160ºF), tomatoes will harden on the outside but remain soft on the inside, promoting spoiling.
  2. Let the air circulate. Make sure tomatoes don’t touch when you dry them. Allow at least ½” in between them for even drying.

Ways to dry tomatoes

Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages.

How to prepare tomatoes for drying

  • Wash and dry tomatoes.
  • Remove skins (optional). With a knife, cut an X on the bottom of the tomato, just deep enough to penetrate the skin. Drop tomato into boiling water. Blanch for 20-30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove tomato from boiling water. Immerse tomato in ice water. Use knife to remove tomato core. Skin will slip off.
  • Core tomatoes (whether skinned or not). Remove tomato ends
  • Cut tomatoes. 

                 Roma tomatoes: cut in half
                 Cherry tomatoes: cut in half
                 Slicing tomatoes: cut into ¼” slices

  • Seed tomatoes (optional). With a spoon or your finger, scoop seeds from tomato, leaving pulp.
  • Follow directions for selected drying method: sun-dried tomatoes, oven dried tomatoes, dehydrated tomatoes, or microwaved dried tomatoes.

How tomatoes should look and feel when dried properly

Color: dark red
Texture: dry and leathery, but not brittle or tacky
Flexibility: bendable, like a raisin

More on preserving tomatoes 

Oven dried tomatoes: step-by-step directions to make your own ...

Dehydrating tomatoes in a dehydrator: the most reliable drying method

Food dehydrators explained ...

Making sun dried tomatoes: step-by-step directions ...

How to dry tomatoes in a microwave ...

How to rehydrate dried tomatoes ...

Storing dried tomatoes in the pantry, refrigerator, freezer ...

Drying tomatoes FAQs: answers to your questions ...

How to Store Sliced Tomatoes ...

Canning tomatoes: how to get started ...

Freezing tomatoes: the basics ...

Preserving tomatoes: should I can, dry, or freeze them?

Get more tips on our Drying Tomatoes Pinterest board...

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