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Tomatoes!

January 31, 2016

Have you ever found yourself with a ton of extra tomatoes from your garden? After all, you just thought you’d plant a few extra tomato plants just in case one of them didn’t put out as many fruits as you thought you wanted.

So, what happens when ALL the plants become prolific tomato-making machines? You may not feel like it, but trust me, it’s a wonderful problem to have!

There’s so much you can do with extra tomatoes, and yummy home-made marinara comes to mind right off-hand. Another thing that comes to mind is to dehydrate them; you know, like sun-dried tomatoes. Those things are expensive at the store, especially if you are an individual/family on a budget. That’s why making your own sun-dried tomatoes is so wonderful.

You don’t have to own a fancy type of dehydrator with the fan underneath. Even the old kind of dehydrators with the basic heating element at the bottom works great, if you rotate your trays. Besides, you might find some really neat “tomato art” in the process!

So how do you start…

Get all your tomatoes together, yes even the green ones, and wash them well to remove all dirt. Set them aside and get ready to start.

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The sugars in the tomatoes concentrate during dehydration, and turn out sweeter than when they’re raw. This happens even to the green tomatoes! They all turn out with various levels of sweetness when dehydrated so don’t discard the green ones, instead happily bring them along too… it’ll be very tasty! Promise!

Next, set your clean dehydrator trays on the counter top next to your cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice your tomatoes to no less than an eighth of an inch thick, and no more than a quarter-inch thick.

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If you slice them thinner than that, you won’t be able to pick them off the trays. They will be very thin and break into pieces when you try to grab them. On the other hand, if you slice them thicker than that,  it will take longer than a day to dehydrate them.

Preparing and slicing the tomatoes is the part that takes a while, so hang in there, and enjoy yourself in the process. Besides, for some reason, tomatoes have their own way of keeping you entertained. Check these out!

Cool isn’t it?

The smiley faces were definitely the most common shape, though I found little horseshoes, and even little fairy faces like the one on the top left of the three slices together. Tomato art is pretty cool!

As you slice each tomato, arrange them on the dehydrator trays leaving very little space between each slice. They will shrink as they dehydrate and will make their own space between each other. Then turn on your dehydrator, and follow the directions for your machine. That’s it!

I used a very basic dehydrator with five trays and a simple heating coil in the bottom. It’s the type that you turn on by plugging it in. I can’t change the temperature, nor does it have a fan either. It took the tomatoes an entire day to dehydrate completely, with one instance of rotating trays. Once they’re done, I put them in a clean/dry glass jar with a well-fitting lid. So, if all you have is a basic dehydrator like the one I used… enjoy it because it’ll still work great!

There’s so many uses for these dehydrated tomatoes! You can add them to a soup, process them with chickpeas to make a humus, use for salad garnish, or soften them in extra virgin olive oil to chop and add to other dishes, like pasta. So many uses! It does take some time and effort to get all your tomatoes grown, harvested, prepped and dehydrated, but you will be so glad you did as you enjoy your very own ‘sun-dried tomatoes’ throughout the year!

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