by Mireille Bourgeois
Here’s a quick post about food dehydration. I know I know, sundried tomatoes are SO nineties 😉 but I still like them in some dishes and in principle! I just planted my indoor seeds of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. I’m hoping that I’ll have about 8 tomato plants this year, and am even going to attempt a super sunny front-yard garden bed. I’m a little TOO much excited about this actually. In the meantime I bought a bunch of beautiful paste tomatoes on sale and decided to dehydrate them.
I recommend using the smaller paste tomatoes with less seeds so as to shorten the dehydrating time. Some people peel the tomatoes but I don’t. I instead washed my tomatoes very well and then cut them in four. Place the tomato quarters in the dehydrators seeds up. Put the lid on and just forget about it for a while… Mine’s in a dark corner…
Every dehydrator is different and because the machine can’t account for the climate where it will be used, it’s difficult to know how long it will take for your tomatoes to be dehydrated. My tomatoes cooked in the machine for about 2 days! A long time that I’ll try to shorten next time by increasing the temperature. My dehydrating book says tomatoes can take between 6 to 20 hours at 50-55 celsius (120-130 fahrenheit). The tomatoes are ready when you can’t feel any “wet” or moist spots, but the tomato still bends and twists without cracking.
Here’s my tip: check on the tomatoes every 4-6 hours and take out the slices as they are dry. Some maybe be ready before others and you don’t want them to be crispy tomato chips! Just pop them in a glass jar without a lid (it’s good to let them cool down a bit, you don’t want the condensation to set in.) Take it one step further and put some of your batch in a mason jar, and fill with olive oil. I’m keeping those in the fridge to add to sauces, pasta and pizza and the dried ones in my cupboard which I may use in breads and baked dishes.
The same process can be repeated for the cranberries, wash, cut in half, and dehydrate seeds up (Mine stuck to the grate because I put them seeds down…). If you’d like a sweeter taste that doesn’t make your lips pucker, feel free to toss them in a bit of sugar first. Cranberries can be dehydrated anywhere between 4 and 24 hours at 55-60 celsius (130-140 fahrenheit). Mine took about 24 hours but they were a bit crispy (I forgot them in over night. oops). You can throw these in cereal, oatmeal, baked good and crumbles.
If you don’t have a food dehydrator you can definitely use your oven, but it’ll cost you more in electricity! Just use the temperature listed above, and check on your food every 2 hours just to make sure everything goes smoothly. A good last tip is to try to find that sweet spot for each fruit or vegetable and write down the time so you’ll know next time!