More Green For Less Green

Living more eco-friendly for less money


“Sun-Dried” Tomatoes

I love free—not only free stuff but also free food. This summer, friends shared fresh grown herbs, blackberries, and cherry tomatoes with me. The herbs turned into wheat herb bread plus dried herbs to use later on. The berries were shared with our Bible study small group and gobbled up, and the tomatoes were dried and turned into mock "sun-dried" tomatoes—more accurately just called dehydrated tomatoes in my case. We bought the dehydrator for $5 at a church rummage sale several years ago, and have more than gotten our money out of it.

Cutting and placing the tomatoes.
I forgot to take a picture of the end product.

To dry the tomatoes, I removed the stems and washed them, and then I cut them into ¼ inch-ish slices. I decided to leave the skins on. The tomatoes were so small to begin with thta skinning them seemed like it would be a hassle and make my yield even smaller. I sprinkled half of the slices with the dried herbs (from aforementioned friend) and the other half I left plain. Then I turned on the dehydrator and let it run, and run, and run, and run. It took a long time. I didn't want the tomatoes to over-dry, so when we would be out of the house for hours we would turn off the dehydrator until we were home again to babysit them. I pulled the slices off individually as they got to the right texture—no more juiciness, but not crunchy, either. I used this recipe as my inspiration.

I packed half of the tomatoes in olive oil and put them in fridge. The other half I left without oil and popped them in the freezer to use later on. You could leave them at room temperature, but they will go rancid fairly quickly. To me, storing them at room temperature is not worth the risk of bacteria growing. The ones from the freezer (not in oil) are great for plucking out one at a time because they defrost at room temperature within minutes. So far, I have used them in stuffed chicken and as a salad topping and they are so yummy!

This is a great way to preserve tomatoes from the garden that will go bad before you can use them or to make sure you have seasonal, local tomatoes into the off-season. As for price, commercially sundried tomatoes are pricey! Homegrown dried tomatoes are infinitely cheaper than paying for them plus you eliminate the packaging and shipping environmental costs. I am so excited to grow tomatoes at the new house! I am not a raw tomato fan, but I look forward to making sauces and dried tomatoes.

Don't have a dehydrator? Here is info on literally sun-drying tomatoes plus a link to an oven-drying recipe. Obviously I disagree that only plum tomatoes should be used. I say, give it a try with whatever tomatoes you've got!

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