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Dehydrating Tomatoes

We have several tomato plants growing here at 27th Street and they’re doing very well. We love homegrown tomatoes and we’ve been keeping up with them, but the last few days they’ve started ripening faster than we can consume them. Tuffy P suggested we dry some.

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We have an electric dehydrator, which I bought many years ago for those seasons when we gather more wild mushrooms than we can eat. Mushrooms can sometimes be feast of famine and when they are fruiting well, it’s possible to gather quite a lot. That hasn’t happened this year – it hasn’t been a great season for mushrooms around our area.

I pulled the dehydrator out of the basement and washed the plastic layers in preparation for a test. I sliced up enough ripe tomatoes to fill two layers of the dehydrator and it’s doing its thing now. I have no idea how long it will take to dry them. Time will tell.

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The dehydrator provides a constant circulation of warm air which slowly dries whatever you put in it. If we like the results from this test, I may dry a larger batch. I’ll also look at other ways of preserving our tomatoes too – possibly freezing some or canning them or making sauce.

We have 2 or 3 varieties of hot chilies growing in the yard as well and they are just starting to ripen. When we get overwhelmed with them, I’ll likely dry a batch of these too. In the past I’ve dehydrated chilies, then used a coffee grinder to grind them into a coarse powder to use as a condiment or for cooking. This year I may keep them intact rather than ground. If I get really ambitious, I might smoke some on the bbq before dehydrating.

Here’s a nice cover of Guy Clark’s Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Venable…

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