DEHYDRATED TOMATOES

Tomatoes are traditionally dried in the sun, however you can use your oven or a food dehydrator to control temperature and humidity (creating the perfect texture). Choose firm, ripe tomatoes for dehydrating – they can be dried as halves, quarters or slices. After taking the time to dry, they become deliciously chewy with a rich tomato flavour, making them perfect for snacks. Yum! 
   
METHOD:  
1. Before you begin: disconnect the dehydrator from the power point. Clean dehydrator racks and base in warm, mild soapy water. Rinse and dry each part thoroughly. Wipe lid and frames with a damp, soft sponge with a mild detergent. Do not use steel wool, scouring pads or abrasive cleaners. Always follow the dehydrator manual instructions. Ensure the dehydrator is unplugged before reassembling. Ensure hands, utensils and food preparation areas are clean before preparing food.
2. Wash tomatoes.
3.  Remove any discoloured/damaged tomatoes. Discard stems and leaves.
4. Slice tomatoes 5mm thick (a mandolin is helpful to create even slices, or cut them all thicker if desired, aim for all tomatoes to be even sizes so they dehydrate properly).
5. If using, add ascorbic acid to a bowl of water and submerge tomatoes in this water for 3-4 minutes to help preserve the tomato colour. 
6. Drain tomato slices and pat dry.
7. Place sliced tomatoes onto dehydrator trays, leaving a little space around each piece to allow air circulation.
8. Place dehydrator trays onto the base (or into the dehydrator frame), alternating the directions with each tier for round models and ensuring all racks/shelves are securely positioned.
9. Place the lid on the top drying rack (or close the door for square-shaped units).
10. Plug the power cord into a power outlet and set the dehydrator temperature to 55°C (130°F) and timer to 7-8 hours (depending on the tomato thickness and dehydrator model, this time may vary).
11. Rotate racks on round dehydrators every 3-4 hours to ensure all racks dry evenly.
12. Cool dehydrated tomatoes before placing into storage containers or bags.
13. Test tomatoes have dried properly by cutting a piece open. There should be no moisture visible inside. Dehydrated tomatoes may be pliable, crack or flake, depending on the thickness and time dehydrated.
14. Store dehydrated tomatoes in an airtight jar, container or vacuum sealer bag in the refrigerator or freezer.  Check for moisture forming on the container during the first week after drying – if moisture appears, food has not been dried for a long enough period and needs to be dehydrated further (or frozen). Dried food can also be covered in plastic wrap (or vacuum sealed) and stored in a freezer safe container.
15. Enjoy dehydrated tomatoes dry or rehydrate by soaking in olive oil or water (or adding to dishes during cooking). Consume rehydrated tomatoes within a few days (and store in the refrigerator to reduce spoilage). TIP: cold-smoked semi-dried tomatoes taste AMAZING! 
      
Author: Megan Radaich          
Image credit: Megan Radaich          
Publication: www.foodpreserving.org

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