Drying Tomatoes

I have more tomatoes than I can handle right now! I planted two plants each of Pantano Romanesco, a big red beautiful heirloom, and Golden Sunray, also an heirloom. I got all of these seeds from Baker Creek Heriloom Seeds this past winter and I am very pleased!  Then I also have the volunteer tomato plant that my sister, Machell, gave me last spring.  I am not sure what it’s called, but it is a little bigger than a golf ball, red and really tasty!  I can’t can any tomatoes or juice or sauce right now because I don’t have any jars – yet.  I have been dragging my feet because every time I go to buy them I am shocked at the price!  But, buy them I must – next week.

In the meantime, I decided to dehydrate a batch, a la Mother Earth News Magazine (MEN). In this month’s MEN (August/September 2013) I found an article on an easy way to dry tomatoes (page 33), so I decided to try it before all of my tomatoes went to mush.  I hate mushy tomatoes!

An over-abundance of tomatoes

I quartered the tomatoes and placed them skin side down on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Easy enough.  I even took a little time to scrape some of the jelly out of the nooks and crannies, thinking that would help them dry faster.  In the article, MEN says to sprinkle with salt.  I did not.  I’m trying my best to stay away from as much salt as possible.   The article also says you can sprinkle with olive oil and/or fresh herbs.  I abandoned this idea also simply because I wanted to try the drying procedure first.  If it works out, I have a lot of basil and some great olive oil I will drizzle on the next batch.quartering tomatoes

Then I placed the tomatoes in the oven at 250 for one hour, just as the article says to. After that, I cooled the temperature down to 170 degrees – the coolest setting possible in my oven – and left the tomatoes there for 3 hours.  After 3 hours they weren’t dried to my satisfaction, so the next day I went ahead and placed them on cooling racks out in the sun for several hours.  Does that mean I can call my tomatoes “sun dried”?   😉    Anyway, that did the trick!  one batch of quartered tomatoes ready for the oven

Once the tomatoes were a bit leathery but still very pliable, I put them in a mason canning jar (one of the few that I DO have) and slipped that into the freezer. A jar of "sun dried tomatoes" for the freezer

Easy Peazy!  Now I have sundried tomatoes ready for chicken and bacon pizza, soup, salads, pasta, just about anything!  I am going to do this again, but next time I will try the olive oil and basil trick – maybe even some fresh oregano!

Now to find some inexpensive (is there such a thing?) canning jars to make some pasta sauce, tomato sauce and salsa!  I am also looking into buying some of those tattler jar lids that are reuseable.  They are also a bit on the pricey side, but when you consider that they can be used over and over again, I guess that compensates.

My last picture is of the tomato guard we have on duty in my tomato patch!  Isn’t she pretty.  From what I can gather, she is a Western Orb Spider.  She is pretty big and at first I was quite startled by her size.  Yes, she will bite and her bite can be painful, but I think I will just leave her as nature intended.  I only wonder, however, if she is eating my pollinators!spider on guard

Thanks for reading!  I sincerely appreciate any kind comment you would like to express!

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42 thoughts on “Drying Tomatoes

  1. Loving your recipe and the picture at the bottom of the tomato plants, lol. The little tomato on the plant looks like a baby alien’s head! Too cute 🙂

    • Yes Wendy – can’t forget to make your yummy salsa recipe – though I’m sure mine won’t be as good as yours! 😀

    • Great to have you along on our journey, Wanda Ann! This was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I am going to try another batch tomorrow (my tomato plants are producing like crazy!) but I am going to try drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with some chopped fresh basil. Thank you for sharing this on facebook and, as always, thank you for hosting such a great blog party!

    • I love dried tomatoes on top of a pizza! You still get the good tomato taste but none of the juice that a fresh tomatoe makes, which waters down the pizza! Thanks for reading my post and for your comment!

  2. LUSTING , DROOLING, ENVYING these tomatoes of yours! I just tied ( AGAIN ) my tomato plants which are getting HUGE but not even a hint of red to them yet. Geez it’ll be ages till I eat my own tomatoes. I think it’s all the rain and weird weather we’ve had.

    ENJOY!!! 🙂

    • Thanks Debra! Yes, my tomato plants seem to like me 😀 I have never grown heirloom tomatoes before, so I wonder if that’s why they are so much bigger and producing tons of fruit?! The best part is the taste! I will never go back to store-bought again! I live in California, so maybe it’s our sunny, hot weather that makes our tomatoes ripen early? Anyway, I’m sure yours will be wonderful and yummy soon! Thanks for stopping by.

    • They really are quite good! I think it’s because of the fact that they are heirloom, organic, and grown by me! 😀 Too bad you don’t live closer, I have enough to share! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks Angie! I am knee deep in drying tomatoes, freezing peppers and pickling beets right now! I know it’s supposed to be a chore, but I am really having fun and I think it’s because I found some recipes and techniques that are really easy! Thanks for reading!

    • Yes, BB, that last picture can give people the heebie jeebies. That spider is really big with her back end being the size of my thumb pad, and the first time I saw her I had just run into her web while I was harvesting some tomatoes. Boy was I startled! But now that I know where she is (she hardly moves because she keeps one or two of her legs on a corner of her huge web) I avoid getting too close to her because I don’t know if she will jump. I hate spiders that jump! Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment!

    • Pam,
      I love slow roasted tomatoes! I decided to try this recipe – out of Mother Earth News magazine – because it sounded so simple and yummy. I have so many tomatoes right now that I need to find different ways to preserve them! 😉 Next….. spaghetti sauce!

  3. Hello. I think this is really a great way to put back those luscious fresh tomatoes. Adding them to soups and stews, and don’t forget the scrambled eggs in the morning. We so work at growing as much as we can to put up and put back.
    Have a great week!
    Blessings, Roxy

    • Good morning Roxy! Yes, soups and stews and eggs in the morning – yummy! Thanks for reading and commenting – I will share the love over on your site!

    • You are welcome, Sarah! We should also thank Mother Earth News Magazine – I followed an article in their magazine to do this – soft of.

    • I am already on my second batch of these! This recipe is so simple and easy – just the way I like it! The great thing is that it doesn’t matter how many tomatoes you have, two or two hundred, so you should try it! I already posted at Wildcrafting – thanks for the invite.

  4. This is a great idea! I have never thought of dehydrating tomatoes before, but I bet they taste a lot better than the jarred kind at the store. I will definitely be trying this.

    That spider is HUGE!

    Thanks for linking up to Natural Living Monday!

    • Andrea,
      Unfortunately, yes, that spider is HUGE! Every time I go to pick tomatoes now I have to look for her to make sure I’m not disturbing her! I am in the middle of dehydrating more tomatoes now, as we speak! I sprinkled them with sea salt and fresh basil. We’ll see how those turn out! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Canning jars are so expensive. What we did was buy a few each year and since they can be used over and over again as well, we slowly built up a good sized collection. Now I almost always have enough jars to can all that we want and need!

    Thank you so much for sharing on A Humble Bumble’s Healthy Tuesday’s Blog Hop!
    Kerry from Country Living On A Hill

    • I went shopping on-line the other day and found a few stores around me that had their canning jars on sale. On-line the most inexpensive place to buy them was Tractor Supply. Then I went grocery shopping and, lo and behold, my grocery store had canning jars on sale – the cheapest I had found so far! I snatched one dozen pints and one dozen half pints at $6.98 each! I think I got the cheapest jars in this area! Hooray! Now I need to get canning! Thanks Kerry!

  6. Just found you through Homestead Barn Hop. Try thrift shops, Goodwill stores, Salvation Army stores, etc for cheap canning jars. Just have to buy the lids and bands. Much cheaper than grocery stores. Put them through your dishwasher to sanitize and start canning. Hope this helps.

    • Sue,
      I tried this and only found two jars. It’s canning season and I think I am one step behind everyone else. However, I will keep my eyes open from now on. I’m thinking of frequenting a few yard sales. Craigslist in my area didn’t have any either. The good news is that my local grocery store had them on sale so I bought two dozen. That should get me started. Thanks for your helpful thoughts!

  7. I will have to try this with my tomatoes. I don’t use a lot of them because my husband suffers so with heartburn, but it is nice to have a few tomatoes now and then. I would have a heart attack if I saw that spider in my garden! I can take snakes, mice and worms, but NOT spiders. Yikes!

    Thank you for sharing it at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a great weekend!


    • Deborah,
      Yes, every time I see that spider I get the heebie jeebies, but thankfully she has stayed pretty much in one area. I figure as long as I can see her I’m okay. This is a super simple way to dry tomatoes and would be good for adding to meals now and then. Thanks!

    • Yes – I’m well preserved! Hahaha But, between freezing, canning and drying – holy cow – all I need to do now is ferment something! Thanks Becky.

  8. Oh, I want to try this! I am starting to get quite a few tomatoes. Going to make a batch of salsa in a couple of days. Really happy to have these instructions. Thanks for sharing it with SYC.!

    • Jann,
      I have had quite a few tomatoes lately. Right now they have slowed down just a bit, but there are quite a few green tomatoes that should be ripe in a few days. My next project is to make some spaghetti sauce and can it.

  9. Great tutorial! I am pinning this – I hope our tomato crop increases soon – it hasn’t been good this year! I am delighted that you shared with Home and Garden Thursday,

    • Thanks, Kathy. Of course, I can’t take all the credit. I got the original recipe (with a few tweaks) from Mother Earth News magazine – August/September 2013. Love that magazine!