The act of preservation through drying is one of the most popular methods of keeping food for extended storage. Dehydration naturally (by sun or air) or artificially ( by a drying device) allows us to grow or acquire a surplus product in season and then have the opportunity to consume that product at a much later time.
In this article I am going to cut the text down a little (unusual for me) and briefly cover how to dehydrate cherry tomatoes using the artificial drying method with the Excalibur Dehydrator.
Cherry tomatoes are a wonderful fruit and really easy to grow. I never plant cherry tomatoes purposefully in my garden – seriously never. Due to the weed-like way they germinate all over my yard, I just dig-up and transplant the seedlings and re-plant where I want them all year round. They are sweet to eat (probably the sweetest of all the tomato varieties) and no hassle to prepare as you can either pop one in your mouth whole for a snack or simply halve them for salads etc. Tomato sauce made with cherry tomatoes might be a bit tedious because picking enough of them is pretty boring but the effort is soooo worth it. Some music helps (with the picking).
How to Dehydrate Cherry Tomatoes Using a Dehydrator
Dehydrating cherry tomatoes is easy work, below are 7 steps to producing your own deli style semi-dried tomatoes:
Step 1 – Firstly, as mentioned you should grow cherry tomatoes rather than buy; not only are they easy to grow but you know what is in them, or more importantly what's not (like pesticides). But, buying them is fine especially if you stumble upon some at the markets for cheap. I have to say, those little plastic boxes of cherry tomatoes you find in the supermarket for $1.99 may look cute but it's such a rip-off.
Step 2 – Pick'em then give'em a rinse under water.
Step 3 – Cut them in half and place the tomatoes cut side up on the dehydrating tray. You'll find each half should balance quite well without listing too much.
Step 4 – Sprinkle a few grains of cooking salt on the top of each half.
Step 5 – Place the trays of tomatoes in the dehydrator and set for 12 hours on 57ºC (timings & temp depend on the type and make of your dehydrator).
Step 6 – You may find some of the tomatoes will dry faster than others, so check after about 6 hours and see how they're doing but it's usually after 9 hours when I tend to start finding several ready to be removed. Check occasionally and remove the tomatoes as they become ready. After 12 hours most should be done, however, some tomatoes may need a few more hours.
Step 7 – Store the tomatoes in plastic bags or containers in a pantry, fridge, or freezer. You can also further preserve the semi-dried tomatoes covered in oil (vegetable or olive) in sterilised bottles and they keep well.
How to tell Dehydrated Cherry Tomatoes are Ready?
When to remove the dried tomatoes is personal preference and whether you want them semi-dried or crispy. For semi-dried I like to wait until the tomato looks dry on top and has a feel similar to a sultana – you shouldn't be able to easily squeeze watery liquid from the mummified fruit. If you want the tomatoes crispy for longer storage or to powderise, well just leave them in the dehydrator until the cows come home and they'll turn into little tomato buttons.
How to use Dehydrated Cherry Tomatoes?
Obviously, the semi-dried cherry variety of tomatoes are smaller than the standard shop semi-dried tomatoes, which are usually made from the thicker and larger oval varieties like Roma. Nevertheless, the cherry variety are a sweeter flavour and it doesn't take many to enhance any dish. Dehydrated cherry tomatoes can be used in a million different recipes; we particularly like them on pizza, stuffed with cheese in rolled chicken breast, infused in bread loaf, or just eaten as-is.
The fully dried cherry tomatoes can be rehydrated by soaking them in a little water or just add them to soups and stews. The powdered tomatoes can be used as a thickener in cooking and rehydrated for sauces etc.
That's all there is to dehydrating cherry tomatoes! Like most dehydrated foods the process concentrates the flavours and turns an excellent healthy food with a limited shelf life into a great healthy food with a long storage life conveniently on hand to use whenever required.
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