When I think of buying or using dried tomatoes, my first thought is of sun-dried tomatoes. I believe that would be your thought too. Sun-dried tomatoes are not only rich in flavor but also contain several nutrients. But are all sun-dried tomatoes healthy?
For sun-dried tomatoes to deserve the merit attributed to them, tomatoes must be slowly and naturally dried in the sun. There is more. Only some particular varieties of tomatoes are suitable for the process, and the drying process has to take place in a suitable climate – where it is very hot during the day but cooler at night.
When I was reading about this topic, I came across an article published by the University of Minnesota Extension. The article said that sun-drying of tomatoes is not viable if the humidity level is high during the summer. (Link)
Commercially produced sun-dried tomatoes which are sold by reputed brands would likely be safe because those companies would have taken the above factors into account. But will it be safe if we just decide to buy some tomatoes and keep them to dry on the roof of our house. I guess not.
Here’s the concern. In order for tomatoes to fully dry in the sun, it will take several days. Now if the days are not very hot and sunny, the process will just drag on. If the nights are hot and humid, there will be the risk of bacteria and mold accumulating in the tomatoes.
The Right Way To Dry Tomatoes At Home
1. Use An Oven Or Electric Dehydrator
Instead of attempting to dry tomatoes in the sun, use an oven or an electric dehydrator. Set at a low temperature, these electrical appliances will dry the tomatoes or any other food safely. Watch this video that shows drying tomatoes in an oven.
2. Choose Tomatoes Carefully
When it comes to the type of tomatoes suitable for drying, you cannot choose a juicy variety, regardless of the method of drying. Cut the tomatoes length-wise, and shake off any juice before keeping them on the tray.
If you are using an oven, remember to open the oven frequently during the drying process to allow the moisture to escape. If you are using a dehydrator, shuffle the trays every hour or so. When the tomatoes are fully dry, allow them to cool before putting them in storage bottles or making tomato powder.
Other vegetables and herbs can be dried in the similar manner.