The slices are as thin as I can easily make them, a bit thinner than for
dinner, so are about 3/8-inch thick or thereabouts. Sometimes I get only
partial slices but don't worry about it as they all taste as good whether
it's full slices or part slices. Cherry-type tomatoes are sliced in half
or quarters. The most important thing would be to be consistent for size
on a particular batch so they are ready at the same time. You definitely
would not want thick and thin or quarters in the same batch or some would
be over-dried and would lose some of their quality. They are ready as
soon as they readily break or crumble.
For drying, I usually slice them first thing in the morning, leave them
out in the sun all day and then in the dehydrator overnight. It will vary
depending on your humidity as well as the type of tomato (and thickness of
the slices). Just keep them going until they are completely dry. I seal
them in vacu-seal bags which is probably a mistake because I usually put
quite a few in each bag . . . a mistake because once I open a bag, I eat
them all in less than a day or two! Better than candy. So far, none have
made it to salad, noodles or sauces.<g> They can be stored in glass jars
with the lids fastened tightly; I will use canning jars with a used (but
not bent) sealing lid with the ring when I use jars. My book recommends
putting any fresh fruit dried with peels left on in the freezer for at
least 48 hours to be certain any possible critter eggs are killed. Though
I don't worry about that, I still do it after they are in their storage
container. All of my fruits/veggies are dried with the skins on. Plums,
grapes, etc., are cut in half.
Type? Romas are by far the best; they slice so very nicely and "behave
themselves" on the racks. I don't like them fresh at all; they are
definitely a cooking tomato. However, all tomatoes are good dried, but
the juicier ones are much messier to prepare when fully ripe. They
sweeten when dried; the flavors are more intense. Until I dried my first
ones in 2000, I had not eaten dried tomatoes and didn't understand why
people liked them so much. Well, now I know.<g> I still haven't eaten
commercial ones, however.
All tomatoes can be dried; however, I usually can the others because they
are so much bigger. The diameter of the Romas lend very well to slicing
and can be sliced thinner as they are a meaty tomato as well as giving
consistent sizes. I've dried nearly every variety as most of mine are
heirlooms and there are never less than two dozen varieties in my garden
any year. This year, for instance, I have nearly a dozen of cherry-type
heirlooms as well as many full size tomato varieties.
All the preserving directions say to use firm fruits. That is good;
however, I don't worry about it if they are a tiny bit overripe as long as
they dry properly. My thoughts are that any that would be preserved by
canning or sauces are good for drying. Others might or might not agree.
Beware of dried tomatoes . . . they are addictive. I plant Romas just for
drying though I also can sauces made with them. I'm so very anxiously
awaiting ripe Romas, lots of ripe Romas, so I can feed my addition. <g>
I hope all your questions are answered, and maybe some you didn't think to
ask. Happy drying.
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