Drying tomatoes

Late summer to early autumn is tomato drying time for me. I grow lots of cherry varieties for this reason. Three of my favourites are Black Cherry, Reisentraube and a red pear-shaped one whose name I don’t know. It came up as a seedling down the back of our property many years ago and I’ve been growing it ever since. I suspect it came in from a neighbouring property.

So I go from this :


To this :


To this :


Those two jars are 2-litre jars. I attempt to end tomato season with both of them full of dried goodness (you’re looking at last year’s efforts there). So far this year I have filled one jar and have slightly less than half a jar left over from last year. I use them in cooking—casseroles, omelets, scrambled eggs, whatever; sometimes just a bowl beside the computer for nibbles while surfing.

I dry them in the sun when I can and when conditions aren’t suitable, they go in the Excalibur dryer :


I cut them in half and add a sprinkling of salt to the cut surface. It helps to draw out water and if I want to use them as nibbles, it’s imperative. I once dried some without and they were soooo bland. It doesn’t matter if they’re going into something cooked.

The sun-drying frame is just 4 lengths of 42 x 19 mm framing pine, or you can use any scrap timber available. The flywire is the metal stuff—I didn’t ever try plastic.  I assumed it would soften in the sun and all the tomatoes would roll into the centre. You’ll need an extra frame to go over the top to keep birds and insects at bay.

I store them dry, meaning I don’t add olive oil as you would usually buy them. They must be very dry (but still chewy)—the slightest amount of moisture and they will develop mould. I’ve had mould develop when they weren’t dried quickly enough, before I had the dryer to finish them off.

10 Responses to “Drying tomatoes”

  1. notsomethingelse Says:

    One of the varieties I have grown this year is a small yellow pear shaped one like your red ones. It is a prolific grower and I have a dozen plants producing. I was wondering what to do with them all before reading this. I haven’t used my dryer for quite a while but I think I have now got a use for it again. Thank you.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      I grew the yellow pear variety for a couple of years, but wasn’t impressed with the flavour. It did look nice in a salad mixed with red and black varieties, though. I really love my Excalibur!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bek Says:

    I love the look of the Excalibur dehydrator, but I already have a sufficient one for my needs so can’t quite justify getting one. But one day when (hopefully) the harvests are too big for my current unit I will splurge and get one. Those toms look great. I’ve dried them before but didn’t end up using them as much as I thought, so now I just do passata and salsa and sauce to preserve.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      I freeze a lot of the non-cherries too, and use them for sauces, only defrosting what I need for a small amount of sauce at a time.


  3. Chris Says:

    Delicious! I’m afraid I’d have to drown mine in olive oil though. I love them that way. 😉


  4. Jane Says:

    I put my dried tomatoes in olive oil with sliced garlic cloves basil leaves and whole black peppercorns. I use the tomatoes in salads, sandwiches, soups and stews and omelettes etc. once the tomatoes are gone the oil makes a nice salad dressing. Longest I kept ajar of dried tomatoes was two years, they were very dark, almost black but oh sooo yummy! You need to make sure there is no air space in the jar, all tomatoes should be submerged, and all tomatoes used should be perfect, blemish free.
    Love your blog, so many great ideas. Thank you.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Jane, thanks for the comment. I’m going to try some in oil. Was the garlic dried as well? I’ve read that putting fresh garlic in oil can cause food poisoning bugs to grow. I like the idea of using the flavoured oil as a salad dressing.


  5. Jane Says:

    No the garlic was fresh. I hadn’t heard that warning. I had no ill effects after eating the two year old tomatoes, though I wasn’t irresponsible enough to risk poisoning my friends. I didn’t mean to keep them that long, they got lost in the cupboard. I think if everything is well covered with oil it should be ok. I turn the jar upside down briefly after filling so I can see there are no air pockets. I am not a professional cook, it was just something I tried and it worked for me. I’ve been doing them for quite a few years now with no problems. It’s good to not eat them under 3 weeks old so the flavours can develop. My friends have had no problems either. I think keeping them for years might be pushing luck a bit far. I only did that once accidentally and I was then curious enough to risk eating. They were yum.


  6. Jane Says:

    Sorry, forgot to say I keep them in a cupboard out of the light, and once the jar is opened I keep it in the fridge.


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