Preserving Tomatoes by Drying

Overview

Dried tomatoes add an intense tomato flavor to sauces, stir fries and soups. Drying is a simple way to preserve summer's bounty of tomatoes. Choose pear shaped "sauce" tomatoes. These tomatoes contain a higher ratio of pulp to water than tomatoes grown for use fresh in salads. Roma and pear tomatoes are two common varieties of sauce tomatoes. Add dried tomatoes to sauces, soups or pasta dishes, or soak in water to rehydrate for making bruschetta or adding to salads.

Step 1

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut out any bruised or black spots. Remove the stem.

Step 2

Slice tomatoes in half. Quarter larger tomatoes.

Step 3

Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a wire rack. A cooling rack for baked goods or the racks from an oven or refrigerator work well.

Step 4

Set the racks outside in the sun on a table or a piece of plywood suspended between sawhorses.

Step 5

Cover the racks with a layer of cheesecloth to protect the tomatoes from bugs. Support the cheesecloth above the tomatoes by arranging cans of vegetables, empty canning jars or even books between the racks to hold up the cheesecloth. Anchor the cheesecloth at the edges of the table with more cans or strips of tape to keep it from blowing away.

Step 6

Bring the trays of tomatoes inside at night. Return them to the sun the next day. After two days, flatten the tomatoes slightly with a spatula.

Step 7

Test the tomatoes for dryness after three days. They should be leathery and slightly curled at the edges. Store in clean glass jars or plastic bags in the refrigerator or freezer.

Tips and Warnings

  • You can keep your dried tomatoes in olive oil, but do not add garlic or onions, as these increase the risk of botulism growing in the oil.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Wire rack
  • Outdoor table
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cans, jars or books
  • Spatula
  • Clean glass jars or plastic bags

References

  • University of California, Davis: Dried Tomatoes
  • University of Wisconsin: Tomato Time

Who Can Help

  • Cooks: Sun Dried Tomatoes with Angel Hair Pasta
Keywords: dried tomatoes, drying tomatoes, preserving tomatoes

About this Author

Cynthia James is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from Modern Bride to Popular Mechanics. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she has a degree in economics. Before turning to freelancing full time, James worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.