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Dehydrating Tiny Tomatoes


Small tomatoes tend to be late-season sensations that produce 'way more fruits than you can possibly eat. Having cherry or grape tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner because you have so many of them doesn't sound too great. But you sure don't want these tangy, terrific, tiny tomatoes to go to waste.


            Answer: purchase a dehydrator! Your garden club can keep it from year to year, or maybe one family in your club would purchase or loan you a dehydrator just for the last week of harvest. That way, you can save cherry or grape tomatoes from a killing frost, and take your time enjoying them over the long winter months, when a burst of summer flavor is very welcome.



Nesco is a good brand of dehydrator, available at big-box stores,

country supply stores or online.



            Dehydrating means to remove the water from the food item. See the underlined  root word (which would be "hydrate" except for the "-ing" suffix, which requires taking the "e" off). To "hydrate" something is to add water. To "dehydrate" it is to take away water. If you don't remove the water from the tomatoes, they will rot.


This is a great harvest time solution if you don't have a lot of time or money, or freezer space, so that you can store dried foods in any dark, fairly cool location and it will last for a year or more.


            But you won't want to wait quite THAT long! It's a fun idea to dry tiny tomatoes, and then, during the holidays, toss them with a little olive oil and a few shakes of your favorite seasonings, and offer them as an appetizer or snack for your family and friends.


            Dried small tomatoes also are yummy if you throw some into pasta sauce that you are heating up, to spoon over a chicken breast or pasta, and give the dish more "oomph."


            A handful of dried tomatoes makes a great addition to your lunch bag, or for snack time any time.


            Here's how to do it:


1.      Wash the small tomatoes, then dry on a towel.


2.      Preheat dehydrator according to the instructions that came with it.


3.      With adult supervision, a sharp knife and a cutting board, cut each tiny tomato in half, and lay it on the drying racks.


4.      Make sure to keep the small tomatoes in one layer, not overlapping each other.


5.      Since tomatoes contain so much water, it will take several hours; again, check the time and temperature instructions that came with your dehydrator, and plan to start early enough in the day so that you can unplug it before bedtime. You don't want to have to get up in the middle of the night to unplug it!


6.      Rotate the drying racks at least once during the drying period. Unplug the machine, and put the bottom racks on top and vice versa.


7.      The dried tomatoes should be as hard-squishy as raisins, or crisp.


8.      Store in airtight glass or plastic jars, or in zip-lock bags. It's best to store someplace that is cool and dark. Label with the expiration date one year from when you dried the small tomatoes . . . and don't forget to eat them!


By Susan Darst Williams • • Harvest 02 © 2012



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