We invested in a dehydrator many years ago and have found it a very useful way to help deal with gluts from our garden and CSA box.
The most common items we dry are apples for snacking and cabbage to add to soups and stews in the winter. We have also found it great for drying herbs from the garden when they start growing out of control.
Ours is a 4 tray Excalibur brand dehydrator which are easy to find online. It is easy to use and has proved very reliable over many years of use.
One of the options for the Food in Jars mastery challenge for October was dehydrating so I thought I’d have a go at something I haven’t tried drying before: tomatoes. We preserve loads of tomatoes at the height of summer but most of them are turned into sauce, paste or jam.
Even though the end of October beckons there are still a few late season tomatoes around in my part of Georgia. Last week’s CSA box included some grape tomatoes which made ideal candidates for the dehydrator.
Prepping them was easy: I just washed them and halved them, before loading them onto the dehydrator trays. Some folks season them at this stage or marinate them before drying but I just left them as they were, preferring to season when I come to use them in the future.
Having loaded the tomatoes into the dehydrator I set the temperature to 135 degrees F and turned it on. They took around 9 hours in total. Larger tomatoes would take a bit longer. The trick is to regularly check them to see if they have achieved the desired result where they are dry and slightly leathery.
Once they have cooled store them in an airtight jar. I look forward to using them to get a burst of summer flavour in some of my winter cooking but I couldn’t resist putting some of them to use sooner than that. I softened some in oilve oil before whipping together with feta and yogurt to make a tangy and tasty dip.
Feta and Tomato Dip
0.25 cup dried grape tomatoes
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
0.5 cup plain yogurt (I used fat free)
2oz crumbled feta cheese (I used an excellent goats cheese feta from a local farm)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put both the oil and tomatoes in a food processor and blitz for a few seconds to start chopping the tomatoes.
Add the yogurt and feta and process until blended into a pink hued chunky dip.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper. As feta tends to be salty you may only need the black pepper.
Enjoy with crudites or on crackers.