End of Season Tomatoes and Drying Tiny Tomatoes

October 6, 2015

a flat of small tomatoes

A few weeks ago, I found myself feeling anxious about the state of my tomato preserves. I’d already sauced 50 pounds of heirlooms, but hadn’t managed to get any Roma or paste tomatoes to can whole or in halves. In a frenzy only other canners will understand, I started reaching out to some of my regular tomato sources, hoping to get another 25 or 50 pounds to preserve.

In the end, I was too late. Unable to get my hands on any tomatoes appropriate for canning whole, I settled for two flats of tiny tomatoes (they were mostly grape and Sungolds) and another ten pounds of heirlooms. Not exactly what I wanted, but in the end, they managed to calm my inner pioneer.

halved small tomatoes

I roasted and canned the heirlooms according to Kaela’s instructions (though I included a bit more of their liquid than she does). I wound up with seven precious pints, and they will be carefully rationed throughout the winter.

The small tomatoes became three separate products. I made a batch of honey sweetened tomato jam. I roasted, milled, spiced, and simmered ten pounds into pizza sauce (more on that tomorrow). And I carefully halved and arranged the remaining eight pounds on dehydrator trays and dried them into tomato candy (two batches through the dehydrator, in all).

dehydrated grape tomatoes

I posted pictures of my racks of drying tomatoes on Instagram and got a number of questions about how I do it and how I use them. The how is easy. I wash the tomatoes, pick them over to ensure that I don’t have any that are starting to go bad, slice them in half, and arrange them on the trays. Over the course of the next 12-14 hours, the machine does the rest (set at 135 degrees F, the suggested temp).

finished dried tomatoes

Once the tomatoes are entirely dry, I unstack the trays and let them cool. I spread a towel on the countertop and use a combination of shaking and banging to remove the from the trays. They get stored in either a jar or a zip top plastic bag and my dried tomatoes are done.

After I’ve admired them for a week or two, I start using them. I stir them into quinoa salad. I make Tara’s zucchini noodle salad. I use them to garnish soup. I make batches of savory granola and use the dried tomatoes instead of raisins. Sometimes I nibble a few while making dinner. They are always a welcome addition to my pantry and when they run out, I wish I’d made more. Such is the way of preserving.

Do you guys dry tomatoes? How do you use them?

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28 thoughts on "End of Season Tomatoes and Drying Tiny Tomatoes"

  • I feel your pain, woman: I have yet to do ANY tomatoes this year, and it may be too late. We are looking at a long, salsa-less winter if so! 🙁

  • Last year I dried a couple pounds of currant tomatoes. They started off the size of large peas, and I basically had tomato “raisins” when I was done!

  • Savory granola? I’m loving the sound of that! We dried close to 15 pounds of tiny tomatoes this year. We love them on salads and in grilled cheese sandwiches in the winter, tossed into grain and pasta salads, and added to our Friday night cheese plate.

  • Wow! Much easier than how I’ve been drying mine, although I might try some of each next year when we have a garden again.

    I adapted a Madhur Jaffrey recipe and sliced my small tomatoes in half, placed seeds-up in a glass pan, drizzled very lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and sometimes herbs, and then baked at the very lowest temperature my oven will go (170 F) overnight (or so). Very tasty and great on pasta or just as a snack.

  • It almost was tomato-less this year! A late blight fell quickly for the folks I get my tomatoes from. I ended up getting plenty in the end, but actually for a moment I was like: that sounds nice and relaxing–no tomato canning! After the panic, of course.

    I didn’t have very many cherry or grape tomatoes, but this looks so good that I may have to grow some next year!

  • that is brilliant! i have, oh, ten million little yellow tomatoes. that’s a conservative estimate. they are really small… i wonder if i can dry them whole? i have the same dehydrator that you do. they would probably be the size of raisins, dried. i will give it a shot and let you know.

    1. I imagine they’d turn into something raisin-like if you dry them whole. Please do let me know how they turn out!

  • These (and peaches) are my absolute favourite to dry. I love them in pasta dishes, on pizza, and best of all, in omelettes. Dried tomatoes, spinach and herb and garlic cream cheese – best omelette combo ever!

  • I dry them in the oven sprinkled with salt, pepper, and basil or thyme, then toss them in olive oil and refrigerate for several days before freezing in small jars. One jar not only tops a salad or fish, but the oil is now infused with tomato and herb and serves as its own salad dressing or dipping sauce. I’ve even used them straight as sandwich filling.

  • Those are so pretty. I always dry a few dehydrator loads of tomatoes each summer. Some go into mason jars for use with soups or other recipes. The rest go into the Vitamix to become powder and are then jarred and waiting in the pantry. It makes a wonderful quick tomato soup with some boiling water and seasoning or I’ll often grab a few spoonfuls to work into a soup that just needs ‘something’. It will clump together over time and I guess you could add some cornstarch to prevent that but it doesn’t bother me.

  • We got over 100 pounds of tomatoes from our garden this year, but they ripened unevenly enough that I didn’t feel like canning them. Usually I had enough to fill a few trays of my 9 tray Excalibur, and run them along with other fruits or veggies. Still getting enough fresh tomatoes that I haven’t experimented with the dry ones, other than eating a few SunGolds as candy like you did 😉

  • I like dried tomatoes in quiche or as a lower layer in lasagna. I also grind them for tomato powder, and make tomato cup-o-soup when I am sick (just add boiling water and stir), as well as what has already been said here.

    For people who are sensitive to the acid in tomatoes (my son, for example) these are a little more tolerated (at least, for him).

  • I want to try this. how do you store these long term? And how long do they last? What about recipes that call for roasting with olive oil? Or storing in olive oil? Thanks! (I’ve seen lots of ideas on the internet but I trust your site!!)

    1. They last at least six months in a jar or zip top bag. I just keep them in my pantry. They’re like any other dried fruit.

  • oh no! I totally understand your frenzy (and next time, come out HERE because there are still, literally, bushels of canning tomatoes available – I can hook you up!!).

    I don’t have a dehydrator, so I oven-roast some and keep them in the freezer. So tasty. But I’d love those “tomato raisins” for my kids’ lunches. Maybe I need a dehydrator. . .

    1. I really should have just driven out your way for my tomatoes. Next time!

      I bet there someone in your neck of the woods with a dehydrator that’s not being used. It’s one of those things that someone always seems to have tucked away in a basement…

  • When I need a dab of tomato paste I’ll soak my dried tomatoes in a little hot water til softened, then whiz them in the mini blender.

  • I’ve dried tomatoes before. When they were dried and cool, I ran them through my blender to make a powder. It takes up less space to store and can be added by the Tablespoon to soups and sauces for extra tomato punch.

  • I chop dried cherry tomatoes into small pieces and add them along with an Italian spice blend to home baked bread. Very tasty addition!

  • Thank you for this inspiration! I’ve been swimming in grape tomatoes, and they’ve been going bad faster than I could eat them. I don’t have a dehydrator, but as with your sun-dried Roma tomato strategy, I popped them in the oven at 200 for somethingmumble hours, then threw them in the freezer once they’d dried and cooled. They make great little fake-sun-dried snacks, and now they won’t go bad.