Dried tomatoes don't have to be "sun-dried" to be delicious. If you live in an area where Mother Nature is not always your friend, you can give her a boost by drying your tomatoes in a dehydrator. If you opt to dry your tomatoes in the dehydrator, you won't lose a drop of goodness, but you will save time. Plus, your favorite recipes won't be changed an iota if you alter the drying method for your tomatoes.
It's relatively easy to dry your tomatoes in a dehydrator, and for the most part, the appliance does the majority of the work for you. You should set aside about 15 minutes to cut up the tomatoes and lay them on the drying rack, but the whole process takes about six to eight hours to complete.
Keep an eye on your tomatoes to be sure they are not crisping up too much or starting to blacken.
With your knife, slice tomatoes in strips between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick. Less than that will tend to yield dark tomatoes, while thicker pieces dry unevenly. For oval shapes such as pear or Roma tomatoes, slice them lengthwise. If the strips are more than 1/2-inch, cut them in half.
Spoon out the seed gel, being careful not to puncture the skin. This step greatly reduces drying time. You can also use the tip of a peeler to complete this step, Some people skip this step and use the seeds in other recipes, such as chili or pasta.
Arrange the tomato pieces skin side down on the dehydrator trays. Leave space between tomato pieces on all sides so the air can circulate.
Set your dehydrator for 135 F. Let tomatoes dry until they are leathery or start to crisp, which will usually take 6 to 8 hours. Keep your eyes on the drying trays. If you mix varieties of tomatoes, the liquid content varies—as does the time it takes the tomatoes to dry.
Remove trays and let the tomatoes cool for 10 minutes.
Storing Your Tomatoes
Keep your fresh pieces of sun-dried tomatoes in an airtight bag or storage container in your refrigerator for six to nine months. You can also freeze them, but be sure there is no moisture on your tomatoes to avoid freezer burn.
You can also put your tomatoes in a jar with seasoned olive oil—think garlic and fresh herbs, such as oregano and basil for an Italian flavor or without additional seasoning. You can use the oil for salad dressings, too. Use your tomatoes within three months to avoid the threat of botulism.
Rehydrating the Tomatoes
To use, reconstitute your dried tomatoes by pouring boiling water over them and letting them soak for 15 minutes. If that process leaves your tomatoes too tough, try using either vegetable or chicken broth. Just pour the broth and an equal amount of water over the tomatoes and microwave them for about 2 minutes.
You're ready to use reconstituted tomatoes can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.