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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Aug
5

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This was the good. Eventually. But first came the bad and the ugly.

In the next step of my dehydration adventures, I dried tomatoes and onions.
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It was a smashing failure, at least for the tomatoes. The onions–wow, I could eat dried onions like candy. Now I remember why I can’t buy those Durkee French Fried Onions at Thanksgiving to make green bean casserole. I always want to eat the whole can of onions before I finish making the casserole. (Speaking of which, I’ve got to figure out how to make a homemade facsimile of those french fried onions. Stay tuned!)

But the tomatoes….. I tried following the instructions. Perhaps a mistake. The instructions called for blanching the tomatoes first in boiling water then cold water and peeling them before dehydrating. Perhaps I let them sit in the hot water too long? I’m not sure. I was only using about 15 roma tomatoes. I blanched most of them, probably for too long, and I blanched a few not so long, and I dried a few without blanching them at all. My good results were from the tomatoes blanched very quickly and the tomatoes not blanched (or even peeled) at all. The worst result was from the tomatoes I think I dipped too long in the hot water–those tomatoes stuck to the dehydrator trays like glue and were hell to clean off, not to mention wasted since I couldn’t get them off the trays properly.
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So, I think the blame largely falls on my shoulders, though I found the tomatoes not blanched at all came out just fine for my purposes as well. I think further experimentation is in order. (Any experiences out there? Please share!)

But, all was not lost! With my meager supply of dried tomatoes and onions (I only dried two onions, it was just an initial experiment with them, and they dried beautifully, by the way), I figured there was really no point storing them. Time for dried tomato and onion bread!
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I made the standard one-loaf version of Grandmother Bread, with an Italian bread twist. (Meaning I added a few dashes of olive oil.) I mixed in crumbled dried tomatoes and onions in the first step along with the water/yeast mixture.
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When the loaf was ready to bake, I crumbled the rest of the dried onions on top.
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You know this is crying out for some mozzarella. And some fresh-snipped basil.

I drizzled olive oil on fresh slices, added mozzarella and basil, and broiled lightly.
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A mistake never tasted so good.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 5, 2009  

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  1. 8-5
    1:51
    am

    In regards to your tomatoes, I had best results with peeled but not blanched tomatoes. I also started my tomatoes on parchment paper cut to fit my trays. Cut some vent holes or it takes forever. When side not on parchment is somewhat dry, you can peel them off the paper, place back on trays and dry until rubbery. If you are going to store them in olive oil, rub a very very thin coat on the parchment paper (pre vent holes)and they’re even easier to remove from the paper. I sliced mine about the thickness of my little finger wide (alittle less) and removed most of the seeds. This works well with figs and plums too.

  2. 8-5
    2:05
    am

    With all the rain we have had here on the Mountain I think I need to get in that dehydrator!

  3. 8-5
    2:19
    am

    Hi Suzanne:

    When I dried Roma tomatoes, I didn’t blanch them at all, and left the peeling on. I just sliced them very thin and dried them. I have an Excalibur dryer. They dried fine without really sticking to the dryer shelf. HTH some.

  4. 8-5
    4:01
    am

    :hissyfit: It looks so good I want a piece right now…With my coffee of course!!

  5. 8-5
    4:48
    am

    Watermelons are next for the dehydrator!

  6. 8-5
    5:48
    am

    Using oil on the trays before laying the tomatoes may help prevent the sticking. I spray my trays first. As for the onions, I have to dry them outside. Otherwise I fumigate the house. Did you?

  7. 8-5
    5:49
    am

    They were sweet onions. They didn’t make the house smell. I did have the windows open already, though. I have them open all summer long.

  8. 8-5
    5:54
    am

    Very nice!! Those onions do look good!! Your tomato experience is what I had with strawberries, so I commiserate with you! With the tomatoes, I did cherry tomatoes, so I just cut in half, no peeling. If you don’t mind the peelings, just leave them on…but if you don’t like the peeling, I like the parchment paper hint from Kathy.

    Good Luck! Can’t wait to see more!

  9. 8-5
    6:23
    am

    We do our Roma tomatoes sliced rather thinly and sprinkled before drying with crushed dried cayenne (or any pepper you like) and dried basil from the garden. They are pretty spicy but really good. I never blanch or peel and ours come out just fine.

  10. 8-5
    6:39
    am

    Since the peel is edible, why not leave it on, and put the peel side down against the plastic trays? That way you have something between the plastic trays and the tomato, so it will probably have less chance of sticking!

  11. 8-5
    7:01
    am

    Spray the trays with olive oil first. That might help them lift out better when done. I prefer the oven methods for tomatoes – first spraying the cookie sheet with olive oil then placing the slices, sprinkling with dried basil, and spraying the tops with olive oil. Yummy! Good luck!

  12. 8-5
    7:01
    am

    I dried Romas unblanched and unpeeled and had the same problem with cleaning the trays. What a pain. I suggest doing smaller batches while you experiment to find the best way although the parchment paper does sound like the way to go. I hope you will report your results.

  13. 8-5
    7:18
    am

    I just got my new Excalibur dehydrator but I didn’t read to peal the tomatoes. I just sliced mine about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and dried overnight. They didn’t stick at all. I can’t wait to try onions! I got the machine to make garlic powder next spring. So far I have dried plums (little ones), bananas (to gummy for me), blueberries, and zucchini (chips and shredded). I love the shredded zucchini! Your bread looks so yummy!

  14. 8-5
    7:23
    am

    I think if you are going to peel them, you need do it real quickly, but then put them on something in the dehydrator. My dehydrator has a plastic insert for making fruit leathers that I use when I am doing peeled tomatoes. Then they peel right off. If you dont have one of those I would think a layer of parchment might work to stop them from falling through.
    I do both ways, but prefer the peeled in some dishes as the skins do tend to not rehydrate as well as the rest of the tomato. Isn’t it fun experimenting with the test stuffs though?

  15. 8-5
    7:28
    am

    My dried tomatoes are terrific – just sliced into rounds. No muss…no fuss. I think they’re making a bit too much of the whole thing. The shelves on the Excaliber dehydrator stick a whole lot less. I’ve had both kinds and think the cost of the Excaliber is waaay worth it!

  16. 8-5
    7:36
    am

    That does look like a good tasting mistake! (I’ve had our windows open most of the summer too. So nice!)

  17. 8-5
    8:02
    am

    I don’t peel or blanch my tomatoes and they are great! Love the smell of deydrating onions, already have a couple of pint jars done up!

  18. 8-5
    8:26
    am

    The bread looks wonderful!! I haven’t tried much drying, but I did dry mushrooms, blueberries and some herbs. Good idea about the sweet onions, I don’t have much luck with storing them in our heat, but drying would be better.

  19. 8-5
    8:34
    am

    The bread looks so good and I imagine toasted with the cheese was delicious.

  20. 8-5
    8:49
    am

    Do you have room for one more at your house? Of the human variety. I am moving in!!! These pictures are amazing, now if I could just taste!!

    By the way Suzanne you can never have enough cute kitty pictures!!

  21. 8-5
    9:02
    am

    Hello,

    I am looking to buy a dehydrator and found a great website. She also has videos on UTube. Very informative. The website is dehydrate2store.com I can’t wait to get started dehydrating. I want to dehydrate some tomatoes to make homemade cream of tomato soup.

  22. 8-5
    9:24
    am

    Don’t forget to do strawberries, you do have to cut them thick (thickest cut blade on a food processor that has a sideshoot on ours)
    otherwise they come out too thin and you can’t get them off. I don’t spray the trays though. They taste like candy. I have done tomatoes but it has been awhile. I make sure all the seeds are out and they are sliced slightly thick. I don’t recall peeling them.

  23. 8-5
    10:17
    am

    I have an Excaliber and my tomatoes turn out great…no blanching or peeling. I just slice them 1/4 inch thick, put them in and forget about them till they are done. My tomatoes do lose alot of volume, but they make up for it in the intensity of their flavor.

    p.s. I never blanch anything when I dehydrate, and the only thing that didn’t turn out for me was yellow squash.

    p.p.s. The Excaliber has a kind of mesh that goes on top of trays that has much smaller openings than your dehydrator has, and maybe that would help the tomatoes hold their shape.

    p.p.p.s. I atribute none of my success with dehydrating to my own skill or knowlege, because I have none…I attibute all my dehydrating successes to my Excaliber dehydrator, which I feel is truely a superior product. I not affiliated with Excaliber, btw…I’m just a really satisfied customer.

  24. 8-5
    10:34
    am

    I love your blog. Just wanted to say so. :-)

  25. 8-5
    11:43
    am

    I hope you start making homemade mozzarella one day and blog about it.

  26. 8-5
    11:58
    am

    I did some tomatoes last year. I just sliced and dried them then I ground them up into powder to add to soups and stews. The only thing is I stored them in a plastic bag in the freezer and forgot about them so haven’t tried it yet. That bread really does look good.

  27. 8-5
    12:23
    pm

    MMm! I can almost smell it from here! I think that parchment paper may be your best bet to make cleanup easier. If that doesn’t work,spray the racks lightly with Pam before loading them. Tomatoes seem so much more liquid than some other veggies–did they seem particularly drippy?

    :hungry:

  28. 8-5
    4:32
    pm

    I keep thinking about your amazing dehydrator and how I have to make trail mix this week. If only I too had an amazing dehydrator I’d have amazing dried berry trail mix. Alas, I shall have to purchase dried fruit from my grocery.

  29. 8-5
    5:13
    pm

    I bet it tasted wonderful. On the home-made Durkee Fired Onions…fry the onion slices in a veggie dip coating or fried chicken coating and then dehydrate…that should do it. I don’t blanch the tomatoes either.

    Go ahead girl…you rock!

  30. 8-25
    2:44
    pm

    This is all very helpful! I never thought to look on your site, Suzanne, but here it is. I am boiling water now, searching online for info on blanching tomatoes (which looks like a royal pain in the ____ if I might say). I am going to go ahead and try the dehydrator(s) with the skin on. Maybe if they turn out I’ll do more later. OR I will blanch the things OH I ‘ll try it ALL of these ways and see which one comes out best. ;)

    Thanks!

  31. 2-14
    8:52
    pm

    i have a dehydrater just about like the one you show in the picture, and when I do tomoatoes, I use the extra screens you can get that sort of look like something you would see in the plastic canvas part of a craft store, or better yet, use the “fruit roll-up trays”. When I do the tomoatoes, I have found that if I just throw the tomoatoes in a blender–skin and all and RAW, and then dry the liquid on the “fruit roll up tray”. when it is dry, I crumble the dried tomatoes and store them in a jar in place of things like tomato paste or to add later in soup.

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