Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
To get started on solar dehydrating tomatoes, cut them into smaller pieces. We usually cut ours in half. To speed the process along, you can also make a small slit in the back of the tomatoes.
Then, place the tomatoes on your drying screen. You don't need to place them very strategically; just give them a little space. One full sheet should take two full days to dry. The outdoor temperature and amount of direct sun will determine the exact time you will need to dehydrate tomatoes.
Monitor your tomatoes regularly to make sure the vents on the solar food dehydrator are set at the necessary positions. If you check on them sporadically, you can also see how the drying progresses.
Your solar food dryer should always be between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're not careful, the dryer temperature can get pretty hot. Ours got up to 160 degrees once before anyone noticed. It wasn't a huge deal, but it definitely wasn't ideal. Just remember to vent properly.
After two days of proper heat, sun and ventillation, your tomatoes should look like these. Take them off the screen and they're ready for you to use however you please! If you have an abundance of tomatoes like we did at the office, try out a variety of uses for them. A couple good options for you solar dehydrated tomatoes: a topping on basil pesto pizza or pasta, as the base of a cream sauce for vegetables, blended into hummus, used with flank steak and fresh sweet corn for a fun summertime salad. Your options are endless!
If you have experience you'd like to share on how to dehydrate tomatoes, especially in a solar food dryer, please leave them in the comments section below.
Photos by Megan Hinman