Let the Drying Begin

It’s that time of year when the tomatoes start flowing in fast enough that we need to plug in the dehydrator. While you don’t necessarily need a dehydrator to dry vegetables, it sure makes it a lot easier.

Our five tray dehydrator gets a real workout in the summer months. My wife and I dry large quantities of tomatoes for use all year long. The drying really concentrates and intensifies the tomato flavor. I grow quite a few small fruited varieties of tomatoes that are ideal for drying, including Sun Gold, Supersweet 100, Juliet, Black Cherry, and Jaune Flamme.

tomatoes on dehydrator tray (click on any image to enlarge)

We cut the smaller tomatoes in half, and the larger ones in fourths. The different varieties make for a rainbow of colors on the dehydrator trays.

dried eggplant pieces

We’re also experimenting with drying eggplant this year. The long slender varieties like Pingtung Long, Thai Long Green and Millionaire will be great for this purpose. I am hoping we can add them to soups, but I have to say the Pingtung Long is pretty tasty just eating as it comes off the trays. We will also try drying some of the large oval Italian type eggplants later on in the season if we have an abundance of them. It will be best to use young and non bitter eggplants for drying, as older ones tend to get bitter and drying will only intensify the bitterness.

We also dry both sweet and hot peppers, and I make my own blend of chili powder from the dried peppers. The dehydrator also does a great job of drying herbs. I’ve filled two quart jars so far this year with dried spearmint and peppermint, which will come in handy this winter for teas.

We’ve found that all the dried vegetables keep fresher longer if they are vacuum sealed, and kept in the freezer. The dried tomatoes keep this way for up to a year, tasting the same as they did the day they were dried. That’s assuming they last a year before we eat them all up!

vacuum sealed bag of eggplant ready for the freezer

If you haven’t yet tried drying vegetables, you might want to give it a shot. They take up much less space dried, and the flavor is oh so very wonderful!

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15 Responses to Let the Drying Begin

  1. mac says:

    What a coincidence, I’m drying my eggplants as well, they come in handy later and don’t take up a lot of space.

  2. Robin says:

    I don’t have a dehydrator…but, I do have a convection oven. I dry my MWC tomatoes. They are so so good…as sweet as candy! Maybe I should try drying some eggplant this year. Sound very interesting.

    I think that I should also ask Santa for a good dehydrator! What type do you have and how do you like it?

    • Villager says:

      We got the Excalibur brand and we love it! We got the 5 tray model, but wish we had the 9 tray model because we’re always filling up all the trays.

  3. Shawn Ann says:

    I’d love a dehydrator from Santa too! Ha ha!

  4. I love dried veggies and drying them yourself is really gratifying. It’s been years since I did it but it was a huge help. The first time I ever dried vegetables was many moons ago in college…I lived out in the country. My car had broken down for about the 10th time and I couldn’t afford to get it fixed or even to have it towed away. I knew it would sit in our long driveway for a few months before I could do anything with it (you see where this is going?)

    Yes, I turned my car into a dehydrator. I had a small dehydrator and a large garden at the time. The car, with it’s magnified sunlight and heat had potential. I was able to rig up some temporary screening for times when I needed to crack the windows to allow for air flow. I have to say that it worked pretty darn well! We dried a lot of tomatoes, broccoli, and zucchini that summer! Never tried eggplant though – great idea!

    • Villager says:

      I’ve heard about people using the car to dry herbs, but never veggies. I guess it’s a ‘Mobile Solar Dehydrator’!

  5. wow! quite a harvest.

    On the luffa – you can make stew/curry with shrimp and young luffa. It is delicious. Once the luffa is 6-7 inches long you can peel them and slice them. Sautee the shrimp in garlic, onion and curry powder. Cover and let it sweat. Then add the sliced luffa and cover. The luffa will release enough moisture…you can add some chicken stock at this time as well. Add fresh corriander and roasted, crushed cumin to finish the dish. Enjoy!

  6. I’ve not thought about drying eggplant… We don’t have a dehydrator but we dry herbs and peppers in our regular electric oven at the lowest heat (like 150 degrees). Of course, that takes hours and produces heat. Does the dehydrator work faster than an oven method? Does it produce heat?

    • Villager says:

      I’m not sure if the dehydrator works faster than the oven, but I think it’s easier to fine tune the temperature. It does generate heat, but less than the oven.

  7. I’m so happy for you, but I could almost cry at the sight of all those tomatoes. We seem to be experiencing a mini ice age here, and have thus far seen ONE ripe Stupice. We’re growing black cherry too, how do you like the flavor? We haven’t grown it before (and ours are still green green green). I hope we catch up soon. I’d love to have a glut of fruits that forces me into figuring out how to store them all 😉 Are you using the Excalibur dehydrator? I haven’t purchased one yet, and am not really sure where to start, or what to look for, but I have seen that one at our local homesteading store.

    • Villager says:

      I like Black Cherry so much I planted extra of it this year. It’s wonderful fresh, dried or roasted. It seems to have a light skin, so it is darker inside than it looks outside. I would gladly send some of our hot weather your way to help ripen those tomatoes!

      We do have an Excalibur dehydator, and love it. We’ve had it four years now and it has been used a LOT! We also got the non-stick sheets to make leathers.

  8. Jody says:

    Drying eggplant, what a great idea! We’ve stopped growing eggplant, because we’ve not found a good way to store it. Next year we’ll be eager to get back to it!

  9. Daphne says:

    I do a lot of drying too. Mostly herbs, but I dry peppers too. I planted a lot of peppers so I would be able to make paprika this year, but sadly with the bacterial spot I don’t know how many I’ll really get. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

  10. tasty travels says:

    Looks delicious! I wish I had something to dry! :0)

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