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.
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.
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!
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!