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Ski
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PostSat Sep 19, 2020 12:21 pm 
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We have a glut of tomatoes and Italian plums and are attempting to run them through the dehydrator.

First batch of plums in my "American Harvest" unit I started at low temp, but as they weren't drying as fast as I wanted them to, I ended up cranking up the temperature to about 135 F, after which they finally dried out.
Not bad for a first attempt.
Second batch of plums: not so good. Cranked up temperature on dehydrator to 145 F right from the start, and they shrank up something awful and turned into little hockey pucks. Not really quite what I had in mind.

Any tips?

I cut circles of baking parchment to fit the trays and laid the tomato slices in and set it at 145 F and let it run all night. Those that did dry fully are bonded to the parchment now.
I could try a paint scraper to remove them perhaps.  huh.gif

Same problem in the other kitchen, although she used aluminum foil and dried them in the oven. Tomato slices are bonded to the foil.  huh.gif

Her dehydrator has no temperature control. It's ON or OFF. Runs at 165 F. She had great success last year doing only cherry tomatoes - they turned out great.

These big ones (the size of baseballs) all sliced up are giving us fits.

What about trying a light coating of a "PAM" type cooking spray on the parchment before loading it with the tomato slices? Yes? No?

What are we doing wrong here?

BK

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Navy salad
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PostMon Sep 21, 2020 11:59 am 
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Well, I'm not Sarbar, but I have dried a lot of tomatoes and tomato products like salsa, tomato sauce, hot sauce, etc. and the one thing they have in common is they all like to stick, even to (as you found) parchment paper. What helps, even though it doesn't completely eliminate the problem, is as you suggested -- a light coating of spray oil or regular oil on a paper towel. As you know, oils introduce fat which can go rancid, but if you store them in the freezer (better yet, after vacuum packing them) they will last a long time.
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Downhill
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PostFri Sep 25, 2020 7:41 pm 
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Dried tomatoes are one of my favorite items to dehydrate - I think they turn out really well.  The flavor boost is amazing, they hold up well for days in the pack and they seem to cook/rehydrate rather quickly (a little pre-soak in hot H2O doesn't hurt).

As for the drying process, I don't use parchment paper.  I put my tomato slices directly on the plastic racks of the dryer, no oil.  They will stick regardless and I find it's easier to scrape them off of the rack than the parchment - and I also think they will dry faster due to better airflow.  I haven't really had any issues getting the slices off the rack with a spatula.  Drying temps?  I don't think the thermostat on my dryer is reliable but it remains set at 145*F.  I don't increase/decrease the drying temps, I only adjust by time in the dryer based on the food I'm drying.

I used to buy Trader Joe's sun-dried tomatoes as a standard part of my mountain pantry, but I honestly think the homemade dehydrated tomatoes taste better and reconstitute faster. I have had good results with nearly every type of tomato you can buy at the grocery or grow in your garden.

On the subject of dried foods - if you have never dehydrated watermelon in your dryer, you are missing out on one of life's pleasures!  As the name suggests, it's 99% water so expect to have a whole fresh watermelon dry down to strips that can fit in a quart ziplock - but they will taste like candy!!  Everyone I have shared this with has been shocked how good it is - very, very yummy trail snack!
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Ski
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PostSat Sep 26, 2020 12:38 am 
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^ The tomato slices that I managed to peel off of the parchment are almost like potato chips - except they're tomato chips, and are not salty.
I have been buying and using the TJ's sun-dried tomatoes for years as an ingredient in one of my favorite backcountry dinners, and I tend to agree with you about the taste of those I did here versus the TJ's product, excellent as it is.

We dried watermelon slices years ago. Finished product was paper thin. The boys wolfed it all down in a hurry.

Also an entire box of nectarines hauled back from Thompson's in Naches - sliced thinly and then dipped quickly in a solution of cold water with a few teaspoons of ascorbic acid mixed in to retain the color. A 24-pound box yielded exactly one quart zip-lock bag full.
A visiting niece consumed the entire bag in about 45 minutes. huh.gif

Not sure if the tomato crop is all done yet. If not I will give it another shot and try your method just laying them on the racks using the higher temperature of 145 F.  up.gif

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Snuffy
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PostSat Sep 26, 2020 5:16 pm 
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I'm not sarbar either but I find for sticky foods, waiting until completely cool (even longer) before attempting to dislodge from the trays helps.  Also, flipping them half way through can help. I ditto what Navy Salad said about the spraying.  There is a reason a lot of purchased dried foods have an oil coating.

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sarbar
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 6:08 pm 
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I am so sorry I missed this! I have been just buried in homeschooling frown.gif

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Ski
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PostSat Oct 10, 2020 8:39 pm 
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no problem.
I have a plate full of tomatoes on the back porch still waiting for your expert advice. wink.gif

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