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Food Safety & Preservation

Latest food safety and preservation information from Cook County Extension

Drying Tomatoes

Posted by Ron Wolford -

Some Illinoisans are wanting to sun dry their own tomatoes in an effort to replicate the products offered in the grocery store. Unfortunately, sun drying fruits and vegetables in Illinois is not recommended. 

According to Jananne Finck, Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, Springfield Center, summer humidity is too high for food drying outdoors. In high humidity, food won't dry and mold can result. 

To properly dry food outdoors, several consecutive days of hot, dry, breezy weather are needed. A minimum temperature of 85 degrees F is required. The humidity should be below 60 percent. 

These requirements limit drying foods outdoors in many areas. Without the low humidity, water vapor condenses and adds moisture back to the food, slowing the drying process.

As these ideal conditions are not usually available when fruit ripens in Illinois, other alternatives for drying fruits should be considered.

If you want to dry tomatoes, the best method is to use a food dehydrator. 

Steam or dip tomatoes in boiling water to loosen skins. Chill in cold water and peel. Cut into 1/4-inch slices. 

Blanching is needed before drying. Times are 3 minutes for steam blanching and one minute for hot water blanching. Drying time is approximately 10 to 18 hours. Follow manufacturer's directions for best results. 

For more information on drying foods, contact your local University of Illinois Extension office or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation

Source: Jananne Finck, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness,

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