Sun Dried Tomatoes

entwife(NorCal9)January 19, 2010

Does anyone peel/skin their tomatoes before dehydrating them? I never have, but I gave some away and got some comments about the skin being on them, which totally astounded me, because the flavor of the dried tomatoes was EXCELLENT. What do you think?


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I would never peel tomatoes for drying. It keeps the pulp together. That wonderful ingredient Licopene (spelling?) in the skin is 6% of the tomatoes total content as I read somewhere.
The flavor is what is important. The nutrition is also what is important.
I can't imagine saying something to someone who gave me dehydrated tomatoes anything about the skins.
If they hate the skins, and are using them in recipes where the whole tomato slice if not required, just blender or hand blend them up so they won't be seen.
To extend my comments, I do not peel my tomatoes when canning them because of the above nutrition comments. It is also a lot faster.
Jim in So. Calif.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 8:42PM
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we always dry our tomatoes with the skins on I have never seen them any other way the deli's here and in Italy all have skins on

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 9:12PM
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jonas302(central mn 4)

always with the skin on
and glad yours turned out good

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:28PM
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The first year I did sun-dried tomatoes, I did some with skins, and some without, just to see. There was no difference that I could tell, between the two, so I've never bothered with removing the skins since!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 9:01AM
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I always use peeled tomatoes because I dislike the skins. I dry mine on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 deg. until totally dried. I find that when cooking them, the skins separate and just float around like little strings.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 9:48AM
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It never occurred to me to peel my tomatos to dry them. It's not like they're tough or anything like that.

Carmen, maybe it is the high temps you are using that causes them to separate like that. My dehydrator does not get nearly that hot.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 10:50AM
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Can you use any tomato for this, or are there certain ones you prefer?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 12:47PM
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I usually add the dried tomatoes at the end of the cooking time so they don't get too mushy and seperate. I like them to have a tiny bit of chew to them. Carmen, you may be overdrying them. They should be firm and leathery without being brittle. I'm getting hungry just thinking about them lol. ;-)

My favorite tomatoes for drying are Principe Borghese. They are awesome. I am going to grow many more this year! I dry lots of other tomatoes too, for grinding up into powder, but for the traditional "sundried" tomatoes, I think PB is the best! And the plants are very prolific too.

I'm going to grow a few new varities this year too, I love to experiment. I've heard some others are great for drying too.

Thanks everyone for your opinions. The tomatoes tasted WONDERFUL, so I was really shocked that someone complained about the skins. Can't please everyone! Oh, well, more for me. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 1:13PM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

I have a sun-dried business and I neither peel them or remove seeds. You just lose too much. I soak mine in Red Wine for 24 hours and I need them to remain intact as much as possible when coming out of the soak. Keep in mind that I dry 1000-2000 ponds a year. I grow varieties that are Large, Dry, really meaty, virtually seedless and fairly early or mid-season. Most of the paste tomatoes match most of those, except perhaps size. I use a lot of oxheart varieties because they have the size I need. 300 to 500 plants. I try at least 3 and usually ten new varieties each year and only the very best make it into the line-up.
And with apologies...Principe Borgese...never in my lifetime. Seedy, small, average cherry taste and semi-determinate. I grow them so I know. The Chefs I sell to have read about the "Ultimate Drying Tomato". I charge three times as much per pound or I would never bother with them. Darn Chef's...who knew they could read?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 9:12PM
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My husband and I are thinking of buying a dehydrator for this upcoming harvest season. I would love to get some recommendations from this group as to the brand(s) and features that we should consider before purchasing.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 11:14AM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

FMA SSFD 800W Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator
OMCAN - FMA - FMA SSFD 800W Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator in Food Preparation Equipment at ACityDiscount 10 tray all stainless steel, dishwasher safe 50 to 175 degrees. I have ten of these and they have been reliable and fast. Mine are nearly 8 years old. If I have one complaint, they rattle some but not enough to be a major annoyance(of course, I have ten of them going at one time!) I also have 4 solar dehydrators built from the Mother Earth News plans. They work great but are much slower than an electric machine. We get a lot of wind in Wyoming so I have to cover the solar models with cheese cloth to keep dust out. I can dry 40 to 50 pounds of raw tomato slices in about 6 to 8 hours in my electric ones. Solar opnes take from 1 to 3 days depending on the weather.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo OmCan

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 2:35PM
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Well, I live in California, and the Principe Borghese works great for me in my climate. I'm sure not all tomatoes perform the same in all climates. What works for you might not work for me. Brokenbar, I don't hear your recommendations for your favorites, maybe you'd like to share? What is an "Ultimate Drying Tomato"?

I have an Excalibur dehydrator and I love it. It's great for regular home use. I have some yogurt going in mine right now. I use it all the time, year round. I have a lot of winter greens growing now, and I always dehydrate what I can't use fresh. I put them in soups and stews all year long. The excalibur does rattle some too. I put a rolled up paper towel inside the lid to cushion it and it stops the rattling.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 3:11PM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

For years, Principe Borgese has been touted as the "Ultimate Drying Tomato" (and I have absolutely no idea why anyone would think so.) And I will agree, area and weather makes a difference but we were discussing this on a tomato forum and most said what I said, seedy, average taste and too much trouble. I will give you a list of what I grow. I want Red, BIG, meaty, dry, nearly seedless and early-mid-season. Chefs are starting to ask for the "blacks" because they read something again ($#&@&^$*$) about how the blacks were supposed to have this "salty, smokey, earthy" flavor (I say bah humbug...they taste just the same as any others but I am happy to accomodate them and double the price which they happily pay!)

I grow these:
Amish Paste
Carol Chyko
Denofrios German (these are HUGE-ripen early and have almost no seeds)
Leatha's Italian
Russo Sicilian Togeta
Big Black Heart (I received in trade, un-named-HUGE, Dry few seeds)
Sicilian Saucer
Memorial Polish Paste

I have about five hundred plants or more (always more.. ) I try at least 3 to 10 new varieties each year. They have to have large fruit, few seeds, dry flesh, ripen fairly early and be tough...we get a lot of wind and late spring cool nights in Wyoming. It takes so many ripe tomatoes to dry 1 pound of product, big and meaty are just absolutely the only way to go. I also soak my sliced tomatoes in Red Wine for 24 hours prior to drying and watery, seedy, less meaty tomatoes fall apart too easily in the soaking process.

Every variety listed above has passed muster and has become an official member of my "herd", As I am moving to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico this spring for good (we spent part of last year remodeling our house down there) I will probably have to grow entirely different varieties (a chilling thought....) But, I will certainly have a longer growing season... For sauce...ONLY Costoluto comes through the tomato mill practically finished sauce and the flavor is great. This is a tomato that does not taste so hot fresh but the cooking process changes the chemistry. "Someone who knows" on the tomato forum says:

I fully agree with your comments on Costoluto Genovese. The sauce is phenomenal. Tomatoes are supposedly high in the flavor component called "Umami" Saucing and dehydrating concentrates umami flavor. Glutamate has been identified as the organic component responsible for umami flavor in tomatoes, and it has been found that glutamate concentration varies with variables such as variety and ripeness. My suspicion is that c.g. would be high in glutamate, and that heating somehow activates or enhances it. As an interesting note, supposedly glutamate is concentrated most in the seeds and pulp. When making fresh sauce for myself I leave the seeds and pulp on. If i'm cooking for others I remove the skins. I'm growing several hearts this year plus Costoluto Fiorentino and another called Canestrino#1 which supposedly also tastes much better sauced than fresh.

So there you go.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 3:40PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I wanted to say that just like the rest of the posters in this thread, I do not peel my tomatoes before drying them. I find that the peel holds them together during the drying process. Sometimes when I am rehydrating, depending on what I do with them, I might discard the peel (they come off easily).

As far as what I dry, I also like principe Borghese. We did a (blind) taste test of several fresh ones we grew last year, and my partner picked principe for taste (I picked Carbon). Principe was drama-free and very productive for us last year. I am in southern California.

I think the taste is going to depend strongly on how well that tomato is doing for you this year in your garden. I love Black krim but Carbon TASTED better for us last year, Black Krim, which is supposed to taste better than Carbon, did not taste as good.

Other tomatoes I have dried well are the Stupice and the hybrid called Campari.

Brokenbar, thanks for sharing your tomato drying list! Opalka is the only one in your list that I have grown. It was good (really good flavor and also good in salads, not just paste), but produced a few tomatoes in the spring, then went dormant all the way until late fall. Right before we thought it was leaving us for good it gave us a few more tomatoes and died. Do you know if any of the tomatoes on your list are suitable for hot weather growing? I do not want to have my whole garden tied up with dormant tomatoes in the summer. I will grow stupice and principe again for drying, but I would not mind introducing some (slightly larger?) new ones.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 4:12PM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

Federle, Chinese, Denofrios German and Russo Sicilian Togeta, Leatha's Italian all do well in heat (I am originally from the CA desert and have many gardening friends there!)Also Costoluto Genovese (most of Italy is warmer than I am here.) If you are not already a member, get a membership to Seed Savers ( You will get a 500-600 page book (about three hundred pages are just tomatoes) This book has tomato seed offered by members (3.00 per packet I think) and you can see where they live in the description to better understand how a variety might do for you in your particular growing environment. THis is a worthy oprganization as well as they are preserving the heritage of heirloom varieties (they don't just have tomato listings but seeds are offered for peppers, beans, you name it.) With a membership you also have access to the online book. This is a way to get some really rare varieties from both the US as well as many other countries. I suggest you look at anything oxheart. They are nearly all paste varieties and usually get quite large. Plus...they are handsome!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 5:01PM
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I'm glad I found this thread, as the directions for my dehydrator say to blanch and peel tomatoes. Thought it sounded wrong.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 8:54PM
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We dried Toms for the first time a year ago, they came out with tiny white worms when we tried to use them. Needless to say we threw them out.
We would like to try again, but need to stop the worm problem which we think are fruit flies which we suffer with.
Anyone have an answer, apart from keep the flies off them?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:19AM
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I freeze my apples for a week after they've been dried. It's supposed to kill the eggs and larva.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 11:50AM
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