rack for oven drying tomatoes?

marthacr(z5 Me)September 28, 2008

I want to dry some tomatoes today in the oven, but I don't have a good rack. Is there anything that you have used that could substitute? My cookie racks are the stacking kind and the wire is far apart. Can I use cookie sheets sprayed with olive oil?

Thanks,

Martha

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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

You use a piece of window screen (the teflon black kind) across the oven racks. If you are drying at higher than 150 use metal screen. A small roll of either is pretty cheap.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 9:37AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It needs holes in it for air circulation. A cookie sheet with oil on it will just fry the tomatoes.

The metal screens work great or you can make one out of multiple layers of foil folded together with holes poked in it. Or you can buy one of the perforated cooking sheets they make for cooking small items on the grill. They also make pizza pans full of holes for baking pizza that will work.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 9:53AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

Before I bought my Excalibur dehydrator, I always used a stainless steel rack. It's made up of long rods about 1/4 inch apart, is a bit smaller than the oven size, and has small legs on it.

I think my stove came with it for using in the bun warmer part below. It has been a nice addition to my kitchen hardware, especially for use to cool recently baked sour dough breads, or cakes, etc.

Because it is stainless, I don't worry about the metal factor contact with food (tomatoes, fruits, etc.). I learned this especially when drying lemon salt awhile back - when I used a piepan - ugh. I now prefer a Pyrex baking dish for that.

Avoid aluminums for acid cooking anyway.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 11:01AM
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marthacr(z5 Me)

Do you use the cherry toms that have split on the plant? Seems they would still be good to dry.
Martha

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 11:23AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No, it isn't recommended. If they have split then bacteria has easy direct access to the inside of the fruit. On large tomatoes you can usually cut away sufficient meat to insure some safety but that doesn't work with cherry varieties.

Dave

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 12:49PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Ovens will not go low enough in temperature. Its also going to need air movement which would require having the door open and a fan blowing inside for about 1-2 days or more. Its obvioulsy not going to do a good job in dehydrating in an open oven. A device made for this is much easier to deal with. I have two Ronco round units I bought years ago, and they still work great. Keep in mind that the quicker you dry things, the more flavor they will have. Suggest that you do not use any oils, as they can get rancid in no time and will still adhere to the dried toms. Nesco dehydrators and other brands are great for drying things. Many here have dried not only tomatoes, but peppers, fruits, jerky, and many other things.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 3:29PM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

I agree that oven dryng is the least desirable method. I have electric so only goes down to 200 which is much to high, especially with no fan. Maybe someone else on here has used oven drying and can give advice? For next year you need to get a small inexpensive dehydrator. Sometimes, if you put a "wanted" ad in the local mini paper, you will get a lot of resposne. That's how I got my used commercial dehdrator.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 4:12PM
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marthacr(z5 Me)

I used the aluminum foil with holes poked in it. I have a convection oven, so the fan is already there. It took about 6 hrs which is what I expected. Next year I will either use a small dehydrator or make a rack to do it in the sun in my hot greenhouse.
Thanks everyine,
Martha

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 4:42PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

If you do have it outside, be sure its kept away from bugs and has a nice fan blowing the air around. I have a big 20 inch floor fan in my greenhouse, that is now on to dry out my recently harvested onions. I made a 2x4 foot wood frame with 1/4 inch screening. Its only used to cure garlic and other root crops, so the dirt will rub right off.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:43PM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

Yes...gnats in particular love sun-dried tomatoes. I think it is because they are sweet. I always have a cloud of them around my solar dehydrator. This year, I committed gnat-o-cide by hanging a mosquito light near there. Wiped them out pretty fast.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 6:36PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Gnats are also trapped in horizontal yellow sticky traps. I use these small 4x6 inch cards indoors if I see a single fungus gnat. Outside, I have applied beneficial nematodes to all my garden soil area, and these last a lifetime in reducing the gnat and their maggot damages.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 1:23PM
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CA Kate

ksrogers: my new Thermador oven has a setting for drying foods. I haven't used it since I already have a big dehydrator.

I've had real bad luck trying to dry fruits/vegetables outdoors. I'm not fond of dried fruit with a coating of dried gnats.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 1:02AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

Last year (before dehydrator) I sun-dried some tomatoes on a black slab (used for cabinet tops), that my son sometimes used for woodworking.

I placed a tent screen over them, and kept the bugs away with a small clamp-on fan, to blow above it. This little beauty is also used for keeping gnats away from seedlings under my grow lights, and air circulation to prevent damping off.

This year tho - the drying weather came late for tomatoes, and I agree, I appreciated having the indoor dehydrator, especially for harvesting and drying small amounts from my small garden.

Whenever possible, however, I used a makeshift outdoor dryer, that I made - butterflying two window screens together, and attaching it outside my kitchen window, then clamping the small fan to the window sill to distract bugs. This worked fine when the sun was there - but not too efficient on foggy days. Some onions and nuts dried successfully there over time.

Bejay

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 8:11AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

VT. Country store now sells dried cantaloupe. They dip in sugar, water, ascorbic acid, and then dry it. Those inexpensive yellow sticky traps work great. They remain sticky. As I mentioned, I don't like seeing any gnats in my newly started seedings in spring, so the traps are a nice way to monitor the activity too. Within a minute or two, they can catch several, which tells me the plants need a Bt treatment to kill of the damaging maggots they produce.

I have a small toaster oven that bakes by convection too, its got a dehydrate setting, but it seems to get just beyond 'ouch' point, which to me is over 160 degrees. One year, I dried about 2 bushels of sweet green and red peppers. It did take a week or more, as both units were fully loaded, and had to run two batches through. These are done in the Ronco unit, which has no fan, but has a low temp ring heater at the bottom. It never gets any hotter there above 150 degrees, and uses simple air movement through the bottom below the heater. Only issue is I must rotate the round trays about 1-2 times per day, then rotate/restack the top trays back to the bottom area.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 1:30PM
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