Using Dried Tomatoes and Peppers
See Drying Foods, your dehydrator manual, or an extension service site for how to dry vegetables. Solar drying is best used in dry climates, since you need a couple of days of sunlight for complete drying. Our tomato harvest begins in early August and peppers stay on the plant as late as possible to allow them to turn red, so our window for solar drying is brief: September through early October. We use a recycled terrarium we inherited from our folks. Our local extension service xeroxed copies of Pacific Northwest Extension Publication (#397) and University of Georgia Extension Service Bulletin #989 on drying fruits and vegetables. Solar dried vegetables should be pasteurized after drying to kill insects and their eggs.
Dehydrated vegetables are usually not used as cooked side dishes. They are best when
ingredients for soups, casseroles, sauces, stuffings, and stews. You may use various
combinations of dried vegetables, but be careful not to add too much dried onion or garlic. Water removed during drying must be replaced either by soaking, cooking, or a combination of
both. Dried tomatoes add a very nice, sometimes smokey flavor to stews and sauces. I use them even when canned tomatoes or sauce is called for. 'Principe Borghese,' a small, larger than cherry-sized Italian tomato, is especially good for drying and makes an an attractive patio pot plant.
Tomatoes do not need to be soaked or rehydrated, although some recipes call for it. Peppers are more fibrous and should be rehydrated. Table or slicing tomatoes can be sliced for drying. Paste or smaller tomatoes can be halved or quartered, depending on their size. The more moisture is removed, the faster they will dry. I prefer chopping tomatoes before adding to a dish; otherwise, they become stringy.
Deborah Madison, in The Savory Way, boils dried tomatoes in water, purees in a blender and stores them in the refrigerator, covered with oil.
Other root, stem and seed vegetables should be soaked for 1/2 to 2 hours in enough cold water to keep them covered. Speed up the rehydration process by boiling the water first.
Start with 1 to 1 1/2 cups water for each cup of vegetables. If necessary, add more
the soaking process.
Dried tomatoes can be powdered and used to make tomato sauces, paste or catsup.
Dried tomatoes can be used in place of canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato paste by adjusting the water-to-vegetable ratio. Just vary the amount of dried tomato and water you use to get the right consistency, then put in blender. See Hungarian Gulyas, Pistou Soup, Red Chile Sauce for examples.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Purdue Extension
Harvest Dehydrator instructions. Ask your extension agent for a copy of "Home Drying of
Foods," Ruth Klippstein, Katherine Humphrey, Info. Bull. #120 , a good source on drying fruits and vegetables.