Jul 6, 2023
“Just add water” is the gist of reconstituting dried tomatoes, whether freeze-dried, sun, or oven-dried.
But is it really that simple to reconstitute dried tomatoes?
Well, it isn’t. It’s more of a process of trial and error since not all dried tomatoes underwent the same procedure of removing moisture. Now, instead of going through the motions and probably wasting a lot of good, dried tomatoes, let’s do away with the trial and error part.
Before we get started, keep in mind that those dried tomatoes won’t magically look, taste, and smell like fresh, juicy, and garden-picked tomatoes. Also, some of the nutrients contained in the water that has been dried off are gone.
When taken off the pack, some dried tomatoes will look like wrinkly, stiff cardboard cutouts. Not appetizing to look at, but that changes once you rehydrate these properly.
Still, you do get tomatoes which are still great long after their shelf life has passed the months or even years of expiration. Most tomatoes sold in groceries are only good for about a week.
That’s the great thing about dried tomatoes; you can still add them to your stews and sauces after a very long time.
Perhaps the best around, freeze-dried tomatoes are hard to beat. These retain almost the same flavor
and, if adequately preserved, have a longer shelf life. In fact, freeze-dried food can last up to 25 to 30 years when properly stored.
Tomatoes that have undergone freeze-drying have a higher nutrient value than other methods. Why? Because, unlike other methods, heat is not involved. When used in removing moisture content, heating destroys a considerable amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin A in almost all foods.
Tomatoes are dehydrated in several ways. One method uses an electric dehydrator, which has a lesser power consumption than a freeze drier and is quieter. It is also Less bulky and uses less space. Now, this info might be of great importance to those who wish to dry their tomatoes.
The optimum heat for dehydration is 115-150 degrees F. However, more nutrients are lost, and the shelf life of tomatoes is lessened.
Most dehydrated tomatoes sold are often produced in commercial-sized ovens. A household oven can also deliver the same results as the DIY type. The obvious advantage here is that anyone with an oven in the kitchen can do it.
However, as with other methods which involve heat dehydrating, shelf life is not as long compared to freeze-drying.
Used since the times long before ovens and other electrical appliances, this is the most common method of drying tomatoes. Anyone can do it, it is easy, and it is environmentally friendly too.
There are a few issues, though. The tomatoes are not only exposed to the sun but also to humidity, insects, dust, grime, and other pollutants. It also takes practice and experience to get the tomatoes dried correctly.
It depends on the kind of tomato. For example, cherry tomatoes take less water, while other varieties take more. So, how much water do you need then?
Here’s a simple method, and it is effortless to do.
Get a large bowl and fill it with warm water. The amount of water needed depends on the size of the bowl.
Now, here’s the most important part:
Grab a handful of dried tomatoes and let them float in the bowl. Do not crowd or fill the bowl with dried tomatoes; make sure there is enough room for these to absorb water. Most folks make the mistake of cramming as many tomatoes in a bowl. By doing so, most of these won’t absorb enough water.
Another essential thing to consider is the length of time the tomatoes are soaked. In fact, this is more important than how much water is used to rehydrate the tomatoes. Depending on the kind of tomatoes and the method used in drying these, it takes between 15-30 minutes.
Pick up a slice after having soaked these for 15 or so minutes. If this piece is soft, pliable yet firm enough, and feels like a piece of sliced ham in your hands, you’ve got it right.
Some prefer the dried tomatoes have a much softer consistency for soups and casseroles. They can soak the dried batch a bit longer to reduce the cooking time for the dish they intend to cook.
Some would use wine instead of warm water, while others would baste the dried tomato slices with olive oil.
Hopefully, these few tips and added bonus info have helped you learn a thing or two about reconstituting dried tomatoes.