Jul 6, 2023
Tomatoes are great crops to grow; they can yield many in a season. It’s one of the vegetables with the most intense flavor that some couldn’t get enough of. Here’s how to freeze-dry them if you don’t have room in your fridge and want to keep them longer
The best tomatoes to freeze dry are the ones you picked from your garden. Store-bought tomatoes are good, but they were picked raw. This means they ripened along the way so they don’t have that deep sweet flavor. Vine-ripe tomatoes ripen with natural sugars, giving them a layer of flavor that’s perfect for almost anything. So, if you’re fresh out of vine-ripe tomatoes and got store-bought ones, It’s okay. But if you want intense flavor, go for vine-ripened ones.
Also, don’t choose green tomatoes. These are tougher and have more of a tart flavor than sweet. Freeze drying intensifies the flavor your vegetable has at that moment. Don’t go green unless you’re planning to make tons and tons of green pureed salsa in the future.
Choose only tomatoes that smell like tomatoes. Some tomatoes past their time have this putrid smell and a sourness that doesn’t sit right on the tongue. So, when you doubt your tomatoes, don’t use them to be on the safe side.
For garden tomatoes, getting perfect ones can be a challenge. If you’re making freeze-dried tomato slices, go for perfect ones as much as possible. Same goes for sauces if you could. But if you have too many in your hands to take care of, you can be impartial. They probably won’t taste as great, though, but no judgment here when it comes to lessening food waste.
Once you get your tomatoes, wash them well to remove the surface dirt and remove the green tops left from the stem. If you got garden tomatoes that have got imperfections from insects like hornworms just cut them out. If it goes too deep, discard that tomato because the flavor’s already affected.
When your tomatoes are picked and trimmed, you can slice or dice them. This helps expose the flesh of the tomatoes and prime them for freeze-drying. Just like grapes, tomatoes have a layer of skin that prevents moisture from coming in or out. You’ll be helping your machine do its job by cutting or dicing.
The slices should be no thicker than the top of the tray. As a general rule, the wider the slices, the longer it will take to freeze dry. No need to de-seed them like you would grapefruit and watermelon because the seeds are pretty small.
You can also pre-season them for added flavor. Then, sprinkle your favorite powdered seasoning on top, which will be great for snacking.
It will take a bit more time to prep if you want to make freeze-dried tomato sauce. You can cut the tomatoes into small pieces and then cook them in a large soup pot.
You can use any tomato sauce recipe, even your secret recipe. Don’t use too much oil, though, because fat doesn’t freeze dry well.
To make things easier, using an immersion blender to puree your tomatoes is better. Less time consuming, less messy, and less clean up afterward. Once you’ve got the initial cook of the tomatoes, buzz them with your immersion blender, then cook them down again.
To get the best results, you need to reduce it more than you normally would. This is because the consistency needs to be a little thicker. The reduction could be up to 1/5 of the original volume or 1/4. The thicker the sauce, the better.
Pre-freezing the vegetable is necessary. The tomatoes have high water content and can extend the freeze-drying time. Whether they’re slices or sauce, pre-freezing can help with the process. Pre-freeze them on the freeze dryer tray so you don’t have to worry about transferring them.
You may or may not use parchment paper for the tomato slices. They don’t stick to the tray much. But if you see that your tomatoes are watery, parchment paper can help prevent them from sticking.
For sauces, many find that they don’t need silicone mats. They easily lift out of the tray, especially if you put in a bit of oil in the sauce. Fill up the trays about a third of an inch below the lip. Don’t fill the tray to the brim because there’s a tendency to overflow.
Once you’ve prepared the tomatoes, it’s time to start freeze-drying. We got the best
Freeze-drying tomatoes can take up to 24 hours for slices. This doesn’t count the pre-freezing process in your freezer. For the sauce, it can take 24-36 hours, depending on how runny your sauce is. The outside temperature where your freeze dryer’s located can also affect the dry time.
The tomatoes should have a dry, crumbly texture. They should snap in half or turn into powder when you pinch them. The same goes with the tomato sauce. There’s going to be some bubbling action, similar to what you get from oranges, but not too much. Some say it’s because of the sugar, and some say it’s because of the citric acid.
You have to act fast with storing them. Compared to other vegetables, freeze-dried tomatoes are so water-loving. Get them inside Mylar bags or Mason Jars with oxygen absorbers to preserve them long-term.
For the sauces, you can break them apart into big squares for storage. This way, they would fit inside your bags or jars. Vacuum seal as well for added measure.
The taste is like an intense explosion of tomato flavor. This is especially true for tomato sauce because the freeze dryer removed all the water from it.
You can reconstitute the slices by adding enough water to cover them. However, not many are fans of reconstituted freeze-dried tomatoes, though.
As for the soup or sauce, you can reconstitute by weight. Then follow a 1:4 (sauce: water) ratio, which will also depend on how concentrated your sauce is.
What kind of tomatoes are you freeze-drying? Let us know in the comment section.
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