Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tomato dehydrating update

Well, that crazy contraption actually worked. When I was putting it together, I felt like I should have been making a video of it, which would then be sped up and dubbed with some kooky music.

It worked quite well actually, considering the fact that it rained the first night I put it out, it rained all day the next day, and we've had a severe thunderstorm, a tornado warning, and two good frosts since then. I just left the tomatoes out there through it all. Part of me was expecting a big mess.

What I found was this:

Lovely sun-dried tomatoes. They taste like concentrated fresh tomato. The ones that were cut lengthwise didn't fare as well, or at least they need some more time. That makes sense though, since they've got more water to lose. I think I'll slice them the usual way next time though.

Best I can figure, here's what's going on: The corrugated metal acts as a radiant heat barrier to enhance the greenhouse effect under the glass. As the air between the ridges heats up, it flows upwards (due to the slope), carrying away the moisture and creating a convection current (with a key point being that the ridges run top-to-bottom rather than side to side). The screen insures good airflow between the corrugated metal and the black cloth. The black cloth protects the stuff you're drying from getting sun-bleached, and it also adds heat due to the black color. The south facing slope arrangement insures maximum sun exposure. The author of the original article claims this works better in humid climates than other sun-drying methods. I think under normal circumstances, things would dry much faster under appropriate weather conditions, but it's good to know that it works even in extremes.

I'll call this a success. I wish I'd tried it earlier in the year. It should be interesting to try it with some other garden goodies next year.

Labels: , ,


At 10/16/2006 8:06 PM, Blogger Beo said...

Congrats! Unfortunately I don't have a lot of corrugated roofing lying around the subdivision. Maybe on the next field stone run!

At 12/04/2008 5:37 PM, Blogger Jerry said...

Good stuff! I have a friend in Mexico who says that the field next door to her has piles of tomatoes which are not perfect, so they don't go to market-they just sit and rot! She wants to dry some and use them during the dry season when there are no tomatoes available.


Post a Comment

<< Home