The Shady Porch: Our Experiment with Smoke-Dried Tomatoes

8.05.2011

Our Experiment with Smoke-Dried Tomatoes


Smoke-dried Roma tomatoes by The Shady Porch
Early in the drying process.
Our tomatoes are finally turning red and, as planned, we tried the smoke-dried tomato idea I read about at Boggy Creek Farm. Of course, we had to adapt our process since Larry smokes his tomatoes for 3-5 days in an actual smokehouse...and we don't have a smokehouse (or the inclination to wait nearly a week).

Good news: we were successful in the drying process. We dried some Roma tomatoes, cut in half with the cut-side up. Initially, we put them on indirect heat in the gas grill, then we moved them to the smoker for a while and smoked them using hickory chips. Our smoker, called a 'bullet smoker' on the box (we always thought it was because of its tall, cylindrical shape), has no vents. Therefore, we could not regulate the heat, which is troublesome when you need to smoke-dry the tomatoes using "cool" heat which is 130-165°F.  Our smoker registered 700°F at one point!

Smoked chicken breasts & pork tenderloin by The Shady Porch
Smokin' chicken breasts & pork tenderloin
while we wait for the tomatoes to dry
(Not to waste the smoke or the heat, we threw a small tenderloin and a couple of chicken breasts on the grates. Given the heat we had created, the "bullet" produced its smoked goodness in about 2 hours...faster than a speeding....well, you get the idea.)

Meanwhile, back at the tomatoes... after 6-8 hours between the smoker and grill, our tomatoes were finished. This was our first attempt at drying tomatoes and I had never heard of smoking them until I found the Boggy Creek site. We were thrilled that our tomatoes looked just like Larry's did on the Boggy Creek website.

I wanted to taste one so I placed it in water to reconstitute it, and, when it plumped back up, I tasted it. Well, I did not like the flavor - which was strongly licorice-like - and I have to assume that the flavor is from the smoke process. It may be because we used hickory and Larry's website says they use oak for their smoke, so that could be our big boo-boo.

Smoke-dried Roma tomatoes by The Shady Porch
Smoke-dried Roma tomatoes
We plan to dry the future Roma harvest but skip the smoking. I can see that smoking is a great way to add flavor, but I think the art is in getting the right smoke for the right amount of time. I really don't want to discourage anyone from trying this; there is great potential in smoked-dried tomatoes.

I am going to order some of Larry's smoke-dried tomatoes so I can have a benchmark to work from. In other words, I'm not closing the book on smoke-dried tomatoes, just this chapter.

Happy Harvesting!