Onions and Tomatoes for Drying
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Danielle
Posted on: January 20, 2004

We’re organic commercial grower and we would like your professional advice. We grow, dehydrate and bottle on our farm culinary herbs and seasoning. We’re looking for the best onion to dry because it’s really mushy when mechanically cut and doesn’t dry well (maybe because of the sugar content).

a.. What would be your best onion choice?

There is an excellent production guide available online on growing onions for dehydration. We have added it to our website; you can access it at:

http://www.richters.com/link.cgi?linkno=227&cat=Crop%20Production

For the commercial production of dehydrated onion (for onion powder, for example) you should grow a variety that has a high solids content, at least 23% soluble solids. The variety should have white flesh and strong flavour. And, for northern regions above the 35th parallel, you want a long day variety that will bulb out when the days are longest. The Oregon State production guide recommends ‘Southport White Globe’ and varieties based on it. This is a variety that Richters is considering carrying in the next catalogue we would be happy to source organic seeds of this variety for you -- just let us know.

b.. How about a tomato to dry? What do you suggest?

Again, the solids content is important for choosing a variety to grow for drying. Of the many varieties of tomatoes available, an old one, the ‘Roma’ variety, is still the best for drying. Sundried tomatoes are typically make from this variety: the tomatoes are sliced in half and the seeds scraped out and the halves are placed in the sun, or now more commonly in the a dehydrator, to dry.

c.. What’s your best leaf dill?

The ‘Tetra’ variety is an excellent yielder, with good flavour. It is well suited for commercial leaf production.

d.. Do you have any tips with cumin (hard to transplant from plugs and to slow for direct seeding)?

Unfortunately, cumin is both slow to grow and intolerant of transplanting. Cumin is best sown directly where it is to grow. When transplanted it immediately bolts, producing very little seed, if any. You may find it worthwhile to use clear plastic to create a short term incubator effect to warm up the soil in spring so that you can sow a week or so earlier.

There are reports that cumin seeds are commonly infected with fungal pathogens. It might be a good idea to disinfect seeds with a weak bleach solution prior to planting. A 1% bleach solution (one part commercial bleach such as Javex to 4 parts water, plus one or a few drops of dishwashing detergent to make it easier to wet the seeds) can be used; soak the seeds for 20-30 minutes, then wash out the bleach with water and then dry. Hydrogen peroxide may work also.

I’m preparing my order and would like to get your answer as soon as possible please...

Bravo for your...

1.. Nufar fusarium resistant basil! We had amazing result last year on plastic mulch!! It simply was gigantic, very slow to bolt, almost disease free and big leaf size!

2.. Your rosemary germination rate was real good last year!

Glad to hear that you had such great results with our seeds!

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