(I have a sneaking suspicion I've asked this question before, but a thorough search of this site turned up nothing. So please forgive me if you've already answered this question! )
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
I ran across this article trying to figure out how to use mine also, if you do some digging in ehow you might find out more .. hope this helps. Maureen
I do oven dried tomatoes overnight in gas oven I put oven on 400 tunit off and leave halfed plum tomatoes all night, Oven also has gas pilot.
One point to keep in mind is the end use of the dried products.
Food undergoes permanent cellular change at 165F. That's the point that differentiates drying from cooking.
In practice, this means any food you dry that's going to be rehydrated, should be done at temperatures lower than 165F. This is one reason why dehydrators work better than stoves---few of which, nowadays, operate that low. Most commercial dehydrators have thermostats, on the other hand, so you can work at lower temps.
So, for instance, if you want to dry thin potatoe slices to chip-like consistency, the higher temperature doesn't matter. But if you want to dry assorted veggies that will later get reconsituted as part of a soup, it does.
Or, take Ed's oven-dried tomatoes. Despite the fast start, what's actually happening is that the pilot is maintaining a low temperature that actually dries the tomato halves. They never reach the critical 165F point.
BTW, technically, food preserved by drying means the moisture content is 7% or less.
Generally speaking, when drying as a preservation method, slower is better. I rarely work higher than 115F, for instance.
Don't try my tomato method on pilot with all things vege. Keep in mind tomatoes are high acid and resist going bad, other veges don't in particular if you don't get enough moisture out.