Sun-dried tomatoes – from the oven?
Enjoy summer's bounty through the winter with a time-saving technique for preserving tomatoes.
Summer has waned, but you won’t have to do without tomatoes this winter if you catch the last harvest and dry some. Of all the methods for preserving tomatoes, drying them is the least fussy. Plus, drying preserves their sweetness and flavor best. And these flavorful little gems cost so little when made at home, it’s worth the time they need to achieve that chewy, raisin-like texture.
Use any type of tomato. The only difference it makes is in the drying time because naturally, bigger, thicker tomatoes take longer than small ones. I like to buy several varieties and colors of tomatoes and dry them at one go, in the oven. It's tempting to prematurely devour those tiny little sweeties, hot and sweet/salty and pungent with good olive oil as they are, spread on crackers.
If drying several kinds seems like too much, use only one kind of tomato. Depending on the thickness of the fruit and the oven heat, you’ll need between 3 and 8 hours. Tiny cherry tomatoes, like the ones in the photograph above, only need 3 hours. The bigger tomatoes need 4, 6 or even 8 hours’ drying. You can confidently let big Roma tomatoes dry overnight (8 hours) – if you get up early.
One thing I can guarantee is the appetizing fragrance in your house of tomatoes slowly roasting to dried perfection, especially if you choose to season them with garlic salt and herbs before slipping them into the oven. In the meantime, think of all the tomato breads, salads, pizzas, pestos and sauces you'll be able to make once they're done.
This is one of the very few times I prefer garlic salt to season anything. I also prefer to add herbs to the dried tomatoes once they’re packed in oil, rather than adding herbs before drying.
Below I'll include directions for making both oven-dried and sun-dried tomatoes. Should there be enough sun where you live, the latter may be a good choice.
- 5 pounds fresh tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- More olive oil for packing into a jar, if desired
- Fresh herbs for seasoning, if desired
For oven-drying tomatoes:
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Set the oven for 200°F (95°C).
Halve the tomatoes. Here's a nifty hack for slicing lots of tomatoes at once:
Place halved tomatoes on a baking sheet.
Blend salt, pepper, and garlic salt in a small bowl.
Sprinkle tomatoes with the dry seasonings, generously.
Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.
Roast until the tomatoes are leathery and shriveled, with crisp edges.
Cool thoroughly and pack in olive oil to cover in a very clean, very dry jar.
Add an optional sprig of rosemary, thyme or oregano, or basil leaves. If you love heat, add a small chili pepper to the jar.
Store in the refrigerator. The tomatoes will keep up to six months.
For sun-drying tomatoes:
Assemble a baking sheet or other flat surface with a rack on top.
Place a sheet of mesh over the rack and spread the halved, seasoned tomatoes on the mesh. (The trick is to keep air circulating around the fruit, and flies off.)
Cover the tomatoes with another mesh sheet and clip the corners down with clothespins so that the breeze won’t lift it and let insects in.
Place the whole contraption in a very sunny spot. You’ll need to move the tomatoes indoors before the dew falls each evening, then take them outdoors again when the sun is full on them. Then it’s a matter of waiting 4-10 days, until the sun has dried the fruit to your satisfaction.
Related Topics: Vegetarian