Tomatoes are a gift of summer. Finding myself with more Romas than I could use fresh, I decided to dry them.
In the past, I've sun dried tomatoes, leaving them outside in the bright sun all day, but it usually takes more than one day and that means bringing them inside at night and dragging them back out the next day.
I've also dried them in a dehydrator, but that appliance heats up the kitchen too much.
So this time I dried them in a 200 degree F. oven for six hours.
It's very easy. Half the tomatoes, no peeling necessary. Scoop out the seeds.
Sprinkle with a little salt and turn them skin side up to pull out as much moisture as possible. It's best to do this on a rack in the sink so there's no clean-up.
Toss them with olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper and fresh herbs (I used basil). Dried herbs also will work.
Place tomatoes on a cake cooling rack set on a pan lined with parchment paper. Any pan will do, and parchment is not absolutely necessary; it just makes for easy clean-up.
Leave them in the oven for at least six hours. Mine required a bit more time -- another hour. For the last hour I turned them over to ensure both sides were relatively dry.
They will be leathery, which is ideal. You don't want them to become crispy.
At this point you can either freeze them, or do as I did and place them in a jar, layered with more fresh herbs and covered with olive oil.
These are so good chopped into salads or tossed into the cooking pot when making spaghetti sauce or chili. They have an intense "tomato-ey" taste, much stronger even than tomato paste.
Now it seems to me I've read somewhere it's not safe to leave garlic infused oil outside the refrigerator, so I'll refrigerate. That will ruin the looks of it, as the oil congeals. But I'll simply take out what I'm going to use and bring it to room temperature and the oil will melt for use in salads.
If you've bought sun-dried tomatos, you know that they're quite pricey. I'm not one totally into preserving food, but with an abundance of tomatoes on hand, and for the little effort required, it made good sense to dry tomatoes for later use.
Next up: salsa. Another easy thing to make with tomatoes. Just chop everything up and store in the refrigerator. No jar processing for me. With the acidic of the tomatoes and added vinegar, it will last for weeks in the refrigerator.
Are you a big tomato fan? If so, how do you eat yours?