Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Dry Tomatoes

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.
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 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?

18 comments:

  1. Oh, tomatoes! I grew them in Salt Lake City and ate them off the vine like apples. Nothing like homegrown tomatoes! Which are nearly impossible in the weather here in NE England (though I keep trying). I eat nothing but insalata caprese when we're on the Continent in summer. I have to confess to only having bought the sundried variety once or twice when feeling flush. The price puts this tightwad off. And I'm not sure about the cost of having the oven on for 6 hours - I think I'd have to have a baking programme lined up to go along with that! I might look into a dehydrator (as heating my kitchen would be a blessing), only I'm not sure what else I'd use it for. I like my fruit as it comes for the most part. Still, I'm glad your tomatoes turned out so well - they will no doubt be delicious!

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    1. I wish greenhouse tomatoes tasted the same as summer tomatoes. I find the cherry/grape tomatoes taste more like vine-ripened so that's what I buy during the tomato off season. The price of store bought sun dried ones put me off too! I know the oven gobbles up a certain amount of electricity but at 200F, perhaps not too much.

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  2. Hi Sanda,
    I love tomatoes. I use them all year around.
    I am not into preserves. But yours look wonderful.
    As we have so many here all year around. I like to use them in my salads ,or sandwiches.
    Wishing you happy days of summer.
    val xx

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    1. When tomatoes are in season I want to eat a tomato sandwich every day for lunch. Sliced cucumber, onion and lemon pepper seasoning make a great addition to the mayo and bread. Some people swear that white bread is best on tomato sandwiches, but quite frankly I never buy the stuff. Tastes like cotton (our American variety of sliced bread in a plastic bag).

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  3. Finnish summer tomatoes- straight from the greenhouse are the best.
    We do get Finnish ones throughout the year, but winter tomatoes don´t taste the same. A lot of them are imported too.
    Yes I like them as such, also as the above blogger mentioned.
    If you get so plenty of them, it makes sense in drying them.
    But that needs motivation, which I lack, so the few times I eat sun dried ones, I ( T ) buys them.
    I admire your enthusiasm in kitchen and garden.

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    1. If only you knew how my enthusiasm comes and goes. I get spurts of energy to do these type of things and then I languish for days.... Of course, I never blog about my unproductive days! haha

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  4. Tomatoes....my very favorite thing in all the world to eat!!!! These are sooo pretty and red. The salsa we made at Mother's is great!!!!! I can eat it everyday.

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    1. That salsa was good, that is, until my hand started burning from the chopped jalapenos! I should have known better than to chop them without plastic gloves. Enjoy your tomato lunch today!

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  5. The dried tomatoes look as if they have worked out really well. I love tomatoes - today I am making a tomato and red pepper tart with eggs and cheese to eat with salad.

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    1. Love tarts and quiches. I haven't made one with the fresh tomatoes this year, but that's a great idea. If there's one thing I miss about my vegetarian regiman it's bacon, which I love to use on quiche.

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  6. I eat them straight off the vine,still warm from the sun delicious,our crop will be ready in about 10 days,HB planted less this year as we had a glut,the postman went off with pounds for himself/neighbours + anyone else that visited last year,hope they are not expecting the same again this time!!
    I use them in salads,watermelon & tomato is quick easy,if eating alone 6 small toms. + slice bread is a treat.

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    1. Sounds as if you enjoy the tomato sandwiches as well. Some people place tomatoes in the refrigerator, which really does spoil the taste. Your neighbors are going to be lined up with their baskets, expecting the same this year as last!

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  7. I love tomatos, and eat them daily, usually fresh in salad for lunch. But I had no idea you could make sun-dried tomatos at home. They look absolutely delicious, and probably taste better than store-bough, (which are pricey, and I rarely buy them.) Unfortunately I have never managed to grow tomatos, despite many attempts. Our garden is not really suitable.

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    1. I tried the dried tomatoes yesterday; chopped a few into a pasta dish and the flavor really was intense; next best thing to fresh and sliced. I'm sorry you can't grow them in your climate, but we can't have it all, can we!

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  8. If we could only grow one veggie my choice would be tomatoes. DH does grow them but they are a bit tricky as we often have summer fog and seldom really hot days. We eat the ones we have fresh. If I every had an abundance I'd like to try your method of drying and keeping them.

    Darla

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    1. Tomatoes do grow well here because of the long and sunny summers. Even non gardeners plant at least one plant, even if in a large pot or among the flowers.

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  9. I love sun dried tomatoes. I add them to pasta sauces, risottos, salads as well as home made pizza sauces and they really add that intense and complex tomato flavour no fresh tomato can give. Thanks for your recipe, I've seen other recipes but none suggested adding olive oil and seasoning to the fresh tomatoes before drying them.

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    1. Agree with you on the complexity of taste they add. Yes the oil and herbs are a nice addition. And welcome back! Have missed seeing you thoughtful comments here and elsewhere.

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