This weekend I took the opportunity to start trying to process some of our tons of tomatoes to be used at a later date, and I started by drying some tomatoes.I haven’t tasted them yet, but this should yield a similar result to the sun-dried tomatoes I pay $3 or more a cup for at the store. Here’s hoping!
Here’s the finished product!
Making actual sun-dried tomatoes would require four days of 90-degree weather or hotter, something that is common in the Mediterranean and probably in most of the US, but we’re in Oregon, so 90 is no guarantee any month of the year. Given that this is the single time that has actually been a problem… I’m willing to overlook it.
The recipe that I loosely followed is from Preserve It!, a book I blogged about a little bit ago. Here’s what you need to make “sun-dried” tomatoes at home.
- About 4 lbs. of tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Any dried spices you may wish to add – oregano, red pepper flakes, etc.
- 1 cup of olive oil plus a little for topping off the jar
- 3 tablespoons of red or white wine vinegar
Start by washing and coring all of your tomatoes, then cut them up into quarters (or halves, for the little ones).
Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Score your tomatoes in an “X” shape so you can use your thumb to turn them inside out, so no part of the tomato is more than half an inch thick. Place each tomato on the rack, trying not to let them touch each other (they will stick later).
Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, and then turn them over (seed side down) on the rack and let the moisture seep out for an hour or so.
When you are ready to start drying them, turn them back over and season with the pepper, sugar, and any herbs you would like to add. Set your oven for 200 degrees and put the tray on the middle rack. Dry for a full 8 hours (it can be overnight, but make sure you get up around 8 hours after you put them in! Otherwise you will have something that once was tomatoes but now is… gross). The texture you are looking for will still be pretty flexible.
Ooohh.. yummy. How about one more for good measure?
Once you are up and the tomatoes are dry, sterilize a glass container to keep them in by boiling the jar, the lid and the ring in water for five minutes. Keep them in the hot water until you are ready to use them. This is not truly canning, so you won’t be heat processing them, but you do want it to be as sterile as possible anyway.
While you’re sterilizing, boil the olive oil, vinegar and some pepper flakes. Once you’ve brought the mixture to a boil, turn off the heat and let it cool a little, but not all the way.
VERY IMPORTANT: Glass will crack when it is exposed to things of different temperatures. Try to make sure that when you are putting the oil mixture in the jar, they are about the same temperature. Then when you’ve filled it, let it cool down COMPLETELY before putting it in the fridge.
When your jar is sterilized and has cooled just enough that you can handle it, pack the tomatoes in it fairly tightly. Then pour in the oil mixture. If the oil mixture doesn’t completely cover the tomatoes, top it off with a little more oil. Then, add the lid and wait for it to cool before refrigerating.
Kept refrigerated, these will keep for 2-3 weeks. I can’t wait to start using them!