Garden Friday – Sun (Oven) Dried Tomatoes
I left town this week for a 3-week trip to the inlaws. Of course, just as I was leaving, my tomatoes started to ripen all at once. What to do? I didn’t have enough to justify canning yet. I thought about picking them and putting them in the fridge – but I’m guessing I’ll come home to a lot of tomatoes. (Note to self, make sure you don’t plan anything on the 2nd day home because you will be canning!) So I decided to make sun-dried tomatoes from about 2 dozen grape and roma types.
Now, if I had been on top of this, I would have truly sun dried them (or car dried them… good idea for next time) which is far more sustainable with no energy use. But since it takes about 2 days with the sun (same process, just bring them in at night and cover with cheese-cloth to keep bugs out) and I only had this ‘crap, what am I going to do with these tomatoes?’ moment less than 24 hours before my flight, I decided to take the oven dried shortcut. (Apparently you can also use a dehydrator, but I don’t own one.)
You can make dried tomatoes from any type, but the more ‘pasty’ romas or cherries are probably easiest and have the least moisture content. Here are the steps:
1. Pick tomatoes, wash them, etc.
2. Cut tomatoes into fairly equal parts (they dry more evenly this way). I cut the small grapes into half, the smaller romas into quarters and the bigger romas into eighths.
3. Take out a cookie sheet and evenly lay out tomatoes on a piece of parchment paper or foil. Some people sprinkle with sea salt and/or basil. I just left them plain.
4. Stick in the oven on lowest setting (I got my convection down to 180 but most recipes seem to state 200 is ok) for 5 to 8 hours.
5. Store in airtight plastic bag. It seems you can easily get 9 months to a year in your freezer although you hear a lot of people say if you store in a dark, cool food storage room would be fine too. Some store in olive oil but most warn it should be refrigerated and used within a month or 2 because of botulism concerns.
So, now I have a nice bag of sun-dried tomatoes. The only question is how to cook with them? (I never purchase them because they are so expensive.) What is your favorite sun-dried tomato recipe?