Monday, August 13, 2012

How To: Making Oven-Dried Tomatoes

This summer we planted 6 tomato plants, and they're starting to give fruit!  We can't eat all of the fresh tomatoes in time, so we've decided to make some sun-dried tomatoes, but in the oven.  It is possible to actually sun-dry them, but I like to do them in the oven.  It does take a long time for them to dry out completely, but in terms of actual work involved, it's really, really, simple and the flavour is incredible. 

- Any quantity of tomatoes, washed, dried and cut into quarters or eighths with the stems removed.  Keep in mind that the tomatoes will shrivel to about 1/4 of their original size, so decide what's right for you.  I don't seed them, but you can if you prefer them that way.
- Enough olive oil to lightly coat the tomatoes
-Sprinkle of salt
-Optional sprinkling of dried herbs, like basil

1- Preheat oven to 200F.  I've tried it at higher heat, and found that the tomatoes are more likely to burn.
2- Prepare the tomatoes, toss with a small amount of oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs if desired.
3- Arrange the tomato slices on a lined baking sheet or on wire trays on top of baking sheets and place in the oven.
4- Check the progress of the tomatoes hourly.  If laying directly on baking sheet, turn the tomatoes occasionally to allow for even air flow.
5- Remove from oven when shriveled, and juice no longer flows from tomatoes when pressed, but before they are tough and leathery.  In my experience, this usually takes about 5 hours. 

Let cool and then package accordingly.  If you're going to eat them within a week, just refrigerate.  I froze mine in zip lock bags.  Lie flat until frozen, and then the individual tomatoes won't stick together.  Label with the date; they should be good for at least 6 months.

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