Making sun-dried tomatoes in the oven
If you live in a cold climate like me, you will realise that making real "sun-dried" tomatoes is not an option. However, drying in the oven works just as well, and you can get fantastic results from this simple method. Sun-dried tomatoes are quite expensive in the shops, so it is really worthwhile to make a few jars for later in the season if you have a glut of home-grown tomatoes.
What you will need
Lots of small ripe tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, seasoning as required (garlic, chillis, fresh herbs)
Baking trays, baking parchment, sterilised jam jars
Rinse tomatoes and drain in a colander. If using small or cherry tomatoes, you simply need to slice them in half and lay out, skin side down, on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Larger tomatoes will need slicing into smaller segments, and having some of the pulpy seedy stuff scooped out from inside.
For the basic recipe, sprinkle the tomatoes with a little sea salt, and drizzle very lightly with olive oil.
Alternatively, for flavoured tomatoes, you could crush some garlic, chop some suitable herbs such as oregano or basil, or finely chop some fresh chilli and mix these with the olive oil before drizzling over the tomatoes.
Fill up as many baking trays as you can fit in your oven, to make it more economical, then put them in to dry on the very lowest setting that you can put your oven on - between 50 to 100 degrees centigrade. It takes around 7 to 8 hours to dry them out, maybe a little longer for larger or thicker tomatoes.
Keep an eye on them, checking from time to time, swapping around the trays on the shelves to ensure even drying and, particularly in the last couple of hours, making sure they are not browning at all.
When dried correctly they should still be dark red, and be dry to the touch but still "squidgy". If they are crispy or brown, they are overdone.
Wash and sterilise enough jars to hold your tomatoes (they do shrink quite a lot when dried, so you shouldn't need too many). Sterilising can be done in the oven or a dishwasher.
Fill the jars to the top with dried tomatoes, and cover completely with olive oil before sealing the jar.
They will keep for two months like this, so long as they are stored in a cool place.
They not only look beautiful, but taste fantastic too!
Ways to serve sun-dried tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes have a wonderful intensely sweet flavour, and can be served in any number of ways. They can be:
- eaten neat from the jar as a savoury snack
- used in quiches, omelettes or on top of pizzas
- served with a salad
- used in stuffed vegetable dishes
- great in all sorts of Italian pasta and Mediterranean dishes
- serve as a cracker topping with feta cheese
See also ...
- The best ways to preserve tomatoes: techniques and r...
Making the most of your home-grown tomatoes: a guide to cooking and preserving tomatoes for use all year round, with some useful recipes.
© 2013 Imogen French
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