My youngest son wanted to grow tomatoes this year, so we have two plants in our garden. With the very wet spring we had, the plants did well and are now producing lots of fruit—more than we eat. I don’t eat raw tomatoes at all and while the rest of the family does eat them, they don’t eat a lot. I’ve given away some, but many people have their own plants or a neighbor who does. That left me thinking about how I could use the tomatoes. I didn’t want to get into canning or really anything that was a lot of work. I settled on trying to make sun dried tomatoes.
I’ll let you in on a secret right away—they were not dried in the sun, but in my oven. If you have a dehydrator that’s even better. Despite the fact that it was a hot August day, I didn’t notice the oven being on all day (about 9 hours) because it was set at 200 degrees. I’m sure it made some difference in the house, but it wasn’t noticeable.
Since I’m not a big tomato eater, I have never eaten sun dried tomatoes. Therefore, I’m not exactly sure what they are supposed to be like. I’m hoping I have dried them enough. I read instructions at several sites, all of which differed slightly, and ended up doing the following.
First, I cut the tomatoes in half, removed the stem part, and took out the seeds. I used my finger to scoop out the seeds and the liquidy part they are in.
Next, I cut the tomatoes in half again, cutting parallel to the last cut. This left me with slices that were about 3/4 inch thick. I then removed more seeds that the second cut exposed.
Then I laid the slices on cookie sheets that were sprayed with non-stick spray. I lightly brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. For some, I added garlic powder and dried basil to the oil.
Finally, I baked the trays at 200 degrees for about 9 hours. After about 7 hours I started removing some of the smallest pieces and I kept an eye on them over the next two hours, removing pieces as they were done. By done I mean that they looked sufficiently shrunk and darkened, but not black. I expected them to be more dry, but that might be because of the oil.
I stored the tomatoes in a zip lock freezer bag. I removed most of the air by using a straw, and placed the bag in the freezer so we can enjoy tomatoes later in the year.
If you’re a fan of sun dried tomatoes, I’d love to hear from you. Have you made them yourself? What is your favorite use for them?