Making your own sun-dried tomatoes is very simple and certainly is much less expensive than purchasing them at the grocery store. Of course unless you live is a very hot sunny climate they are not technically going to be “sun” dried. Instead I am going to give you instructions on drying tomatoes in your food dehydrator or oven, this method is actually easier and more consistent than actual sun-drying.
The first thing is to pick the correct tomatoes, you want small meaty tomatoes for drying. The traditional drying variety is Principe Borghese, but you can also use plum or Roma tomatoes, which are much more readily available to those that do not grow their own tomatoes or start their own plants from seed.
Next you will need to prepare your tomatoes for drying, cut the smaller fruits, such as cherry type tomatoes and the smaller Italian varieties in half. The larger tomatoes will need to be cut into ½ inch slices. Drain your tomatoes slightly on paper towels and then place on the racks of your dehydrator, leaving enough space between the pieces for the air to circulate. To dry tomatoes in your dehydrator may take from 8 to 16 hours, depending on the thickness of your slices.
It may help to rotate the trays if you have more than one in the dehydrator. To oven dry, place your tomatoes by putting them in single layers on wire racks or foil lined cookie sheets. Your oven temperature should be between 140 and 150 degrees, this works well in a gas oven with a pilot light, or if using an electric oven, set temperature on warm and prop the door open slightly. Oven drying will take from 10 to 24 hours, again if need be rotate your cookie sheets or racks.
When the tomatoes are dried they should be leathery but pliable, but non-sticky. Rather in texture like a raisin. Do not over dry.
To store your tomatoes, let them cool completely, then put them in ziplock bags or glass jars with an airtight lid. They will keep this way for up to 6 months. If wanting longer storage, put them in the freezer.
To rehydrate your tomatoes if need be, soak them for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water, broth, or wine to cover.
To store your tomatoes in oil, you will first need to rehydrate your tomatoes slightly, just until plump but still chewy. Dip them in either wine or distilled vinegar, then pack them in a jar with olive oil and some herbs such as, thyme or oregano, and some sliced garlic. Allow this to sit at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours. Then place them in the refrigerator.
Here are several recipes using sundried tomatoes.
SALMON BAKED WITH BASIL AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks (use both the white and some of the green parts)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dried tomatoes snipped into thin strips
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
pinch of ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons lemon juice or dry white wine
4 salmon fillets
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 425. In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute the leeks and garlic over low heat until they are soft. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, nutmeg, and heat this mixture through. Add the lemon juice or wine and cook for 1 more minute.
Oil a baking dish large enough to hold the fish fillets, making sure they are in a single layer. Put in the fillets, then spoon the heated mixture over the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO
1 cup oil packed sundried tomatoes
½ cup chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
freshly cooked pasta
Place sun-dried tomatoes, stock, oil, cheese and garlic in a blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Pour over fresh, hot pasta. Sprinkle with green onions and pine nuts.
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, split
3/4 cup popping corn
1/4 cup grated provolone
6 finely chopped oil-cured sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon oil from the tomatoes
12 finely chopped basil leaves
In a large, heavy pot, heat the corn and olive oils over high heat, until the oil smokes. Add 1 kernel of the popping corn and heat until the kernel pops. Add the split garlic and the remainder of the popping corn, cover the pot, and shake gently until the corn starts to pop. Shake until popping stops. Remove from heat, remove the garlic. Toss the popcorn with the remaining ingredients.
Give making your own sun-dried tomatoes a try. With the different ways in which they can be used, it certainly will be worth your effort.Give making