When you are left with a lot of tomatoes at the end of garden season, why not preserve them and make sun dried tomatoes? It is a great way to enjoy the taste of your fresh picked garden tomatoes even in the middle of winter.
If you are lucky enough to live in a hot and dry location, you can use the sun to dehydrate tomatoes. But for many of us who live in humid, rainy, or colder climates, we are going to need a little more than the sun to help us preserve the tomatoes.
Therefore, technically they aren’t actually ‘sun dried’ but they will become dehydrated with the help of a kitchen appliance. Therefore, no matter where you live, by following the instructions below, you can make your own dehydrated tomatoes that taste exactly like sun dried tomatoes.
And best of all, it won’t take several days to do so! In fact your ripe tomatoes can be dehydrated in less than a days time when you use an oven or dehydrator.
It is a fantastic way to preserve your tomatoes when you already have enough canned salsa, pasta sauce, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and more!
What To Do With Sun Dried Tomatoes
Once you have dehydrated tomatoes readily available, you will find all sorts of uses for them. They are the perfect addition to a variety of recipes.
They can easily be added to salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, pesto and more. If you want to add them on top of a pizza or sandwich, rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water or hot tomato juice for 10 minutes until they plump up.
Or if you are using them in recipes that already contain hot liquid, such as my favorite Creamy Tuscan Chicken recipe, just add the shriveled tomatoes to the sauce and let them cook until tender.
However, did you know that they make for a great snack as well? Pop a few of them in your mouth when you get that sweet tooth after dinner.
It is a much healthier alternative than cookies, cakes, pies and more.
Type of Tomatoes To Use
Before you make sun dried tomatoes you must first determine what type of tomatoes to use. Because our cherry tomato plants seems to produce early and often, they are an ideal candidate to become sun dried.
Although you can also use grape, Campari, or paste tomatoes as well. However, the smaller and meatier the tomato, the better it will turn out once dehydrated.
Because we always end up with a lot of cherry tomatoes throughout garden season (See: 5 Things To Do With Cherry Tomatoes), I tend to dehydrate them most often. Which is a good thing because the smaller the tomato the less preparation that is required.
Simply slice the tomato in half and remove the core and most of the seeds. For cherry tomatoes I simply squeeze them until the seeds fall out.
However, if the tomatoes are greater than 2 inches in size, you will need to be cut them into smaller sections. Then remove the core and seeds and begin the dehydrating process.
Now that you know how to use them and what type and size of the tomatoes that are required, let’s get to the actual process.
How To Make Sun Dried Tomatoes
Because we live in a humid environment, the weather is not ideal for making true dried tomatoes on the rooftop or on a backyard patio. Therefore, we have two options for dehydrating tomatoes.
1. Oven Method
A common method for dehydrating tomatoes is to place them in a low temperature oven for a long period of time.
Prepare the tomatoes by cutting them in half or small sections if you are using paste tomatoes. Then remove the seeds and core. Set them aside.
Turn your oven to a low temperature, somewhere between 200-225°F(93 – 107°C). Then place your tomato halves on a parchment paper or silicone lined baking sheet, cut side up.
Place the baking sheet in the oven for 4-5 hours until the tomatoes are shriveled and dry. The actual cook time will vary depending on the oven that you use and the humidity in the air.
Therefore, keep a close eye on the tomatoes at the 4 hour mark. Remove any tomatoes that are hard and crisp and let the others continue cooking until totally dehydrated.
Although the oven method for making sun dried tomatoes works great, the only downfall is that it does require you to turn your oven on during the hot summer months.
So what is another alternative?
2. Dehydrator Method
Although the most common method of dehydrating tomatoes is in the oven, because everyone has an oven, I prefer to make them in a dehydrator.
First of all, I love the fact that I don’t have to heat up kitchen when using a dehydrator. Although you can use your dehydrator on the kitchen counter, I often plug it into an outdoor outlet and let them dehydrate on our back patio.
I learned that there are many advantages of using the dehydrator outdoors when I made Hot Pepper Powder from the peppers from the garden. First of all the fumes of the hot peppers are able to escape without filling up the house with noxious aromas.
In addition, the hum of the dehydrator can be annoying to some people. However, with it being placed outdoors, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone.
So how do you make sun dried tomatoes in a dehydrator? Depending on the make and model of your dehydrator you will set your temperature to the low setting.
On models that have an actual temperature guide, program it to 140°F (60°C) for 5-8 hours. Dehydrators require a lower temperature because they are designed to release moisture much quicker than when in the oven.
Again, begin checking the tomatoes at the 5 hour mark and remove any that are dry and crispy. Continue to let the others dehydrate until the entire batch is done.
Storing Sun Dried Tomatoes
So now that you know how to make Sun Dried Tomatoes, how do you store them?
As soon as they cool, store them in an air-tight container. Then place them in the refrigerator and use within a week.
If you want them to last a little longer submerge them in extra virgin olive oil. They should last up to 3-4 weeks when stored completely submerged in an air tight container at room temperature, or even longer in the refrigerator.
Finally, our preferred method of storing homemade sun dried tomatoes: Freeze them! Frozen sun dried tomatoes will last over a year when stored in an air-tight container in the freezer.
Just be sure to flash freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before adding them to the freezer container. This avoids them sticking together in one large clump when frozen.
Then whenever you need a few for a recipe or snack, just pull them out the the freezer and rehydrate!
Mary and Jim
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How To Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes
The easiest and quickest methods to making sun-dried tomatoes. Check out how to dehydrate in an oven or dehydrator.
- 1 lb. grape, cherry, or Campari tomatoes
- olive oil, optional
- Italian seasoning, optional
- Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
- Slice tomatoes in half. Cut out the core and remove the majority of the seeds.
- Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and Italian seasoning if desired.
- Bake for 4-5 hours or until the tomatoes are completely dry and shriveled.
- Slice tomatoes in half. Cut out the core and remove the majority of the seeds.
- Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the racks of the dehydrator. Drizzle with olive oil and Italian seasoning if desired.
- Dehydrate at 140°F (60°C) for 5-8 hours or until the tomatoes are dry and shriveled.
Because all tomatoes and appliances vary, begin checking your tomatoes at the 3 hour mark for the oven and the 5 hour mark in the dehydrator.
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or store in olive oil in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Or freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet until frozen and then transfer them to an air-tight container and store in the freezer.
Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 115Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 18gProtein: 1g
Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.