For the final week of Preserve the Bounty hosted by Nourished Kitchen, Jenny asked us to take on sun-drying. I’ve got a glut of San Marzano tomatoes right now, so this challenge came at the perfect time.
Todd and Diane wrote about and photographed the process of making sun dried tomatoes so beautifully a few weeks back, so really wanted to go the sun dried route. But since the weather has cooled significantly here, I turned to my dehydrator instead.
Like Todd and Diane, I grow San Marzanos specifically for recipes like this one. They are a thick skinned tomato with few seeds, ideal for where you’re not using the tomatoes raw.
Any variety of plum tomatoes, such as Roma, can be substituted, though. I started with about 30 tomatoes, sliced in half and sprinkled with sea salt…
…and I dehydrated my tomatoes at 105°F. This is the temperature at which the enzymes are best preserved; this temperature also mimics a very hot day. It takes a while to completely dry the tomatoes at 105°F…around 36 hours.
If you set your dehydrator to a higher temperature, like 150°F, it will of course take less time. You could also use an oven, set to 180°F, and it will take about 8 hours.
When they are ready, package your tomatoes up for storage. Keep them in a glass jar (or a zip lock bag with the air pushed out), and they should last for several months. For longer term storage, keep bags of these in the refrigerator or freezer.
I personally like to keep my dehydrated tomatoes in a tightly capped jar, covered with olive oil.
When stored this way, dried tomatoes will last quite a long time at room temperature, so you can enjoy them throughout the colder months. As you spoon out and use the tomatoes, add more oil to the jar so the remaining tomatoes stay covered.
If you choose not to store your tomatoes in olive oil, you will need to soak them in water for an hour or two before using. Dried tomatoes that have been re-hydrated (or dried tomatoes packed in oil) are wonderful blended into dressings or pesto. I also love them when chopped and added to pastas, breads, frittatas, and quiches.
What’s your favorite way to use them?