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.

sun dried tomatoes in oil

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.

San Marzano Tomatoes

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.

San Marzanos on vine

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…

sliced san marzanos

…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.

dehydrated tomatoes on board

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.

sun dried tomatoes in oil 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?


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  1. 1

    Carol Egbert — September 7, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    Lovely – drying tomatoes is like storing summer sun for grey winter days. I like them in salads when there aren’t real tomatoes in the market.

  2. 2

    Julie Sparks — September 7, 2010 @ 9:21 am

    I tried drying golden cherry tomatoes this year, and a pint shrivels up into raisins so small I didn’t even end up with a palmful. They made a tasty log of compound butter, though. :) Yay for preserving the bounty!

  3. 3

    RavieNomNoms — September 7, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    How wonderful!

  4. 4

    Alix — September 7, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    winnie – those look SOOOOO yummy! if you have an extra jar let me know {{wink, wink}}….we’ll help you eat them!
    l’shana tova ~

  5. 5

    Monet — September 7, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

    I love the photographs that accompanied your post. Often the most simple recipes can be the most stunning to look at. I have never made sun dried tomatoes, but my husband and I both adore them. I hope to try my hand at making some now!

  6. 6

    Island Vittles — September 8, 2010 @ 8:19 am

    now those are some s.d. tomatoes I could stand behind. Such VIBRANT photos! Theresa

  7. 7

    Laura Aridgides — September 10, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    Awesome! Just did some “sun-dried” dehydrated tomatoes myself and was wondering if I could store in oil at room temp without any further processing. Right now they are just in a glass jar all by themselves, but I think I’ll put some in some olive oil too. Thanks!
    To your success,
    Dr. Laura

  8. 8

    Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. — September 10, 2010 @ 11:01 am

    Love your photos! So pretty and fresh. As a fellow blogger I feel it is important with food preservation to only give out solid advice. Check out this link on oil packing vegetables for Colorado State Extension:

    Here’s an excerpt about storing dried tomatoes in oil:

    Dried tomatoes in oil are less of a safety concern than [low acid vegetables like garlic] mixtures in oil because the pH of tomatoes is generally 4.6 or lower. In addition, by drying the tomatoes, conditions become even less favorable to growth of C. botulinum due to a decrease in water activity. However, to ensure safety, it is recommended that all tomato in oil and herb in oil products be stored at refrigerator temperatures.

  9. 9

    Barbara @ moderncomfortfood — September 13, 2010 @ 5:58 am

    I wish I actually had some garden tomatoes now so I could make this. Many thanks for the very useful how-to instructions which I will try when my fall tomato plants (grow! grow!!) finally start producing.

  10. 10

    Heather Loves Healthy Vegan Recipes — September 13, 2010 @ 6:24 am

    nice, I haven’t tried drying tomatoes before so great to know how to preserve them. I always wonder how long dried fruits/vegetables will keep, so thanks for that info too!
    My favorite way to use sun-dried tomatoes is to put them in a quinoa salad with lots of veggies dressed with a balsamic dressing. The flavor bursts in amongst the other fresh flavors.

  11. 11

    Meghan — September 19, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    A couple of questions- Do you need to use teflex sheets to dehydrate these? And do you turn them upside down or skin side down?

    Thank you :)

  12. 12

    Winnie — September 20, 2010 @ 4:59 am

    San Marzano tomatoes don’t have a lot of seeds/juice so teflex sheets wouldn’t be required. Feel free to use then if you have them, though, and if using a different type of tomato, you might want to for sure. I don’t think it matters whether they are skin side up or down, but I did flip them every couple of hours while they were in the dehydrator.

  13. 13

    Jeannette Sabo — December 7, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    I was wondering what your cost was for this project.
    jar size
    what is the actual cost campared to store bought.

  14. 14

    Winnie — December 7, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

    Hi Jeannette,
    Since I grew the tomatoes, I don’t really have and answer for you!

  15. 15

    Jennifer — July 19, 2013 @ 10:06 am

    The little jar…love the mason jar…what size is this considered? I would love to find some. And thx for the tutorial help.

  16. 16

    Hendrika — September 1, 2013 @ 1:28 am

    My favorite recipe: stuff chicken breast with several slices of tomatoes with some of the oil, add a thick slice of Brie and fresh basil leaves. Saute chicken lightly and wrap[ in filo pastry. Bake until filo is tan colored.