How to Dry Tomatoes & Put in Olive Oil

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Sun-drying is a great technique for preserving tomatoes; perfect if you are lucky enough to have grown an abundance of them in your garden. The drying process can be done indoors or out, depending on your climate. After you have dried your tomatoes, make a simple marinade with olive oil to serve with crusty bread as a tasty appetizer or snack.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Spoon
  • Framed plastic screen
  • Salt
  • Cheesecloth
  • 3-inch wide wood blocks
  • Baking sheets or pizza pans
  • Foil
  • Wire racks
  • Glass bowl
  • 2 cups rehydrated tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil
  • 2 fresh sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbsp. red onion

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • Select firm, ripe tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are traditionally used for drying, but use any type you like. Wash and dry your tomatoes.

  • Cut cherry and plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Slice larger, round tomatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick pieces. Remove seeds with a spoon or your fingertips if you like, though it is not necessary. Do not remove any of the tomato pulp.

  • Cut a slit in the skin side of each tomato to accelerate the drying process.

  • Place tomato halves -- skin side down -- and/or slices on a framed plastic screen; a seed drying tray is ideal. Separate each piece so they are not touching.

  • Sprinkle salt over your tomatoes to add flavor and help draw out moisture.

  • Cover the screen or tray with a cheesecloth to keep bugs away from your tomatoes.

  • Place your screen outside in the Sun on top of two blocks of wood around 3 inches wide. This allows air to circulate underneath. Leave your tomatoes outdoors for a few days to completely dry them out. Allow up to 12 days, depending on how much Sun they are getting. Bring everything indoors after the Sun sets each evening and put it back out again the following morning until the process is complete.

  • Inspect your tomatoes every few days. Properly dried tomatoes will be dark red in color and have a dry, leathery texture (not hard or moist). Stick your finger in the center of one of your tomatoes; you should be able to pull it out and have no pulp stuck to your finger.

Oven-Dry Tomatoes

  • Preheat your oven to 130 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest gas setting.

  • Cut a slit in the skin side of each tomato to accelerate the drying process.

  • Cut cherry and plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Slice larger, round tomatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick pieces. Remove seeds with a spoon or your fingertips if you like, though it is not necessary. Do not remove any of the tomato pulp.

  • Line your baking sheets or pizza pans with foil and place your tomatoes on top. Put your pans directly on the oven racks.

  • Bake in a closed oven at 130 degrees Fahrenheit for six to 12 hours, until the tomatoes are shriveled and slightly pliable, similar to raisins. Leave the door slightly open on your oven while drying if your lowest setting is 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are drying cherry or plum tomatoes cut in half, reduce the drying time to three to four hours. Check on your tomatoes regularly, removing the ones that are done. Place them on wire racks to let them cool down completely.

Marinated Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

  • Arrange your dried tomato slices in a glass serving bowl.

  • Finely chop 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp. fresh basil, 2 fresh sprigs thyme, 1/4 tsp. fresh marjoram and one red onion. Mix the garlic, basil, thyme, marjoram and 1 tbsp. red onion with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp. dried mustard, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. fine sugar and 1/4 tsp. white pepper.

  • Pour the mixture over your tomatoes and toss lightly.

  • Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not dry over-ripe tomatoes, as this could lead to decay. Store your dried tomatoes in plastic bags or airtight glass jars. Pack them in bags as tightly as possible, squeezing out excess air. Pack them in glass jars as compactly as possible and seal with a tight fitting lid. Store the bags or jars at room temperature in a cool, dark place, such as in a kitchen cabinet. Dried tomatoes will keep well for up to one year. They will keep well in a freezer for up to 18 months if wrapped tightly in plastic.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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