Oh tomato, how do we love thee? Raw, cooked or sundried, tomatoes are a treat that we at I Say Organic just cannot get enough of. While fresh tomatoes are in our diet all through summer, in winters, we love getting a hit of that lycopene via sundried tomatoes. Sundried tomatoes go great in salads, frittatas, pastas, sandwiches and in bakes.
But baby, it’s cold outside. How do you get out to dry those delicious fruit into even more tasty bites? Short answer: you don’t step out of your warm, cozy home. You use an oven.
What’s more, this process is relatively much shorter, and gives you more control over what your tomatoes are exposed to during the drying period, as opposed to on a terrace with hungry birds above.
Let’s get started!
- A large pot
- A large slotted spoon
- A Ziploc kind of bag
- Your oven and baking trays or racks
We would advise against picking juicy tomatoes. The juicier they are, the more drying you have to do. Firm, red tomatoes that are relatively thicker and aren’t over ripe are your best bet. About a kilo of tomatoes makes for a cup and half of sundried tomatoes. You could do this with cherry tomatoes as well for tiny little bites of joy.
This is a little trick that makes the skins of the tomatoes slide right off. Blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds to a minute in boiling water, a few tomatoes at a time. Then plunge them into ice water immediately to prevent loss of colour and texture. After cooling, pick the skin off with a gentle tug.
- Preheat the oven to 65 ˚C, or the lowest setting. Drying them at the lowest setting means that you’re removing all the moisture, but leaving all the flavours in.
- Arrange the tomato halves on baking racks or trays. Make sure to not let the tomatoes touch each other. If you’re using sheets or trays, remember to flip the tomatoes with tongs halfway through to get both sides evenly dried.
- You can sprinkle some sea salt or spices before the drying process for flavor.
- Shut the oven door and let dry. It might take 10 to 20 hours – we advise that you check them periodically.
- You’ll know that the tomatoes are done when they’re a deep red colour, but still flexible.
Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature; say an hour or so and then carefully, fill the plastic bags with the tomatoes, leaving room for expansion. Squeeze out the extra air from the bags before storing in the freezer. The tomatoes will retain their flavor for about 9 to 12 months.
Super tip: Zip the bag shut, leaving enough space for a straw. Suck out all the air, and press closed to vaccum seal the bag.
- Dried tomatoes reabsorb moisture quickly – so make sure that your bags or containers are sealed solid.
- Check your dried tomatoes every day, for about a week, to make sure there isn’t any condensation in the bags or containers. If there is any, re-dry the tomatoes for a further few hours.
- If you’d like to pack them in seasoned oil like olive with basil or oregano, then we’d recommend you dunk them just before eating, instead of long-term.