Saturday, June 21, 2008

Drying tomatoes

Pick a bunch of tomatoes. Generally, varieties designated as paste, roma, or plum are best since they're drier to begin with and are kind of mealy when eaten fresh. These are also the ones you'd want to use for making sauce. Certainly you can dry any kind, but you'd hate to wake up one morning in September and realize you could have had one more tomato sandwich or Caprese salad, but squandered it on tomato jerky instead.

Slice them up. Smaller tomatoes like these, you can just cut in half. I found that these Principe Borgheses had a flattened shape, and that if you cut them parallel to the flattened sides, the seeds where much easier to remove -- other tomatoes may vary.

Poke your fingers into the halves and squish out most of the seeds and gel, then lay them out on a rack on a baking sheet.

You can sprinkle them with a little bit of kosher salt to help get the juices out and add a little flavor. Actually, you could add all sorts of fanciness at this point, like fresh herbs, or balsamic, but keeping it simple will give you more options when you're ready to use them.

Put them in the oven somewhere between 150 and 225 and let them go for a few hours. The time will depend on your temperature and how dry you want them to be, but you can probably count on 3-4 hours. If you start too late at night and want to go to bed, just turn off the oven and turn it on again in the morning. This is some definite low-impact cooking.

When they're done, you can eat them like candy, add them to sauces for extra sweetness, use them whole or chopped in pasta or pizzas, or grind them up in pesto. We put them in plastic and freeze them, which is an especially awesome idea when you remember them in December. You can also cover them in olive oil and store them in the refrigerator for a while, which preserves them and gives you tomato-infused oil.

And that is all I know about oven-dried tomatoes.

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Blogger Rural Writer said...

Your oven-dried tomatoes look great! We're barely started into the tomato season in northern Alabama.

BTW, this is the first time I've come across your blog. Nicely written with lots of wit and good pictures!

June 21, 2008 4:07 PM  
Blogger Lancashire rose said...

What a treat for the winter when there are no tomatoes worth eating in the grocery store.

June 21, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Gonna have to give this a try. Thanks for the write-up.

June 22, 2008 7:06 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Have you tried the Boggy Creek Farm smoked tomatoes? They are yummy. I wonder how hard it is to make those?

June 22, 2008 2:08 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Thanks for the comments everybody. Susannah, it's funny you should ask -- I was just thinking I might try that with the next batch. I've seen those at Boggy Creek, but haven't tried them. It should be pretty easy though -- 200 degrees is a pretty normal smoker temperature, so it should be about the same timing as in an oven.

June 22, 2008 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Perfect timing-- I'm practically swimming in tomatoes at the moment. Can't wait to give this a try. Beautiful photos.

June 22, 2008 3:06 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

They look awesome! We're growing cherry tomatoes specifically for drying this year ... I can't count how many times I wished for dried tomatoes to throw in food over the winter.

June 27, 2008 7:47 PM  

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