Sun-dried Tomatoes


Every year I grow loads more tomatoes than I need to use fresh, and the surplus are gently cooked with a little olive oil, passed through a sieve and frozen in bags to use throughout the year.  This works really well as a replacement to tinned tomatoes – even through you can get some good quality stuff in tins these days, my frozen tomatoes beat these hands down.  But sometimes, I don’t want to to make a tomatoey sauce, sometimes I like to have a bit of tomato ‘punch’ coming through as an distinct flavour.  Sun-dried tomatoes really work well in this role, and they are really easy to make yourself.  Of course, if you have plenty of sun and dry summer weather, this can happen all by itself.  For me, I have to resort to drying my tomatoes in the oven.  This is a slow process – don’t be tempted to increase the temperature in order to reduce the time.  Remember, you are trying to dehydrate the tomatoes to preserve them, you’re not trying to cook them. Patience is the key with this recipe…
This year I grew an Italian variety of tomato, Principe Borghese, which is specifically used for sun-drying

Cooking Time – approx 5-8 hours, dependent upon size

Ingredients

  • Ripe fresh plum or cherry Tomatoes, washed

    Tomato halves on trays just starting their long, slow baking process
  • Sea Salt

Method

  • Cut the tomatoes in half.  If your tomatoes are large, you may wish to cut them smaller
  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • Place the tomato pieces onto the tray, cut side up, leaving a gap between each.  Sprinkle with the salt
  • Cook in an over, preheated to 50-60°C until ‘leathery’.  This could take anything between 5-8 hours
  • Check regularly, rotating the tray to prevent uneven cooking
  • When cooked, the tomato pieces should not be hard and brittle, neither should they be damp/sticky/loosing liquid
  • Leave to cool and store.  The best way to keep for an extended period is in a bag in the freezer.  You could store them in olive oil with fresh herbs and garlic, or leave them in the fridge, however they will not keep for an extended period of time – use them quickly!
  • Lay them out
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