Since the tomatoes are coming in tidal waves right now, I’m going to send you all another excellent way to preserve them for the winter months. If you look in the grocery stores, you can easily find little bags of beautiful sun dried tomatoes, but they’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Don’t bother……. because they’re shockingly easy to make at home, even without a food dehydrator. I usually do up several batches in the fall, and add them to my pasta dishes, salads, on toast, or in a warm winter soup.
The main thing to remember is to avoid “slicing” your tomatoes. It doesn’t matter if you’re using little cherry tomatoes or big paste tomatoes, you always want to maintain skin on the bottom to hold all of the juices in while they’re drying. For the small tomatoes, I simply cut them in half, and for the larger paste varieties, I use the top and the bottom and then just chop & freeze the middle for later use. You’ll notice all of the tomatoes in the picture are like little tomato boats so that all of that delicious flavour doesn’t drip out while they’re drying.
All you’re going to do is cut your tomatoes and arrange on the dehydrator racks in a single layer & turn that little sucker on med/high (about 145) and let it go until they completely dry. For me, that was overnight, but it can vary depending on the humidity. if you’re doing them in the oven, simply place a baking rack on a cookie sheet, turn your oven to its lowest setting and walk away until they’re dry (6-7 hours)
While the oven method works fine- it’s a bit of an electricity drain. I bought my dehydrator several years ago for around $40 and I can’t even begin to tell you how much stuff I put through it in the fall; herbs, berries, tomatoes, peppers, citrus,you name it, I’ve probably tried it. It’s definitely paid for itself a couple hundred times over in the amount of harvest that I’ve been able to save for winter.
I put my dried tomatoes in freezer bags and into the freezer and then am able to pull out a few at a time as needed. Alternately, you can also pack them into jars and cover them with olive oil, which will last for several months in the fridge. If using the freezer method, you’ll just pull them out as needed, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes to plump & soften them up. The water that you’ve re-hydrated them in is going to be delicious, and I always tend to save it to throw into soup or stew or pasta sauces.
Here is to preserving the harvest in the big bounty of Fall!
See you next week!