How To Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes
I’ve got a spice mix I make that really needs sun-dried tomatoes. They’re expensive, though, and there are plenty of tomatoes coming out of the garden. I could make my own! I did, and they came out great, so if you’d like to try it yourself, here’s the process.
Are sun-dried tomatoes from the store actually dried in the sun? Nope. And yours don’t have to be, either. You can use your oven or a dehydrator.
The only ingredient is tomatoes! Perfect! Roma tomatoes work best, because they have the least amount of moisture in them to start with, but any tomatoes will do.
You need a large pot, stove, slotted spoon, and big bowl of ice water if you want to peel your tomatoes first. Then you need the oven, toaster oven, or dehydrator, plus a container to store the finished product in. I used a mason jar, but any sealed container will do.
Removing the Skins
I left my skins on, and most of the varieties in the store also contain the skins. If you want to remove them, though, it’s pretty easy. Put the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water, and after no more than a minute, spoon them into the big bowl of ice water. Give them a moment to cool, and then when you handle them, the skins will slide right off.
I don’t really recommend this, because if you over-heat them, you’ll turn your tomatoes into a mushy mess, and you’ve just added a bunch of water to the mix right before you want to dry them. But, the option is there if you really don’t want skins on your finished product.
Now cut up your tomatoes. If they are cherry tomatoes, cutting in half will do. If they are small romas, into fourths will work. For larger tomatoes, more cuts may be needed. The final dried tomatoes will be about 1/4 the size they started from, so adjust your pieces to get the end size you like.
Cut off the stem area and any soft/bruised spots.
Remove the seeds if you like. If you’re using romas, there aren’t a lot of seeds to start with, and it’s fine to skip this step. Actually, it’s always fine to skip it. More seeds means more moisture to dry, but it won’t really affect the end result.
You can sprinkle the slices with salt, basil, oregano, or other spices if you like. I kept mine plain.
Dry the Tomatoes
The easiest way would be with an dehydrator. Just put the slices on your trays and follow your dehydrator instructions. They will take 3-8 hours at about 140 degrees.
You can use a toaster oven, if your toaster oven has an always on setting and if the temperature is right. You would only be able to do a small amount. I haven’t used this method, so I can’t help much more with that.
My dehydrator was busy with squash and peppers, so I used my oven for these tomatoes. The oven needs to be set as least as low as 150 degrees. Lower would be fine. Put the slices on cake racks. You could also just use a baking sheet, but then you’d need to turn them occasionally so they dried evenly. I used cake racks on a baking sheet to get the even drying and also catch any drips. They didn’t really drip, though, so I don’t think that’s necessary. You will need to rotate your racks top-to-bottom periodically so that they heat evenly. The oven method will take 10-20 hours.
The tomatoes are done when they have a flexible, raisin-like texture. They shouldn’t feel wet or sticky at all. Once they’ve cooled off, you can put them in your container to store them.
I don’t like to eat sun-dried tomatoes by themselves. I mostly made these to go in my spice mix, which I’ll post about next week. What do you do with your sun-dried tomatoes?