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How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Drying tomatoes in the sun or in your oven to preserve the harvest


Dried tomatoes

Dried tomatoes cooling on a rack.

Colleen Vanderlinden
Besides the luxury of being able to go out my side door daily and harvest my own organic greens, beans, squash, and tomatoes, I love being able to indulge in one of my absolute favorite culinary weaknesses.

I'm speaking, of course, of sun-dried tomatoes.

Of course, the easiest way to do this is to use the power of the sun. Traditionally, you would place your tomatoes between two simple frames constructed from wood and window screening (to keep pests off of them) and put them in a sunny spot to dry over the course of a few days. But if you live in a humid climate (like I do) then what you'll most likely get is a bunch of moldy tomatoes because the humidity prevents them from drying properly. So I rely on my oven to do the work, and the results are delicious.

Step 1: Get yourself some tomatoes, and some fresh basil doesn't hurt either. These are 'Costoluto Genovese' and 'San Marzano' plums, but any tomato will do.

Step 2: Slice the tomatoes. Plum tomatoes work well sliced in half lengthwise. For the 'Costoluto Genovese,' I sliced them about 1/2 inch thick.

Step 3: Arrange them on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper---the tomatoes tend to stick), about 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar. If you've got basil (or any other herb you like!) go ahead and sprinkle some of that on, too. Put the tray in the center of a 170 to 200 degree oven. Drying time will take up to twelve hours. Check them regularly. When they look kind of leathery and are no longer exuding any juice, they're done.

Step 4: Remove them from the baking sheet, and let them cool completely on a wire rack. You can put them in a jar with a little olive oil, and keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks. Or you can seal them in any airtight container (don't add olive oil) and store them in the freezer for up to six months.

These dried tomatoes are a delicious treat on pizza, in pasta, or baked into breads. And there's a certain satisfaction in eating tomatoes from your garden on a pizza in the middle of December!

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