Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I should have posted this at the end of the summer when I was actually making these. But, I will post it now, prefacing my next dinner post that uses sun-dried tomatoes.

At the end of the summer and the end of my garden, after I had canned all the salsa, spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce and stewed tomatoes that I could handle, I still had a bunch of tomatoes left and didn't know what to do with them. My mom suggested that I dry them in the oven so I gave it a try. Then she surprised me with an early Christmas present; a food dehydrator! So much fun.

If you've ever endeavored to buy sun-dried tomatoes, they're posh! Try making these this summer and you can use them year round for soups, Italian dishes, homemade tomato paste or sauce and many other things.

*Roma tomatoes are best for dehydrating because they have a lower water content. But other tomatoes can be dried as well. Make sure they are not low-acid tomatoes, they do not dry well and turn black.

*Make sure the tomatoes are fully ripe. If they are not, store at 60-70 degrees before processing, but not in the fridge.

*Wash tomatoes and remove center stem core. For Romas, slice lengthwise in 1/2-3/4 inch slices or halve or quarter. Dry skin-side down. You may remove skins if you want by blanching. For round tomatoes, slice 1/2-3/4 inches thick. You can sprinkle them with sea salt or Italian seasoning if you wish or just leave them plain.

*Dehydrator method: Dry at 140 degrees F until dry. They should be tough to crisp when dry.

*Oven method: Place tomato slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, silpat, or sprayed with cooking spray. Set your oven temperature to the lowest setting (about 150-200 degrees F). Bake for 6-12 hours. Check them periodically as some will dry faster than others.

*Storage: Do not chop up tomatoes until ready to use. Store in air-tight container or zip-top bag up to 6 months in the fridge or 1 year in the freezer.

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