Sun-dried tomatoes are an important ingredient in many dishes, especially those that are part of Italian cuisine. But sun-dried tomatoes are pretty prohibitive. Anyone who has visited a gourmet shop or a deli will have noticed the jars filled with sun-dried tomatoes and have balked at the price. But what you don’t know is that you can actually make sun-dried tomatoes in your own home at a fraction of the price.
Drying tomatoes is a very easy process and won’t even require any kind of expensive or specialized tools.
First, choose tomatoes that are already ripe but still firm to the touch. Do not get any that have soft spots. The best tomato variety for this type of process are Roma tomatoes, but you can also use Better Boy, Lemon Boy, or the more common Beefsteak tomatoes. Decide whether you want to keep the tomato skins on or off (it’s really a personal preference). If you do want to remove the skins, just dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for less than a minute then immediately transfer the tomatoes to a basin of ice-cold water. The sudden temperature change will allow the skin to come right off.
Cut the tomatoes in half, making sure that you also remove any parts that are too hard at the core or any bruised parts. Cut the tomatoes again until you are left with quarters. At this point, it will be easy to remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Use small teaspoon to more easily get into the meat of the tomato.
Now the drying process will start. You can use either a food dehydrator (some homes do have them) or an oven for this purpose. Although a dehydrator will offer more consistent results, an oven will be more readily available. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the oven method.
Arrange the cut tomatoes on wire racks that are placed on top of cookie sheets. Heat your oven to about 150 degrees. While the oven is heating, season the tomatoes with salt and any herbs you may want to include. Place the tomatoes in the oven and allow it to slowly dry. The oven method is significantly slower in drying so it will take at least ten hours for the tomatoes to dry up (though some people say it can take up to 20 hours).
After this, the tomatoes are now properly ‘sun-dried.’ It will have a characteristically leathery look and may remind you of raisins. Put the tomatoes in plastic bags and put them in the fridge. You can also freeze them so it will keep longer. You can also put some tomatoes in a jar and cover it with olive oil and some herbs of your choice.
Photo from thekneadforbread.com