Sun-dried Tomatoes

IMG_1962 copyDrying tomatoes is such a wonderful way of preserving the summer harvest and you don’t need any fancy equipment to do it.  For years, before I had a dehydrator, I, literally, dried them in the sun.

All you need is lots of Roma (plum) tomatoes, salt, pepper and dried herbs of your choice. Roma tomatoes are best because they have less juice and fewer seeds than other tomatoes and have nice thick walls.

IMG_2010 copyCut your Roma tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  I found mum’s butter curler was “tailor-made” for the job but, in previous years, I have used a dessert spoon.  Discard the juice and seeds or, better still, keep the juice for another occasion.   Sprinkle your halves with salt, coarsely ground pepper and dried herbs of choice (I used dried mixed herbs but dried basil would also be perfect).  If you are drying them in the sun, add some garlic powder because it is good for keeping the bugs at bay.

Lay your tomatoes out on a cake rack or wire mesh in the sun until nice and dry.

IMG_2012 copyWhat I used to do was lay my tomatoes out on an old (cleaned) fly screen which I rested on two pieces of wood.  I am not sure whether fly screens are just an Australian thing.  In case they are, I will explain.  They are wooden (or, nowadays, aluminium) frames covered in fine mesh.  We place them over our windows so that insects can’t get inside our houses when we have the windows open. Second hand ones are easily sourced at salvage yards.

If you are drying your tomatoes in the sun, bring them in each evening.

The sun is traditional but a dehydrator is ideal.  Another great way to dry tomatoes is on the back window ledge of a car parked in the sun or, more conventionally, in a fan forced oven with only the fan on.

Leave your tomatoes until they are leathery.  You don’t want them so dry that they are brittle.  Mine took about 24-30 hours. The time will depend on the size of the tomato and where you drying them.

IMG_2014 copyPack tomatoes into a sterilised jar and cover with quality olive oil.  Store your tomatoes in the fridge.  The olive oil will solidify a bit but it takes no time to re-liquidify once you bring them back to room temperature.

Use your tomatoes in any number of things, especially on fresh crusty bread, as part of an antipasto plate, or in pasta dishes.

Once you have used your tomatoes, you will have beautiful tomato-infused olive oil to use in your cooking.  It’s a win-win situation.

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21 thoughts on “Sun-dried Tomatoes

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  3. I’ve longed to have a go at making my own sun-dried tomatoes. Trouble is that the the UK summers recently have been so rubbish it’s not even been a possibility. I absolutely adore sun-dried tomatoes – nothing more or less that they don’t improve in my book! I’ve always worried about the bug thing too though so the garlic powder is a useful tip. If we have a proper summer this year, I shall give it a go and if I can’t source a ready-made metal fly screen I shall order a homemade one from my resident DIY specialist! Thank you so much for sharing this. Your blog is wonderful by the way! So impressed by your grape production although the work involved is clearly not for the faint-hearted! E x

    • Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for visiting. Maybe the back ledge of your car may be better in England. I wouldn’t want any English shower spoiling your tomatoes:)

  4. We don’t have fly screens here which is quite a pain as we live in horse country! Great recipe and now I have a use for my butter curler 🙂

  5. We do have screens, Glenda, and using one here is a great idea. Do you cover the tomatoes as they dry in the Sun? I’m concerned about flies finding my tomatoes to be a banquet. 🙂
    This is a great idea, though, and I need to consider doing it myself this Summer. I can only imagine how much better sun-dried tomatoes taste when freshly made at home. Thanks for sharing, Glenda

    • Hi John. I always sprinkled garlic on my tomatoes when I dried them in the sun (I use the dehydrator these days) and I was amazed that nothing was attracted to them. I don’t know whether it was the garlic but I think it was. Whatever, you will have no problems. No, I didn’t cover them but I always brought them in, in the evening.

  6. Haven’t done this for years, Brisbane the climate is not good, too much humidity to do it the natural way in the sun so used to do it in the oven. But silly doing it with bought tomatoes, now I am growing my own will do this again if I have left overs, thanks for the reminder.

  7. I prefer sun-dried tomatoes to fresh ones, but never thought of re-using the oil! Do you have any suggestions, besides adding it to a salad dressing?

    • Hi Kate, we use it in everything we would use olive oil in – whenever we need a slurp of oil:) Of course, if we are cooking an Asian dish we use something a bit milder. Tomato flavoured olive oil just doesn’t work in a stir fry:)

  8. I’m guessing your garden is doing very well, huh? Congrats! I’m a tomato roaster rather than a dryer – however, to be honest, I’ve never tried drying them. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

    Ha. I love how you feel compelled to explain how window screens work – That really is very funny, you know – Is that because you believe the rest of the world doesn’t have bugs? (please forgive me for having a little fun – you can do the same to me anytime you wish)

    • They may be very common in Australia, but I’ve yet to see them in my travels around Europe. Such a pain in summer when bees and wasps decide to come indoors!

    • Hi Doc, Do you have fly screens in the States? I thought we were the only ones who had flies:)
      My garden is overflowing with tomatoes and cucumbers. We even have honeydew and I didn’t grow it. A self sown plant has about 5 melons on it.

      • Is the honeydew growing among the cucks? If it is, I bet the seed company is to blame – hard to believe a perfectly good honeydew sprang up from nothing – maybe they were grown there in the past. When I lived in Florida, I’d get mystery melons in my garden – but they were a wild type they called citrons, and really no good for anything – maybe yours are wild too.

        • Hi Doc, I hope not, I have been caring for it as if it was a honeydew! At first I didn’t know what it was but the fruit sure look like honeydew. I will tell you soon. I think the seed must have been in the compost as we have never grown anything there before – remember the vegie patch was made on clay fill. And it is on the opposite side of the patch to the cucumbers. BTW we picked 28 cucumbers the other day!!

          • Oh yeah, compost – that’s a good possibility. Well, good gardener’s luck to you – 28 cucks in a day, huh – you’ve got to be doing something right!

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