Right next to our gorgeous chili peppers we grew in the garden this year, we also grew a SLEW of just-as-gorgeous tomatoes. We grow them every year, but this year we picked up some fabulous heirloom tomato plants during a visit to Asheville, NC, and gave them a try. Talk about flavor. Heirlooms are BY FAR my favorite types of tomatoes, and luckily there is a large variety to choose from. Weirdly, they produced quite late in our season, so we had to pick a number of green tomatoes off the plants just before frost struck us. We had a large batch, but let them sit on the kitchen counter with apples to help them ripen. And ripen they did! Neat trick, the apples. If you bury an apple in your tomato bowl, it will speed along the process. And you want to cut the tomatoes off the plant so you are not severing the stem from the tomato. This helps them last longer which is needed for the ripening process.
So, the question remains. What to do with all these tomatoes? We've made plenty of sauces and froze a lot, but another way to consider preserving your outstanding tomato harvest is to make sun dried tomatoes at home. But wait? It isn't very sunny! And it's cold outside! How can we do this? You do this, my friends, with a dehydrator. I've posted information on how to dehydrate chili peppers, and the same principal works for tomatoes. The process is simple. First, you need a dehydrator.
Here is a link to the one I own - It's an affiliate link, FYI: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A. I LOVE this dehydrator. AND! You need some tomatoes, olive oil, and a few other ingredients. The recipe is listed below, but here are some photos to help you out.
How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes
First things first. Clean and dry your tomatoes, then slice them into fairly thin slices, about a quarter inch thick or less. Some recipes call for coring them out, even peeling them, blanching them first, but we don't think so. We're making it easy, and to be honest, the resulting tomatoes come out great this way. Try it. You'll see.
Lay out your tomatoes like so. Give them room to dry. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit of salt, pepper, dried basil and/or dried oregano. Cover, and turn on the dehydrator. You'll want a temperature of 140 degrees, the same for dehydrating chili peppers.
A difference here, though, is that you don't necessarily want your tomatoes to dry out completely. You want them to be somewhat pliable, so keep your dehydrating time at about 6-8 hours. You'll need to check on them to make sure they are dried out enough, but not TOO dry. Ours were done at the 6 hour mark, but again, be sure to keep an eye on them after about 6 hours or so. If you flip them half way through it will help prevent them from sticking to the dehydrator tray. Plus it allows you to season the other side if you'd like more seasoning.
Once dried, remove them and layer them in a jar with garlic cloves, fresh basil leaves, rosemary sprigs, and a bit more salt, pepper, dried basil and dried oregano. Like so.
Once you've got your tomatoes nicely layered, cover them in olive oil. You can press down on the tomatoes and contents of the jar to compress them, making room for more tomatoes. Just be sure the ingredients are all submerged in oil. Just like this...
Doesn't it look delicious? Oh yes! Cover tightly with a lid and refrigerate. They should last 4-6 weeks this way. Perfect for so many recipes!
How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes - with a Dehydrator
- 2-3 pounds fresh tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 head garlic, cloves removed and peeled
- Basil leaves - 10-12 should do
- 2 cups olive oil - as needed
- Clean and dry the tomatoes. Slice them into fairly thin slices, about a quarter inch thick or less.
Lay out your tomatoes on dehydrator racks. Do not overlap.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit of salt, pepper, dried basil and/or dried oregano. Cover, and turn on the dehydrator at 140 degrees.
- Dry for 6-8 hours, but check them after 6 hours to ensure they do not over dry. You want them to be slightly pliable. Flip them once about half way through the process.
- Remove the tomatoes
and layer them in a jar with garlic cloves, fresh basil leaves, rosemary sprigs, and a bit more salt, pepper, dried basil and dried oregano.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator. Should last 4-6 weeks.
Here is a link to the one I own - It's an affiliate link, FYI: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A