When I walk outside right now the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, and my cherry tomatoes are overflowing! It’s time to learn how to make sun dried tomatoes!
Traditionally, sun-dried tomatoes were made from laying tomatoes out in the sun. This is a Mediterranean way of preserving tomatoes. They can be stored in oil to last through the winter.
Once they’re dry, the tomatoes are shriveled up and have lost 90% of their weight. Turns out tomatoes have a lot of moisture!
Sun-dried tomatoes are used in salads and in pasta dishes. They’ve got a sweet, tangy flavor and a chewy texture. My favorite custom spice mix uses sun-dried tomatoes. They’re expensive, though. I make my own, and you can, too!
The recipe for sun dried tomatoes doesn’t even require the sun! The ones from the store aren’t dried in the sun. And yours don’t have to be, either! You can make your own sun dried tomatoes in your own kitchen using an oven or a dehydrator.
How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes
1. Gather Your Ingredients
This is the easiest part because the the only ingredient for a sun dried tomatoes recipe is tomatoes! Perfect! Roma tomatoes work best, because they have the least amount of moisture to start with, but any tomatoes will do.
2. Choose Your Equipment
- You’ll section your tomatoes using a large cutting board and a sharp knife.
- You need a large pot, stove, slotted spoon, and big bowl of ice water if you want to peel your tomatoes first, which is optional.
- Then you need the oven, toaster oven, or dehydrator to dry your tomatoes.
- Finally, you need a container to store the finished product in. I used a mason jar, but any sealed container will do.
3. Remove the Skins (optional)
I left my skins on, and most of the varieties in the store also contain the skins. If you want to remove them, though, it’s pretty easy.
- Put the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water.
- After no more than a minute, spoon them into the big bowl of ice water.
- Give them a moment to cool.
- The skins will now slide right off.
I don’t really recommend this, because if you over-heat them, you’ll turn your tomatoes into a mushy mess. Plus, you’ve just added a bunch of water to the mix right before you want to dry them! But, the option is there if you really don’t want skins on your finished product.
Additional Reading: 70 Fun and Practical Gardening Tips for Beginners
4. Prepare Your Tomatoes
Time to cut up your tomatoes!
Cut off the stem area and any soft/bruised spots.
If they are cherry tomatoes, cutting in half will do. If they are small romas, into fourths will work. For larger tomatoes, more cuts may be needed.
The final dried tomatoes will be about 1/4 the size they started from, so adjust your pieces to get the end size you like.
Remove the seeds if you like. If you’re using romas, there aren’t a lot of seeds to start with, and it’s fine to skip this step. Actually, it’s always fine to skip it. More seeds means more moisture to dry, but it won’t affect the end result.
5. Dry Your Tomatoes
The easiest way to dry tomatoes is with an dehydrator. Put the slices on your trays and follow your dehydrator instructions. They will take 3-8 hours at about 140 degrees.
The first time I made my own sun dried tomatoes my dehydrator was busy with squash and peppers. I used my oven, which is a great way to do a lot at once.
The oven needs to be set as least as low as 150 degrees. Lower would be fine. Put the slices on cake racks. You could also just use a baking sheet, but then you’d need to turn them occasionally so they dried evenly.
I used cake racks on a baking sheet to get even drying and also catch any drips. They didn’t really drip, though, so I don’t think that’s necessary.
You will need to rotate your racks top-to-bottom periodically so that they heat evenly. The oven method will take 10-20 hours.
6. You’re Done!
A sun dried tomatoes recipe is the easiest in the world. I kind of had to stretch to get six steps!
The tomatoes are done when they have a flexible, raisin-like texture. They shouldn’t feel wet or sticky at all. Once they’ve cooled off, you can put them in your container to store them.
What To Do With Your Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Now that you’ve learned how to make sun-dried tomatoes, what will you do with them?
You’ve got lots of options! Try some of these:
- Leave a few out in a bowl on the table and munch on them through the day. Just pop them in your mouth all by themselves!
- Store them soaking in olive oil to preserve them even longer.
- Chop them up small and toss into a salad.
- Chop or puree them, mix with oil and Italian spices, and spread on slices of bread or on raw or roasted vegetables.
- Add whole or chopped into a hot dish like chicken or eggs.
I made these to go in my spice mix, which I’ll post about next week. What do you do with your sun-dried tomatoes?