I’ve mentioned several times my love of the farmers markets here in Virginia. I really just can’t get enough of them. Soon, though, all the wonderful summer produce I’ve grown accustomed to will be a distant memory. I love fall, and I’m definitely ready for cooler weather, pumpkins, soups and sweaters. However, I’m not quite ready to give up fresh tomatoes and corn. That’s why I’ve been reading quite a bit about canning and other techniques for preserving foods. I haven’t tried my hand at canning yet, but I hope to in the near future.
The recipe that follows here is hardly even a recipe, but I knew the moment I tasted these tomatoes that I had to share them with you. I found several methods for making oven dried tomatoes, but I had a hard time finding the best way to store them. Since I couldn’t find conclusive evidence on whether or not it is safe to store the dried tomatoes in oil, I opted to store them on their own. Some sources said oil-packed tomatoes need to be refrigerated and only last up to five days, but others said adding vinegar would eliminate the need for refrigeration but could turn the oil rancid if kept at room temperature. Some said it was okay to add garlic, while others said garlic could lead to botulism, especially if using a water bath. With my tomatoes drying away in the oven, I decided the simplest solution would be the best (thank you, Occam’s razor).
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how the tomatoes actually taste. I’m happy to report that they are much better than any store-bought sun dried tomatoes I’ve ever tried. The tomato flavor concentrates, so these have an incredibly rich flavor. Unlike the store-bought variety, these aren’t as leathery. Rather, they have a chewier, more flexible texture. So far, we’ve only tried ours in a couscous dish, but I know they’ll taste great on salads, pizza or in any pasta dish.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
2 1/2 pounds Roma or Juliet tomatoes
Fresh herbs of your choice (I used thyme and oregano.)
-Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible. (Mine was 170ºF.)
-Wash and dry tomatoes, then slice in half lengthwise.
-Place on a rimmed baking sheet cut side up.
-Sprinkle with salt, then drizzle with olive oil.
-Place herbs on top of tomatoes.
-Bake for 8-12 hours. (This will depend largely on the size of your tomatoes and what temperature you choose to bake them.) The tomatoes should be flexible with curled edges, and no juice should run out when you press on them.
-Cool on racks. Once completely cooled, store tomatoes in an airtight container in the pantry or freezer.
Cook Like a Champion original