Sundried Tomatoes

Well, to be accurate they are really oven-dried but sundried sounds so much more alluring. As for
me, my oven environment is more conducive to drying than our locale so, oven-dried it is.

As the weather cools we are reaching the end of the tomato season and I received some overflow tomatoes from a neighbor. The quantity was more than we could eat but less than needed for a batch of canned goods so I decided to dry them. Drying is a great way to preserve small batches of tomatoes. Traditionally, roma tomatoes are used to create the dried version due to their meaty, thick-walled nature but I dried the tomatoes that I had, which included several varieties. 

My oven has a drying setting which translates to 190° in the convection mode. If you are using a regular oven set it at 200°.

Select tomatoes that are ripe and blemish-free. It is not necessary to peel or deseed the tomatoes. Wash and core the tomatoes then slice the tomatoes into generous 1/4" slices. I use the widest setting on my mandolin slicer. Place the slices on a wire rack; avoid overlap. You can set the rack over a parchment-lined sheet pan if you want to catch drips but the drips are minimal and the tomatoes will dry more quickly and evenly if the airflow is not obstructed by the pan.

Combine equal amounts of salt, sugar and white pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over the tomatoes to season. Place the racks of tomatoes in the oven and leave the door propped open slightly so that moisture can escape.

Check on the tomatoes after 3 hours to see if it is necessary to rotate your racks for even drying. Then check the tomatoes every hour and remove any that have reached the desired stage. The finished tomatoes should be leather-like, similar to a raisin. Over-dryed tomatoes are crisp. These are still edible so don't discard them. Just consider it part of the learning curve. Feel free to taste as you go. The dried tomatoes are delicious. Two large cooling racks (these are slightly larger than a half sheet pan) produced about a quart and a half of dried tomatoes (including the ones that I ate--these are addictive).

So, what are a bunch of dried up tomatoes good for? Lots of tasty things! You can use them to flavor hummus, soft cheeses, pasta dishes and more. As I create new recipes using the dried tomatoes I'll be sure and add some to the blog.

The day after making my first round of dried tomatoes for this year I decided to dry another batch and include some jalapenos. The only drawback to the peppers is that I did not want to taste test so I just let them dry until all of the tomatoes in that batch were done. I have since used one to spice up some fresh salsa. To do this, I ground a single dried pepper in my spice grinder then used about half in the salsa. 

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