20080909

Oven dried tomatoes

Name one great asset to your cupboard. One you can put in a pizza, in almost every salad, you can make omelets out of it, can put over a toast and could be a side dish to almost every meal you can think of. Well, sun dried tomatoes come close to it. Tasty, nice and they smell as good you get hungry just opening the jar. Well, they are really easy to do at home, with just your oven! This way you can put just the salt you want, the herbs you want, and get them as dry as you want. And of course, eat them as often as you want.

First thing first, what you will need
  • Oven, of course. Should be able to go as low as 100ºC (around 200ºF),
  • Tomatoes, any kind (for this particular post, I got medium sized yellow tomatoes, next time I will use cherry tomatoes),
  • Thyme (I guess they can be also good with basil, try if you don't have thyme and let me know),
  • Ground pepper,
  • Salt (coarse grained, better),
  • Olive oil (plenty of it!),
  • A relatively big oven pan to put your tomatoes in. Get one which is deep enough to allow space for the olive oil,
  • At least 4 hours you can have your oven running (depends on the size of the tomato)
The first step, is clean thoroughly the tomatoes with water, and then cut them in halves. Now put these halves in the pan, sprinkle liberally salt, thyme and pepper over each one of the halves and pour olive oil over them.



Now put in your oven with 100ºC (around 200ºF). While they are drying, your oven will get wet in the inside. I opened and cleaned it every hour, to avoid dropping water in the kitchen.



Be prepared, they will take a lot of time. Mine took 5 hours, and weren't completely dried. But I like them this way, they taste really good and get very well over a toast. I think with cherry tomatoes you can stop after 3 or 4 hours. When they start to wrinkle, they are ready to take. The longer you wait, the drier they are.



Now, here they are. Let them cool for 10 or 15 minutes before jarring them. You can put them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer (they will last for months, even years), or in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge as I did. To do so, pour in the oil in the pan and add oil until they are covered



Beware, olive oil gets solid in the fridge. I didn't believe it... until I did this and after one day it got solid white. After 3 hours at ambient temperature it returned to its usual state. Eat them in less than a week.

If you prefer to conserve them in your cupboard, use a sterilized jar with tight sealing. Put in your tomatoes and add olive just until the top. Close it (some oil will drop when you close) and double-boil the jar completely. This way the can last for months, but after you open your jar, put it in the fridge and eat in about a week.

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Written by Ruben Berenguel