A few weeks ago, I picked a bumper crop of tomatoes (over 50)! That is a lot more than two people can handle. So I decided to make my own Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce. And then much to my surprise, yesterday, I picked another 86 (!!!!) tomatoes from our garden! And one giant capsicum!
I decided that since we have enough pasta sauce to last us (and it can be bought really cheaply), that I wanted to make something that was different to what we normally have, and is a bit more expensive than we would normally like if we were to buy it from the store! So I looked at sundried tomatoes again. Last time I had an abundance of tomatoes I didn’t want to make sundried (or oven in my case) tomatoes because of the bacterial risks involved in storing them in oil. But I discovered that sundried tomatoes can actually be frozen! So I’m going to give it a try! Here is my recipe for sundried tomatoes! (If you are going to make this, have at least 6 hours spare that you can have your oven on for!)
Note: A lot of different people suggest that you need a certain type of tomato to sundry properly, but seriously, just use whatever you want and keep an eye on it. Adjusting the oven temperature to suit your tomatoes and your oven is key to getting a perfect oven dried tomato! So just play around and enjoy your tomatoes!
Homemade Sun(oven)dried Tomatoes
Dried herbs (basil, thyme, whatever you like!)
1. Wash all the tomatoes thoroughly and then slice in half from top to bottom.
2. Place cut side up on a baking tray. I used baking paper on my trays, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. If you aren’t going to use baking paper, then use a little cooking spray on the tray before you place the tomatoes down.
3. Season generously with salt and then leave for 20 minutes. During this time preheat the oven to 100C or 250F. You probably will adjust this temperature throughout cooking based on how the tomatoes look (eg starting to brown but still very juicy, turn heat down).
4. Place in oven for at least 4 hours. My two trays took 5 hours, and I rotated them half way through cooking. The idea is to cook them low and slow, so that the majority of the moisture evaporates from the tomatoes.
5. When the tomatoes are wrinkled and a lot smaller than they were at the start, take the trays out of the oven. You want as much water cooked off as possible without them burning.
6. While the tomatoes were still hot I drizzled them with olive oil and then the dried herbs (I used thyme). And then I left the trays to cool.
7. Once the tomatoes are cool, place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week, or if you want to freeze the tomatoes, place the trays in the freezer for 2 hours, and then once the tomatoes are frozen, transfer the tomatoes to freezer safe containers.
8. If you are freezing, making sure you write the date the tomatoes went into the freezer, as the tomatoes will last you several months.
9. To use the frozen tomatoes, take as many out as you need an hour before you need them and let them thaw out. Use them in sandwiches, pasta salads, or cooked dishes that require sundried tomatoes. They can basically be used just like normal sundried tomatoes!
I found that using my own homegrown tomatoes and oven drying them, that the flavour was very intense and very strong! It was quite different to other sundried tomatoes that I have tasted! I am so excited to have found a safe way to preserve sundried tomatoes and I hope that you enjoy them too!