How to Make: Your Own Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
As I write this, summer is coming to an end. The final tomatoes are ripening up, but we just can't take another bite of a tomato!
A good way to use up those last few tomatoes is by making Sun-Dried Tomatoes! Not really sure how to use them, no worries, I'll share some recipes here.
Why make Sun-Dried Tomatoes?
They are easy to make.
They are a great way to use up the last of the tomatoes.
Cheaper than store bought.
They last a long time.
Packed full of flavour.
You can spice them however you like.
Easy to use in many great dishes.
What types of recipes can you make with them?
There are many different ways to use sun-dried tomatoes in a recipe, use in:
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto - Frittata
- Lasagna - Sandwiches
- Pasta - Biscuits
- Risotto - Bread
Alright, now let's make some!
Fresh Tomatoes: Cherry or Grape Tomatoes work great, pack a punch and because of their size, dry the fastest. You can also use Roma tomatoes, if you don't have the others.
Sea Salt: Salt helps enhance the tomato flavours, but use it sparingly. I suggest sprinkling it on with your fingers, remember tomatoes shrink a lot when they dry.
Equipment for making Sun-Dried Tomatoes
If using an oven that can cook at 120F: baking sheets and cooling racks
Food dehydrator (if not using an oven)
Cutting board, knife, towels
Storage jars or Freezer bags
Preparing the Tomatoes
1. Rinse your tomatoes and remove any stems.
2. Cut the Cherry or Grape tomatoes in half or cut the Roma into 1/4 inch slices (for the Roma tomatoes scoop out seeds without removing the pulp and compost it). Sprinkle some salt lightly over the tomatoes. If you plan on using any herbs, place the tomatoes in a medium bowl.
PROTIP: Try and make every piece relatively consistent to ensure even drying.
1. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on your tray liners (for your dehydrator) or baking sheets lined with parchment paper (for your oven). Space them evenly for good air circulation, and place cut side up.
Drying in a Dehydrator
1. Turn on dehydrator to 49-54C (120-130F). Drying time will depend on the variety of tomato, how thick the slices are, and what type of dehydrator you use.
This particular batch took: 12 to 32 hours (some took longer than others because of their thickness and water content)
- Cherry tomatoes, closer to 12-18 hours (two racks full)
- Grape tomatoes, closer to 18-32 hours (two racks full)
Next time I might put the grape ones on the top racks and the cherry tomatoes on the bottom. That might help dry them quicker, as the top two racks dried first.
Check back around 12 hours to see how they are doing, removing all that are done, leaving the rest to dry.
Drying in an Oven
1. Turn on oven to the lowest temperature setting it can go - however most conventional ovens don't go below 170F (76C).
It's not the most ideal temperature for drying tomatoes as it may cook them. If your oven does go that low, it's recommended that you flip them halfway through and use a spatula to flatten them down and spill out the juices.
I have never done this in my own experience as my own oven doesn't go below 170F. If you have any experience yourself, please don't hesitate to let me know what you do! Would love to know.
How to tell when the Sun-Dried Tomatoes are truly dehydrated
Just like raisins, the more moisture removed from the sun-dried tomatoes, the better and longer they will last in storage.
Look and feel:
The colour will be a deep red, orange, yellow or whatever other new fancy colour they came as!
They will feel leathery and pliable, not crunchy, hard or brittle. It should have no moisture when you touch it. Best advice I can give you is to touch the middle with the seeds and push it between your fingers. If you feel any moisture put them back in for another hour or two.
How to store Sun-Dried Tomatoes
1. Place dehydrated tomatoes in an air tight container and write the date on it.
Wide mouth mason jars works just fine.
For an enhanced level of freshness, consider using flip-top lid mason jar. The silicone gasket is designed to seal better than a regular mason jar lid.
PROTIP: Test out moisture conditions by placing the filled mason jar upside down for three days on the counter, out of direct light. If there's any moisture left you'll see it rise on the mason jar. If there's moisture, the tomatoes should be placed in the fridge.
Three ways to store them for 6 months:
On a shelf: at room temperature, away from light.
Fridge: especially if they are more on the wetter side.
Freezer: freeze on a baking sheet then transfer solids to a freezer bag. If rigid after thawing reconstitute them in water or oil.
How to check if your Sun-Dried Tomatoes have Gone Bad
Life happens, you forget about things and find a jar of tomatoes at the back of the pantry or fridge. How to tell if it's gone bad:
Look for mold inside the container of tomatoes
Check for a bad smell
If they changed colour, chances are, they've gone bad.