There’s nothing like creating a gourmet food product from your own backyard. Not only can you laugh at those big grocery store prices, but you can make a better product as well.
With cherry tomatoes being so easy to grow and a prolific fruiter (especially if you live in seQLD like me), it makes sense experiment with them and preserve them in a variety of ways. Here is our favourite recipe for sundried tomatoes. They’re easy to make, super-delicious, and require no special equipment.
When you have cherry tomato vines that keep-on-keeping-on (as we say in Australia), the harvest can be so big for so long that you really need a few different methods for keeping the fruit when you can’t use them all fresh. While it’s always good to use our quick-freeze method when you’re in a hurry, and sauce is always handy to have on hand, none of us want to eat the same thing all the time.
Sundried tomatoes have fantastic versatility; ideal within a traditional antipasti or grazing platter, use them as a flavour base for pasta sauce, an addition to home-made bread, salads, quiches and soups. The recipe below will keep for around 3 months in the fridge. Without water bathing (canning), they are not suited to long-term storage.
Here’s How to Make Them
Harvest (or purchase) your tomatoes- I suggest starting with at least a kilo (2 pounds), as the volume reduces significantly once they’ve dried. If you’re using cherry tomatoes like me, cut them in half. You can scrape out the seeds and pulp if you want to- this would reduce the drying time. For larger tomatoes, cut them in slices of an even thickness.
The next step is to dry your tomatoes. You can use an oven or a dehydrator, both will work just fine. In a dehydrator, cherry tomato halves with all the seeds and pulp will take around 12 hours to dry. Check the tomatoes periodically, and remove those that are dry enough. You’ll find that some will always dry faster than others. Set the temperature to 60C (140F). If using an oven, set to the lowest possible temperature, and crack the door open a little if necessary (you want them to dry out, not cook).
Juice a large lemon, then pour the juice over the tomatoes. Stir well to coat.
Sprinkle a little salt over the tomatoes and mix well (you can leave out the salt if your prefer- this is an optional step). Decant the tomatoes into a sterile jar. Fill the jar with oil. Your home-made sundried tomatoes are done!
- 1 dehydrator or oven
- 1 sterile jar
- 1 chopping board
- 1 Knife
- 1 kilogram fresh tomatoes
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1 lemon, large
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Wash the tomatoes then cut them in half (if using cherry size or smaller) or slice them to an even thickness.
- Dehydrate or oven-dry the tomatoes. If using a dehydrator, set to 60C (140F). If using an oven, set to the lowest possible temperature, and crack the door open a little if necessary (you want them to dry out, not cook). Depending on the thickness and whether you leave the seeds and pulp in, expect them to take from 6-14 hours to dehydrate. Whichever method you use, make sure the tomatoes are evenly spaced on your racks or baking trays, as maximum airflow is very important when drying food.
- Once the tomatoes have dried to a pliable but leathery consistency, remove them from the heat source to cool fully. Put the tomatoes into a bowl.
- Juice the lemon then pour the juice over the tomatoes. Mix to coat.
- Sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes and mix well.
- Decant the tomatoes into a jar, discarding any remaining lemon juice.
- Fill the jar with oil, making all the tomatoes are submerged.