They’re finicky little buggers…
…tomatoes, that is.
It’s near impossible to predict which years will result in bumper crops, and which years will be complete flops… And let me tell you, I’ve definitely had both! (I’m hoping this year’s deep-mulch method will improve my odds!)
My tomatoes usually like to stay green and rock-hard until late September–right up until the first freeze. The plants must get some sort of evil enjoyment from watching me frantically strip the vines on the crisp autumn afternoon before the first frost is predicted. It’s pretty common for me to have boxes upon boxes of green tomatoes sitting in my house as I wait for them to finally ripen.
Because of that, I usually cave and buy boxes of tomatoes from my farmer’s market to satisfy my summer tomato craving, and making simple sun-dried tomatoes is one of my favorite ways to preserve them for later.
I especially like making sun-dried tomatoes when I don’t have enough ‘maters to justify breaking out the canning equipment to make sauce. Some sun-dried tomato tutorials add a lot of extra steps, but I like to keep my method simple and quick.
Two Caveats to This Post
1) I know, I know… I call ‘em “sun-dried” tomatoes, but you don’t really need the sun to dry them. Although I suppose you could stick them in your car on a hot, sunny day if you wanted too. But, the dehydrator is much simpler.
2) I bought these ‘maters from Bountiful Baskets, I didn’t grow them… My tomato plants hardly even have flowers on them yet, so if you were starting to feel bad about not having homegrown tomatoes yet, please don’t.
Simple Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
You Will Need:
- Firm tomatoes (I prefer to use paste-type tomatoes for this (like Romas), but really, any tomato will work)
- Dried basil or oregano (optional)
Wash the tomatoes, cut off the tops, and slice them into roughly 1/4″ slices (you can totally eyeball this–no need to measure). Some sun-dried tomato tutorials call for you to peel and seed the tomatoes first, but I have’t found that to be necessary.
Place the tomato slices on your dehydrator trays, and sprinkle with dried oregano or basil (if desired).
Dry the tomatoes at 140-150 degrees for 8-10, or until they are leathery, yet still pliable.
Remove the ‘”sun-dried” tomatoes from the trays and store in an air-tight container. Store in the freezer or fridge to maximize shelf life.
Depending on how much moisture you removed, your tomatoes should last quite a while–especially if you store them in the freezer or fridge.
How to Use Sun-Dried Tomatoes:
Add your sun-dried tomatoes to pastas, stews, casseroles, soups, and whatever else you can think of! I will sometimes even rehydrate mine in a bit of boiling water, and then puree them in the food processor to create various sauces and pestos. They are a special treat in the dead of winter when all the tomatoes at the store a anemic-looking and flavorless…
Prairie Girl likes to eat them plain as an afternoon snack too.
- Select the firmest tomatoes you can. The mushy ones take forever to dry!
- The thicker the slices, the longer the tomatoes will take to dry.
- Your sun-dried tomatoes will last a looooong time, depending on how much moisture you removed. I’ve had my bags of sun-dried tomatoes last for over a year in my fridge.
- Don’t have a dehydrator? You can also dry them in your oven at 150 degrees for several hours–or until they are leathery.