Sun Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients
  • 7-8 pounds roma tomatoes
  • olive oil, to fill jars
  • dehydrator
  • 4, 8-oz Mason jars
Instructions
  • Rinse tomatoes. Cut into 1/4" slices.
  • Place sliced tomatoes in dehydrator trays. 
  • Check tomatoes every few hours. Rearrange trays as necessary. Remove any tomatoes that are finished dehydrating. You can tell they are finished when they are leathery. Don't let them get crunchy. 
  • Store dehydrated tomatoes in fridge until all trays are finished.
  • For me, each tray took about 10 hours. The entire process took approximately 20 hours. 


Practicality, Rehydrated

Sun dried tomatoes are one of my favorite ingredients. Have you noticed how expensive they are though? Like, this is working class America, guys. $6 for one ingredient in my sauce hurts my soul. It's tomato season after all, so why don't we just make our own sun dried tomatoes?

I feel a little weird calling these "sun dried tomatoes" when they were actually dried in a dehydrator. "Dehydrated dried tomatoes" just doesn't have a nice ring to it. Some people online recommended drying the tomatoes in one's car to get real sun dried tomatoes. Is this a real suggestion? Has pragmatism disappeared? Not in these parts.

Speaking of practicality, I recognize that not everyone has a dehydrator. Because of this, I would like to point out that I do not own a dehydrator either. Instead of rushing to the nearest Walmart, I borrowed one. Do you know anyone with a dehydrator? Yes? Call those bastards (yes, CALL), tell them you'll pay them in tomatoes. No? Follow the oven directions listed below.

It really couldn't be simpler to make sun dried tomatoes. Slice, place in trays, turn on dehydrator, place in jars, fill with oil. It does take some time to dehydrate, with about an hour or 2 active time. And, it smells weird. I thought dehydrating tomatoes would smell great, but it smelled like... drying tomatoes. As obvious as that sounds, you just have to experience it. Why does no one talk about this? 


 

Let's talk about equipment:

I try to avoid purchasing kitchen equpiment that is large and won't be useful on a weekly basis. I don't see myself dehydrating food on the regular and if I do decide to purchase, it will be from a yard sale (I see these all the time!—probably because we could do a little more borrowing and a little less buying). 

If you don't know anyone with a dehydrator, you could use your oven. If I were drying in my oven, I would place my oven rack on its lowest setting and place the tomatoes on baking sheets (I would need to borrow some baking sheets since I only have one). I would then stack the baking sheets. You'll want some space between the sheets and The Kitchn recommends placing foil balls in the corners of your sheets to get that extra height. (I don't know why I try to be a cooking resource because The Kitchn has all of us covered.)

I happened upon a buy one get one 50% sale on Mason jars last week. Do your thing, of course. Maybe you already have jars, maybe money isn't an object, maybe you want to wait until you find a sale like this yourself.


Now about ingredients:

First things first, I don't like raw tomatoes. "There's nothing better than a tomato fresh from the garden" are words only people out of touch with reality speak. "There's nothing better than a fresh tomato that has been cooked" is the true reality of the world.

At a local farmer's market, I found a half bushel (about 25 pounds) of tomatoes for $15. No way, I thought. What the hell am I going to do with 25 pounds of tomatoes? Instead, I purchased 12 pounds of tomatoes for ...$19. I let myself get ripped off. 

I used 8 pounds for this recipe.

Total costs and savings:

I made 4, 8 ounce jars. That's about $24 worth of merchandise at the grocery store (and most of those jars are 7 ounces). I spent $18.64, making each jar worth $4.66. That is a savings of $5.36. Hey, I'll take it. 



Originally, I was going to put the tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and herbs and can them. As some of you may already know, you can't do that. Canning in oil is a big no-no for home canners, apparently. I also learned garlic needs to be acidified before it can be canned. The bottom line is, sun dried tomatoes can't be canned in oil at home. So, store them in the fridge. Make sure that when you take some out, your jar has enough oil to cover the remaining tomatoes.

If you are really obsessed with canning these in oil, you can find some techniques on the Internet from people who claim they've "never had any problems". Play with botulism at your own risk, my friends. (While this is not a recommendation, if you're not afraid of botulism, First Winter would be the film to watch.)

Now, go get those tomatoes before the season is over. And, for God's sake, cook them first. 

L.A. Salami

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