Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dried tomatoes...or how to fit three pounds of tomatoes in a cereal bowl

I don't know about you, but I find it a little hard to fork over $3 or $4, or even more, for a tiny jar of dried tomatoes. I adore dried tomatoes, but I haven't had them for nearly a year because I can't afford them. And then, suddenly, it dawned on me that they are ridiculously easy to make at home. My mom makes them every week in the summer, with a dehydrator, but an oven dries things out too, right? So, my weekend cooking project was making oven dried tomatoes. It was a breeze--if you've got an oven and know how to slice tomatoes, you can make them at home for much, much cheaper than store bought. And you can make them just as chewy, salty, and oily as you like. And to think that I've been depriving myself of dried tomatoes for so long.

The sad thing about dried tomateos is that that shrink. A lot. Pounds and pounds of tomatoes are reduced to a tiny bowlful. Right now they are $0.69/lb (in Manhattan, at any rate), which isn't super-cheap, but it's certainly cheaper than those little jars. I can't wait to dry tomatoes in the summer, when they are really in season. The active time needed to make them is only 15 or so minutes, but they do have to dry out in the oven for up to 8 hours, which is why they are a good weekend cooking project.

Since these are dried in the oven, they should be called oven dried tomatoes, but somehow that lacks a little something. They did hang out in the sun while the oven was heating up-- does that count?

As always, the quantities below are completely flexible. I dried 2 1/4 lbs of plum tomatoes, and they fit nicely on a cookie sheet, so that's what I'll specify in the recipe.

Dried Tomatoes

2 1/4 lb plum tomatoes
1 tsp salt
tiny pinch sugar
1 tsp (approx.) dried Italian herbs
2 tbsp (approx.) olive oil

Turn the oven on to 200 F. Wash the tomatoes and slice into 1/4'' slices-- don't go any thinner or they will get crunchy in the oven. Spread them in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, a tiny bit of sugar, and the Italian herbs. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until they are the right texture-- not wet, but not crunch. They should feel like soft raisins or dried apricots. I'd say that will take around 7-8 hours.

They will keep forever in ziploc bags in the freezer. I knew I'd be using my little handful of tomatoes up right away, so I just put them in the fridge. Next time I might put them in a jar with some olive oil.


Astrid said...

great idea. looks yummy

deinin said...

Oh! Fabulous idea. I am so going to do this once the tomato season really kicks in.

rusvaplauke said...

Awesome! During summertime, we have lots and lots and LOTS of tomatoes which we do not know where to Use. Cnsidering my love for all things sun-dried and tomato-y, I'm sure I'll be making lots of these this summer.

vko said...

Oh- you are so smart! What a great idea!

Am busy catching on with blog reads, what did you finally make as dessert for the NYC Ballet reception?

I love that you intern at a fashion magazine, which magazine?- I too did that many many moons ago, though I would find it a lot more difficult now that I have such strong views on veganism & fashion & consumerism to work at a fashion mag. One of my first jobs out of college was at a fashion mag- I was the Wardrobe Manager and boy did I work that fashion closet!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Sun dried tomatoes are perhaps my favorite thing ever, and i never imagined that they would be so easy to make! I will be trying this very soon.

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

your pictures are phenomenal...and everything looks fantastic!

and i'd (sadly) never even thought to do my own dried tomatoes. what a great idea.

so glad i stumbled upon your blog! YUM!

bazu said...

Just like DGMGV, I've sadly never thought of doing my own dried tomatoes. It sounds like a great idea- and thrifty- and delicious. Since I'll be experimenting with raw foods for the next month, I'm going to have to see about dehydrating tomatoes...

mel said...

How clever! I'm going to be on the look out for cheap tomatoes.