In my family, the most highly anticipated fruit of summer’s bounty is the tomato. We eat them in salads daily, or sliced with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and drizzled olive oil. And my favorite summer sandwich is sliced tomatoes on toasted whole wheat bread with salt, pepper and mayo!
I wish we could enjoy fresh garden tomatoes all year, but the next best thing is to enjoy them canned or preserved in dried form. We refer to them as “sun-dried tomatoes,” but most people use dehydrators or home ovens in the interest of saving time.
Sun-dried tomatoes are a convenient, tasty way to enjoy the flavor and health benefits of tomatoes any time, whether in sauces and soups or enjoyed in salads and other cold dishes. They are easy to make, too. When your garden crop comes in, you may not have the time or inclination to spend hours in a hot kitchen canning tomatoes. Instead, use a portion of your bumper crop to dry for use during the cold-weather months to recapture the taste of summer!
How to dry your own tomatoes:
- If you can plan ahead, use a variety of tomato with fewer seeds. But any variety will do. I use Roma tomatoes. Start with about 30, sliced in half and sprinkled with sea salt.
- If you have a dehydrator, set it at 105 degrees and dry them for about 36 hours. If using an oven, set it to 180 degrees and dry the tomatoes for about 8 hours.
The quickest and simplest way to preserve your dried tomatoes is to place them in zip lock bags and push the air out. Stored this way, they will last for several months – or longer, if you store them in the fridge or freezer. When you’re ready to use them, soak the tomatoes in water for an hour or two before using.
Many people prefer storing dried tomatoes in olive oil (you’ll add the benefit of omega-3s this way, an added bonus!). Place them in a tightly capped jar and be sure they are completely covered in the oil.
Stored this way, dried tomatoes will last quite a long time at room temperature. Be sure to add more oil to the jar, completely covering the remaining tomatoes as you use some.
Dried tomatoes are delicious when blended into dressings or pesto. They’re also good in breads, over pasta, or in quiches.
One 110 gram serving of dried tomatoes packed in oil contains approximately 234 calories and supplies 6 grams of fiber; also 187% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C, 28% of Vitamin A, and 26% of copper and manganese. Note: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which promotes eye health, and the oil actually increases absorption of this valuable nutrient!
What is your favorite way to use sun-dried tomatoes?
Source: Healthy Green Kitchen