Friday, July 23, 2010

Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

We picked another two grocery bags full of tomatoes.  Now what do you do with a bag full of tomatoes?  Make sun-dried tomatoes, of course.

A few years back I worked in a wonderful organic market in Maryland, David's Natural Market.  If you live in the greater DC area, you have to check them out, and tell David I said "hi"!  I must say the market spoiled me with all the wonderful, tasty organic fare.  My biggest love was the Divina Sun-dried Tomatoes.  They came in a vat packed in olive oil with Italian spices and garlic.  They were so good that my daughter and I would eat them like candy!  Now I live in a town where treats like those are VERY hard to find, so I thought, "Why not try to make my own?"

It's simple, really.  Slice Roma tomatoes about a 1/2 inch thick and allow to dry on greased cooling racks in the oven at 150 degrees F or in a dehydrator.  You want them to not be quite all the way dry.  They should still be a bit tacky, even barely mushy.  It will take at least 12 hours.  You could even turn the oven off and leave them overnight to continue drying.  Two racks full of tomato slices will yield about 2 cups of dried tomatoes.  Cover them with olive oil, sprinkle in as much Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and coarse salt as you like.  Remember, you can always add more later.  Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before an initial tasting.  Add any more seasoning if needed.  They store in the refrigerator for at least a week or 6 months in a freezer (12 months in a deep-freezer).

The tomatoes are great by themselves, but the resulting olive oil bath is just as great.  You can use the oil as a base for a wonderful salad dressing.  Just mix in a little vinegar of your choosing.  It is also great tossed with pasta for a quick side dish or spread over a crusty piece of baguette.  Nothing goes to waste.

Let me know how your gardens are growing and any ideas you have for all the wonderful bounty.  Happy eating!

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