Every year, I look forward to the warm weather beckoning me to start my annual garden. Don’t get too excited. I don’t have a sprawling backyard, or any backyard for that matter – this garden is a true city garden, on my back deck. This year, I grew a multitude of hot peppers, herbs, and of course, tomatoes. I wait patiently, as best I can, for August and September, trying not to rush summer away, but those fresh, ripe, tomatoes are just so good.
Aside from enjoying them as is, I’ve made Caprese salad, tomato and goat cheese galette, Greek salad, salsa, tomato sauce, and tomato soup, but until recently, I had never ventured into the world of homemade sun-dried tomatoes. I think I was worried that it would be challenging to do without a dehydrator and that I would ruin some of my precious harvest, but I decided this was the year, and I’m so glad I did. Sun-dried tomatoes have that concentrated sweet and tangy tomato flavor, and I love the texture they add to dishes, especially pasta!
If you’re looking to do something new with your tomatoes this season, try these sun-dried tomatoes – they’ll allow you to enjoy your tomatoes during those winter months when it seems like tomato season may never return (P.S. no one will know if you go to the farmers market or grocery store if you haven’t grown your own!) Truthfully, the process is actually quite simple, it just takes some patience as they dry in the oven for at least four hours.
1 lb of cherry tomatoes (small tomatoes have less water so they take less time to dry)
3 garlic cloves
4 leaves of basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
2. Remove the stems from the tomatoes.
3. Cut the tomatoes in half.
4. Place tomatoes on parchment lined baking sheet (don’t use aluminum foil as it can react with the acid in the tomatoes).
5. Lightly sprinkle salt on tomatoes.
6. Bake tomatoes for 4-6 hours (depending on the water content, size, and how dry you want the tomatoes).
2 hours into the drying process
4 hours into drying process
7. Remove from oven and let cool.
8. Slice garlic, chiffonade basil and add to ½ cup of olive oil.
9. Add red pepper flakes, to taste.
10. Add cooled tomatoes to olive oil mixture.
11. Refrigerate in a sealed container and enjoy for up to one month (but they won’t last that long!).
if you have a ton of tomatoes and want to preserve them, this is a fantastic way to do so. If you have more than you think you’ll use in the immediate future, you can also freeze them after they’re dried and enjoy them for months to come. These marinated sun-dried tomatoes would make an awesome homemade holiday gift, as well, and the oil tastes just as good as the tomatoes.
If you’re still not convinced that drying your own tomatoes is easy enough. and you want to buy them, you’re in luck because The Chopping Block carries my favorite semi-sun-dried tomatoes, Pomadoraccio! I chop them up and add them to popcorn with Parmesan and TCB Garlic Salt for pizza-flavored popcorn, I skewer them with bocconcini and drizzle with Cream of Balsamic for the perfect appetizer, and I think they make any pasta better, but most times I can’t stop myself from eating them straight from the jar. Come see us in our retail store and grab a jar of tomatoes and a bottle of Isola Cream of Balsamic, and you’ve got a true taste of summer!
If you are interested in learning about other methods to preserve your summer harvest, don't miss our Canning and Preserving Workshop this Saturday, August 24 at the Mart. If you really want to geek out about acidity and pectin levels, join us for the next step, Canning Boot Camp coming up in September.
We also have a free guide you can download to get started at home, Preserving Food: Let's Can, Pickle and Ferment.