Sun-dried tomatoes are ripe tomatoes which are placed in the sun to remove most of the water content from the tomatoes. Cherry types of tomatoes will lose 88% of their initial (fresh) weight, whilst larger tomatoes can lose up to 93% during the process. As a result, it takes anywhere from 8 to 14 kilos of fresh tomatoes to make a single kilo of sun dried tomatoes.
Sun dried tomatoes were created in the tile roofs of Italy as a way to store fresh tomatoes for the winter. This technique is still used for tomatoes, only in much larger quantities of tomatoes and for commercial use (commercially available tomatoes).
Sun-dried tomatoes can be used in a wide variety of recipes and come in a variety of shapes, colors, and tomatoes. Traditionally they were made from dried red plum tomatoes, but they can be purchased in yellow varieties of tomatoes as well.
Sun-dried tomatoes may also be preserved in olive oil, along with other ingredients such as rosemary, basil, dried paprika, and garlic.
Generally, when one speaks of a gourmet meal, one rarely thinks of dried food as being used for it. A meal is enhanced ever so much more by the lovely taste of sun-dried tomatoes. Many people think that the only way to get sun-dried tomatoes is from the shops. But instead of making a hole in your pocket by purchasing them, you can make your own sun dried tomatoes in the comfort of your own kitchen. The tomato season is just around the corner as summer approaches, so now would be the ideal time to start planning for your stock of sun dried tomatoes for the full year. Making sun dried tomatoes is not difficult. The only negative part of the entire exercise is the fact that the “drying” time can be very long. While the traditional method involves drying the tomatoes literally in the sun on covered trays, an alternative is to bake them to get a similar result. You can use your sun-dried tomatoes to prepare some mouth-watering dishes with them, throughout the year.
- Pick your tomatoes. Ensure that you use only plum tomatoes so that you get the best results. Just keep in mind that they can shrivel into almost nothing (which is one reason why a small bag of sun-dried tomatoes costs so much at the supermarket).
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the tomatoes and slice, with each slice being half an inch thick.
- Without touching the sides of the slices, lay them on the baking sheet.
- Place them in the oven and wait. Baking will normally take around 6 to 10 hours. While you can, of course, bake faster, quick baking will just ruin the consistency and the flavor of the tomatoes.
- Check the tomatoes periodically since there are times when the slices nearer the edges of the baking sheet will cook faster than the ones in the center of it. You can rotate positions in order to make it uniform.
- When the tomatoes are completely baked, they will have the consistency of fresh raisins. The undercooked ones will seem wet and sticky. The overcooked tomatoes will be dark brown and dry.
- If you find that there are some slices that are baked before the others, remove those slices and continue baking the others.
- Bring the tomatoes to room temperature on the baking sheets.
- Put them into zip top bags and refrigerate them. They will last for as long as you would like to keep them.
- You can soak them in olive oil, season them, or just use them plain, to add great flavor to many dishes and salads.