Everything old is new again... In the 90's you could not toss a dart at a restaurant menu without hitting a dish that featured "Sun Dried Tomatoes". And why not? When you extract the water and moisture from a tomato (as much as 90% of the weight) you are left with a flavor punch that leaves your guests reeling.
The initial flood of the restaurant market with these gems has slowed and even produced a bit of a parody feel when you hear the term. Overuse caused them to fall out of fashion.
But, they probably didn't deserve the scope of initial uproar when introduced (although Sun Dried Tomatoes have been around for hundreds of years, hard to introduce them... But I digress) and they certainly do not deserve the near forgotten status they have now.
What they do deserve is to be used as an ingredient staple in your pantry. That deep pang of flavor can add amazing things to your dishes.
But there is a problem... The costs.
A small jar or bag of these can set you back $7 or $8 bucks. A pretty big price to pay for an add on ingredient. So... MAKE YOUR OWN!
I make mine with a food dehydrator. Minutes to load, another few minutes to preserve in a jar and done. You can of course dehydrate in the sun, but that takes days. Also, there are concerns about food safety when you make these. Fortunately a load in the dehydrator fills a single pint size jar. Easy to keep track of. I add a little extra acidity with a dip in Red Wine Vinegar that adds weeks to the safe time of storage.
This is a technique post as opposed to a recipe post (although the recipe does follow)... Simple east to follow DIY steps and you save a fortune!
Slice into large sections (they shrink... A LOT), scoop out the seeds and internal juices (again, less to dehydrate).
You can remove the skin if you like (I don't).
Load the dehydrator according to the directions. I run mine for about 20 hours depending on the thickness and moisture content. Tomatoes are done when shriveled but still slightly pliable like a raisin... And of course dry.
Tightly pack the now dried tomatoes in a jar and fill with vinegar). Drain the vinegar and then refill with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Fill above the level of the tomatoes.
Store at room temperature in a cool dark place (pantry). Use within a couple of months.
Hint: Makes AMAZING Sun Dried Tomato Pesto!
Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in Oil
- 3 Pounds Plum Tomatoes
- 1 Pint size Mason Jar
- About 1/2 a Pint Red Wine Vinegar
- About 1/2 a Pint Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- You need a Food Dehydrator (read the directions first... Or not, what the heck)
- Prepare the tomatoes. Skin them if you like (Optional). Slice onto large pieces, but remove center seeds membrane and juices.
- Arrange the slices on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate according to directions until pieces are dry, shriveled yet slightly pliable.
- Either dip each piece in a Red Wine Vinegar bath or fill a jar with tightly packed dried tomatoes. Fill the jar with the vinegar. Close the lid, turn a few times so everything gets coated.
- Empty the red wine and replace with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Be sure to cover the tomatoes completely, and seal the jar.
- Use in dozens of ways and ENJOY!