Recently we received a trove of small plum tomatoes from Essex Farm, our unique and wonderful CSA (when you buy a share, you can CHOOSE the items you’d like them to DELIVER, and just about as much of it as you want). Since we don’t have the energy or space to can the tomatoes, we thought we’d experiment with drying them in our ancient restaurant stove whose pilot lit oven is a constant 150′. We often dry our kale chips this way, and in the past have done sliced apples and pears. Why not tomatoes?

We cut the tomatoes in half, and arranged them on a racks on a sheet pan. We brushed them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle them with some kosher salt. Then we put them in the oven.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Then we waited, checking on them occasionally. Here they are after about 14 hours (overnight). At this point, or a little dryer — say 24 hours — they remain enough juice that they wouldn’t be stable at room temperature. But we figured they WOULD be good frozen, to preserve a fresh tomato flavor in winter.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

So we packed some into a plastic container and drizzled them with a little olive oil.  A few days later we tried them. The tomatoes were easy to separate, and delish when defrosted.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

We also tried drying the tomatoes for about 48 hours. The extra time causes them to lose much of their liquid, becoming chewy like dried fruit. Because they lose so much of their volume, they are easy to store.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

These reminded us of the sun-dried tomatoes we used to buy in Italy: deep tomato flavor, almost a candy. The hold up find at room temperature for weeks so far.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

…A perfect snack, we can’t stop eating them. And we figure that either version will add bright tomato flavor to our winter cooking.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

If your oven isn’t warmed by a pilot light, you can oven-dry the tomatoes at a constant 150′ (possibly 175′-200′) OR use a food dehydrator.

It’s a great way to preserve the plum tomatoes that are in abundance right now.

 

 

 

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5 replies on “Oven Dried Tomato Candy

  1. This wonderful idea works well for the delicious figs that are abundant now. They are really sweet, tasty, and will keep indefinitely in jars, tins, or plastic without refrigeration (even in Texas!). The trick is to get to my figs before Gertrude and Mable (my favorite hens) decide to have an “al fresco” breakfast of them.

  2. I SO envy you your fig tree. The leaves are also lovely for wrapping goat cheeses and baking…

  3. Fresh figs, fresh brown (Producer reds: Gertrude)) and green (Aracuanas: Mabel), and even the produce from my waning organic garden (Texas heat) always become inspirational when I flip through the wonderful, well-worn pages of The Improvisational Cook.

    So glad to “fig-ure” a small part in your “fig-tastic” post on figs in today’s Improvised Life. Beautiful photos, colors, textures: it addresses and massages our senses! No one can ever say that “You don’t give a fig” !!!

  4. Ha. THANK YOU. Last night at a dinner party, I inquired about my host’s Italian mother’s fig tree, which usually yields an abundance of fruit this time of year. Nothing, due to the extreme winter. They weren’t even sure if the tree would survive but late in the season, it became full of leaves. Whew!. We’ll take THAT, hoping for figs next year.

    In the meantime, lucky you!

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