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