Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Tomatoes are dehydrated in an oven or in a dehydrator, then preserved in olive oil. The olive oil becomes infused with the rich flavour of the dehydrated tomatoes which can be used in future recipes along with the “sun-dried” tomatoes.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Ingredients                                                                                 Makes: 1/2 pint jar
8 (1lb) Roma tomatoes ~or~ other small tomato variety
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil + more as needed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar ~or~ white vinegar (for dipping)
1/5 tsp sea salt

Clean and prepare tomatoes. Wash the tomatoes, cut out the stems and then cut them in half lengthwise. Remove as many of the seeds as possible without removing the pulp. With the cut side facing upward, lightly sprinkle the sea salt over the tomatoes evenly.

Dehydrate the tomatoes by oven or dehydrator. Oven-drying method (approximately 10 hours). Preheat an oven to 170°F and set the racks to the middle of the oven. If you are making a small batch and have a toaster oven, use that as it will cost less in energy.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and then arrange the seasoned tomatoes, with the cut surface up. Glass or porcelain dishes are fine, as is non-stick cookie sheets. Avoid using aluminum foil or laying the tomatoes directly onto aluminum baking sheets as the acid in the tomato will react with the metal. Lining the trays with parchment paper will ensure the tomatoes will not stick and will be less likely to burn or react.

Bake the halved and lightly salted tomatoes in the oven for about 3 hours. If moisture builds up, prop open the oven door an inch or so to let out moisture. After 3 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with a spatula. Continue to cook the tomatoes, turning the tomatoes over again after a couple hours if needed and gently pressing flatter until the tomatoes are dry. The tomatoes should be dehydrated after 10 to 14 hours of cooking, depending on how big and meaty the tomatoes are that are being used.

When the tomatoes are ready they should feel leathery, slightly gummy. There should be no more moisture felt when they are squeezed with the fingers. The tomatoes should not be crisp or burnt either; over-cooked tomatoes cannot be rehydrated. Place the dehydrated tomatoes on a rack to cool, covered with a clean cloth.

Please note that the tomatoes will become ready at different times as some may be smaller of less meaty then others, so check if they are ready near the end of the cooking time, and remove dehydrated tomatoes when they are done.

Dehydrator-drying method (approximately 8 hours). Place the tomatoes, cut side up, directly onto the dehydrator trays; otherwise the cut side sticks to the tray, making them harder to turn later. Set the dehydrator temperature to about 150°F, and begin cooking the tomatoes.

After about 4 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with a spatula, repeat after a few more hours. Continue drying the tomatoes until they are done, removing finished ones as they become ready. Allow the dehydrated tomatoes to cool in a bowl at room-temperature until they are all ready.

Sterilize the jar. While the tomatoes are cooking, give the preserving jar and lid a water-bath to sterilize them. In a sauce-pot insert the preserving jar and caps and then fill the pot with water to 2 inches above the jar. Place the sauce-pot on the heat and let it boil for about 10 minutes. Lay out a clean dish towel for the jar and lids to dry on. When the jar are sterilized and ready, using jar and lid lifters, transfer them to the towel with the jar placed upside-down.

Preserving the dehydrated tomatoes in oil. Dry the jar with a clean dish towel if needed to make them ready for the tomatoes. Press out any air that may be trapped in the dehydrated tomatoes, now also room-temperature cooled. In a small bowl pour in 1/4 cup of the vinegar. Dip the tomatoes one at a time in the vinegar, fully submerging it and allowing them to soak for a full minute; before transferring the tomatoes to the sterile jar. The vinegar with sharpen the flavour of the tomato as well acidify the oil and will discourage bacteria and mold growth.

When the jar is full of the vinegar dipped tomatoes, cover them with a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Ensure that the tomatoes are fully covered in oil, adding more as needed. Refrigerate the jar to prevent spoilage as it will spoil quicker left out at room temperature. The oil will solidify in the refrigerator, but will liquify again quickly at room temperature.

The dehydrated (sun-dried) tomatoes, as well the flavour-infused oil, can be used separately in recipes as desired. If using the oil, be sure to replenish the jar so that the tomatoes are always full covered.

The dehydrated tomatoes in olive oil will keep for up to 3 months in a refrigerator without spoilage. Enjoy!

Recipe shared by: J. Marshall

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