Also known as sun-dried tomatoes (thought I’m not sure how many people truly use the sun as their drying method?), these delicious little wads of intense flavour are the perfect addition to pasta, pizza, green salads, quinoa dishes or simply eaten alone.
If your garden is over-flowing with tomatoes and you’ve maxed out on salsa and tomato sauce, whip up a batch or two of these! Bonus: when you make your own, you avoid all the potentially dodgy additives (e.g. sulphites and highly processed or questionable oils) that come in packaged grocery store versions… PLUS there is zero waste!!! No bags, no containers, no excess oil or random ingredients. *So* many wins when you make your own food.
Literally just two ingredients: fresh tomatoes and sea salt. Of course you can fancy them up with any herbs and spices you like, but there is absolutely no need. They are so flavourful as is.
While I often use a dehydrator, you certainly don’t need one — or any fancy equipment really. Just an oven on its lowest setting and a bit of patience. I tend to start a batch in the evening so they’re ready in the morning, or vice versa. We’ve experimented with sizes, shapes, herbs, and even tried green tomatoes — they’re okay, but definitely tougher and more sour.
Batches can be as big or small as you like. Keep in mind the significant shrinkage that comes with dehydrating (they’ll shrink to about 1/4 their original size)! You may want to double or even triple this batch, because once you taste them, they go fast!
INGREDIENTS (makes about 1 1/4 cups, or one 250 mL Mason jar full to the top)
- 5 cups chopped or sliced tomatoes (I tend to halve my cherry tomatoes and slice my larger tomatoes — though it really doesn’t matter. Just remember thicker pieces take longer to dehydrate!)
- 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
- Optional: 1 tsp of any of the following – black pepper, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, parsley… whatever
- Chop tomatoes and mix ingredients together in a bowl. Some over-achievers suggest peeling the tomatoes and scooping out the squishy insides and seeds… To me, that seems like extra work for less nutrition — no thanks! Eat the whole tomato. Be lazy – eat healthy 😉
- If using a dehydrator, lay your tomatoes out directly on the trays (or according to whatever instructions come with your gadget) and set at 140 degrees F. If using an oven, lay the tomatoes out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and set to lowest possible setting (likely 170 or 200 degrees F). If using the sun, good luck to you and watch out for hungry squirrels.
- Make sure your tomatoes are spaced out so they don’t clump together (a great job for little people!)
- Allow to dehydrate for about 3 hours, then flip over (to be honest, sometimes I skip this step and it’s not a big deal)
- Continue to dehydrate for a total of between 6-9 hours (depending on your temperature setting and the size of your pieces, e.g. thicker pieces will take longer). [I realize that a 6-9 hour time span is pretty vague, but you really can’t go wrong. Unless you leave them in for 24 hours at 200F or something — even then, I’m sure they’re edible, though I’ve never tried it… yet. I *have* however let them go for about 20 hours at 115F and they were great.] The key is to check them regularly and feel free to taste-test as you go (yum!).
- As the tomatoes dry, remove them and place them in a sealed jar or container. Thinner, smaller tomatoes will be done first and thicker bits will take longer (sometimes I like to squash thicker, juicier parts down a little to move things along faster). **If you’re into consistency, you may want to try to keep all your pieces around the same size (e.g. all halved cherry tomatoes) so the whole batch is done around the same time. But if you like a little randomness (!!) and are okay with checking up on them from time to time, chop in whatever size you like!
- Use dried tomatoes right away in your favourite dish, or store in a refrigerated jar or container for up to a few weeks (if they last that long…)
Since they’re so simple to make (and our garden is over-flowing!), we’ve been making a batch every few weeks. The kids love to help with these, too — from harvesting the tomatoes to slicing and mixing, to spreading them out flat and even taste testing — each step of this recipe is ideal for little helpers!
I use these shriveled tomatoes on salads, pizza or tossed with raw zucchini noodles (or rice vermicelli) and a homemade pesto… yum! I’ve even put them straight-up in my kids’ lunches… they’re waaaaay tastier and healthier than any cracker! No need to dip them in hummus or guacamole (though you can, and we have). They’re a great little snack and an easy tasty way to get more veg into your kids.
In addition to sundried tomatoes (rather than chips or crackers), the above school lunches include homemade goji berry and hemp seed brittle, kale and grapefruit salad, omega hummus, homemade fermented sauerkraut and sourdough bread, chocolate chia pudding and a bunch of other whole foods from our garden (beans, cukes, apples) or local CSA box (ground cherries, raw cheese, eggs).