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Well the clue is in the name really, but I still felt the need to see how this is done and then give it a go myself.  After a quick bit of research, it seems that are a few ways in which this can be done, but I have looked at the alternatives and decided that the traditional ‘sun’ method is the one for me.  The other options I came across are;

  • Using a food dehydrator – although I decided that I wanted sun-dried tomatoes and not dehydrated tomatoes. I know this pretty much amounts to the same thing, but I am sure there is certain amount of flavour that is lost through such processes.
  • Using the oven – again, I want sun-dried, not oven dried tomatoes.  Although as I am currently in Cyprus, the sun is hot enough a few days basking on the sunshine should do the trick.  If you are in a cooler climate or don’t have regular sun, the oven will work for you, a low heat, (110-130 degrees) and an hour or so and you should have the same product at the end, although under the trades description act I’d be reluctant to call them ‘sun-dried’
  • Using the car – this is the odd ball that I came across, that uses the sun’s rays and heat, but magnifies it behind the glass of your car.  Basically prepare the tomatoes as normal and put the tray on the dashboard of your car facing the sun, the heat build up will speed up the process and if it’s hot enough, you’ll have sun dried tomatoes in a day!
  • Using the sun – theres a suprise!

As for the preparation, its pretty straight forward, get your tomatoes (home grown are best!), any variety will do although plum tomatoes seem favoured.  You want ripe tomatoes but not over ripe, nice and firm still.  Chop into quarters (length ways), remove the tough part near the top (stalk) and deseed if preferred. (my recent ones I have left the seeds in – makes no difference, they will just take little longer to dry).  Spread them on a backing tray, sprinkle with a little salt and if you like a little dried oregano and wa-la.  Leave in the sun for as long as takes to dry them to a nice dark red, free from moisture.  This can take from a few days, up to a few weeks depending on the heat and intensity of the sun where in the world you are.

So what to do with them? They are a great accompaniment to many dishes, particularly chicken and inject a real flavour boost, essentially a sweet concentrated hit of tomato!  Personally, I like to use them in nibbles and find, rehydrating them (soak in bowl of warm water for 20 minutes or so), chop and mix with olives and chopped garlic and parmesan shavings makes a great treat to enjoy with a nice fresh ciabatta.  Check out my recipe website for a few more ideas.

All the best.

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  1. JDerek says:

    Love the flash-salting idea. I know people should generally use as little salt as possible, but I’m hopeless when it comes to tomatoes – they just don’t taste the same without it:)

    • admin says:

      The salt helps take the moisture out of the tomato and they dry better. Salt in moderation is fine and if you add to your own food you know how much you are consuming. It’s the ready meals etc that are loaded with salt and other preservatives…hence i stay well clear!

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