I’m having a hard time letting go of summer this year. The tomatoes, eggplants and peppers at the Saturday Farmer’s Market beckon me away from the pumpkin, whispering I’ll have plenty of time this winter to savor the sweetness of squash but only a few fleeting weeks until tomato plants are bare.
To preserve summer in my mind, I'm making oven-dried tomatoes to store in my freezer, before moving on to the winter squashes and root vegetables. Make these with me on this last official weekend of summer before welcoming soups and stews and slow braises back to your kitchen.
I make big batches with end-of-season tomatoes, buying up the (cheaper) not so pretty seconds to turn sweet and caramelized over long slow hours in the oven. I simply place the dried tomatoes in small mason jars and cover them with olive oil, storing them in the freezer until I’m craving a summer tomato.
Here is the method for making the oven-dried tomatoes. The quantities are up to you. I sometimes buy 20 pounds or more of tomatoes, rationing the little jars of oven-dried tomatoes in my freezer throughout the winter, trying to make them last until the asparagus start peeking out of the ground.
Small tomatoes (Roma tomatoes work well)
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Line a baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side up on the lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 6 – 8 hours, or until the tomatoes are shriveled and caramelized, but not completely dried out. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Once the tomatoes are completely cooled, layer them into small 4-ounce mason jars and cover them completely with olive oil. You can store these in the refrigerator for three days, or place in them in the freezer for longer storage. Just defrost the jars overnight in the refrigerator.
Use the oven-dried tomatoes for a frittata, pizza, pasta sauce, or salad. Be sure not to waste the tomato oil left in the bottom of the jar. It’s perfect for drizzling on grilled bread, brushing on pizza dough, cooking eggs or making a vinaigrette.
Enjoy, preferably with someone you love and delicious memories of summer!
See the links below for other creative and delicious ideas for drying fruits and vegetables, from our friends and colleagues at Recipe Redux!