In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, I know we’ve all noticed a shortage in food supply. Many times the shelves in our grocery stores are empty and we leave the store with many items on our lists unchecked. These moments cause us to rethink our dependance on everyday food items. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had to improvise in the kitchen every once in a while.
Recently I was craving some much needed omega-3 fatty salmon. Fortunately, the salmon was in stock at the local grocery store. The problem was that sun dried tomatoes were nowhere to be found. The sauce I wanted absolutely needed the sun dried tomatoes. What’s a gal to do?
First off, what exactly are sun dried tomatoes? They are in fact tomatoes that are dried in the sun; imagine that! Usually the tomatoes are first treated with salt, or sometimes sulfur dioxide. The tomatoes must spend at least 4 days in the sun, and up to 10 and then they are complete.
Sun dried tomatoes will keep their nutritional value even after the sun drying process is completed. They will shrink significantly and lose almost 90% of their initial weight.
So anyway, I looked in the refrigerator and saw that I had some lovely tomatoes on the vine, and took matters into my own hands! I decided I’d attempt to make sun dried tomatoes in the oven. And it worked out in my favor!
What’s more, making a homemade version of something allows you to customize the flavor to your preference. You can make several batches with various flavors. Think: garlic sun dried tomatoes, basil infused sun dried tomatoes, spicy sun dried tomatoes full of herbs…oh the possibilities.
Homemade sun dried tomatoes happen to be much more affordable than store bought ones. They’re more fresh, tasty, customizable, and affordable. What’s not to love?
So what kind of tomatoes should you use to make sun dried tomatoes in your oven? I used the tomatoes on the vine because that’s what I had on hand at the time. And I was very pleased with how those turned out. However when I make these again, I’ll be sure to use either cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. The reason these work so well is because they’re small and you just need to halve them, as opposed to cutting up an entire big tomato. There will be juiciness in each bite with the little ones.
That being said, sun dried tomatoes were made from red plum tomatoes. Many sun dried tomatoes are then preserved in olive oil, and include herbs, garlic, and capers.
These tasty sun dried tomatoes can be used in a variety of dishes. From sauces to pastas, to just snacking on their own, they deliver a huge punch or flavor!
What You Need:
3 lbs grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil (for preserving)
Bay Leaf (for preserving)
Capers (for preserving)
Preparation: This part is super easy! Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 230 degrees.
Next just halve the grape or cherry tomatoes and lay them on the baking sheet with the cut side facing up. Finally, finish up with a sprinkle of sea salt.
You’ll need to slow roast the tomatoes in the oven at 230 degrees for approximately 3-4 hours. There is no maintenance required such as flipping the tomatoes over.
Towards the end of the slow roast, pay attention to the tomatoes to ensure they do not burn. They will not taste good if they’re crisped up!
Can I store these sun dried tomatoes? Absolutely. If you don’t plan on using them right away, you can jar and refrigerate them. In a sanitized jar, add extra virgin olive oil and fill with the sun dried tomatoes. Add a bay leaf, garlic, and some capers. You may sprinkle fresh herbs onto the tomatoes as you serve them, or add the herbs into the jar for preservation.
Can I freeze sun dried tomatoes? Yes! In a freezer safe ziplock bag, you can freeze these tomatoes for up to 2 months. To rehydrate the tomatoes, just add them to hot water and then drain.
My favorite ways to eat sun dried tomatoes is as a side, in my pasta, or in my favorite sun dried tomato cream sauce that I love to cook salmon filets in.
Even if you don’t cook often, you can easily make these easy sun dried tomatoes in the comfort of your own kitchen. The hardest part is being patient enough during the slow roast! And not devouring them all once they’re ready!