Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomatoes: The Easy Way

I love sun-dried tomatoes, their concentrated flavor is perfect diced up in pasta salads, added to pizzas, cooked in stews. Right now there is an abundance of cherry and plum tomatoes available and it’s a perfect time to save them for later. But, let’s face it, it’s far too hot in most parts of the country to be drying tomatoes in the oven, even if it is only on to 150 degrees.

My new favorite way to dry tomatoes (and herbs) is in the car. Really, it’s the best method. Brilliant Daughter and I recently brought home a bounty of small plum tomatoes from the farmer’s market. We cut them in half and scooped out the seeds (not really necessary but I prefer it this way).

Then we placed them on racks in trays and sprinkled with some fresh herbs (you could use dried as well) and some sea salt and they were ready to be shriveled. It just so happens we have a classic car sitting in our driveway (1964 Nova) that does not get driven very often. It has a perfect back window that gets good sun most of the day. We covered our tomatoes with floursack towels (cheesecloth also works) to keep away any pests that might have entered the car while the door was open. Then we set them in the back window, rolled up all the windows, shut the door and let them cook.

Between the sun beating down and the heat in the car (probably between 150 and 200 degrees), the tomatoes were done in 2 days. Depending on how big your tomatoes are, how hot it is, and how cold it gets at night, this could be longer or shorter in duration. You can bring them in at night if you want, but it is not strictly necessary.

Once they are dried you can plce them in airtight jars, in Ziploc bags, or in the freezer for later use. This is a great set it-and-forget it way to use up excess tomatoes.


Anonymous said...

Be carefull of the horseradish. It will spread.

Denise said...

This is brilliant!! In the car.....wow, what a great idea.

Linda said...

Trying this today. Have abundance of tomatoes from my backyard garden.. sold 15 pounds to the meat market yesterday

Mrs B said...

You are so lucky Linda. My neighbors pool pump broke and flooded my vegetable garden. Dead, dead, dead. So no homegrown tomatoes for me.Hope it turns out well for you.