Making sun-dried tomatoes is a simple process that can be done in your oven! It’s an easy and fun way to preserve this delicious and sweet tomato treat!
Juicy summer tomatoes are one of the best parts of summer. But, sometimes you end up with more than you can eat or use. I love making salsa or tomato sauce out of summer tomatoes so we can enjoy them all winter long. But, the cherry or grape tomatoes can get a bit tedious to process in the same way as their larger cousins.
My new favorite way to preserve these smaller varieties is to make sun-dried tomatoes.
They come at a premium if you get them from the store. Not to mention that it can be hard to find brands that use organic tomatoes, and the non-organic brands often contain unhealthy oils and chemicals for color retention.
By making sun-dried tomatoes yourself, you can be sure of the ingredients you’re using, and you’re getting them for much cheaper than you would at the store.
What are Sun-dried Tomatoes?
Sun-dried tomatoes are a traditional Italian way of preserving tomatoes by slicing them in half, lightly salting them (to help pull out the moisture), and drying them in the sun (typically covered by a fine mesh screen to keep bugs and critters out).
Once dried, the sugars and flavors from the tomato are concentrated into small, tomato bites that burst of summertime in your mouth.
While you can try the traditional method, it does take some time, and cannot be done in high humidity, or the tomatoes will rot before they dry properly.
To speed up the process, you can use a dehydrator (if you have one) or simply put your tomatoes in your oven on a low setting (around 200F).
Which Tomato Breeds To Use
Technically, you can use any tomatoes to make sun-dried tomatoes.
However, bigger thicker tomatoes will take longer to completely dry than smaller, thin-fleshed tomatoes.
That’s why I prefer this method of preservation when it comes to an oversupply of cherry or grape tomatoes. These smaller tomatoes have less water and fewer seeds, so they take less time to oven dry.
And, if you want to speed up the process more, you can remove the seeds from the tomatoes and shave a couple of hours off of the needed drying time.
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes In The Oven
Making sun-dried tomatoes is a simple process that can be done in your oven! It's an easy and fun way to preserve this delicious and sweet tomato treat!
- Prep Time
- 5 minutes
- Active Time
- 6 hours
- Total Time
- 6 hours 5 minutes
- 1 pound Small organic tomatoes (cherry or grape tomatoes dry the quickest)
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- Begin making sun-dried tomatoes by preheating your oven to 200F.
- Wash your tomatoes and pat them dry.
- Halve the tomatoes and remove the seeds and core, if desired. (Removing the seeds and inner juices will help the tomatoes dry faster.)
- Place your prepared tomato halves on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side up.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little bit of sea salt. (Remember that the tomatoes will shrink as they dry, so don’t go overboard on the salt.)
- Place the tomatoes in the oven until they are dry and leathery. (From my testing, about 3.5-5 hours for seeded grape tomatoes and 6-8 hours for not-seeded grape tomatoes.)
- As the tomatoes dry, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
Your yield will vary depending on what type of tomatoes you use and how dry you get them. From my testing, 1 lb of organic grape tomatoes yielded around 2 oz of dried tomatoes.
Using Your Sun-dried Tomatoes
If you want your sun-dried tomatoes a bit softer when you are ready to use them, you can put the pieces you plan to use in hot water or some oil for 15 – 20 minutes to re-hydrate.
There are so many ways to use sun-dried tomatoes:
- Put in the boiling water as you make rice or couscous
- Top pizzas or salads
- Puree in a pesto, mayonnaise, or with oil and vinegar to make sauces, spreads, or salad dressings
- In a pasta dish, an omelet, or with chicken
- Baked into fresh bread
- And, jars of them make great gifts!
Storing Sun-dried Tomatoes
The best way to store your homemade sun-dried tomatoes is in the refrigerator or freezer.
You can store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Or, you can freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a sealed container in the freezer, where they will keep for months.
Some people like to store homemade sun-dried tomatoes in a jar that is filled with olive oil like you would get them from the store. This is a time-honored traditional way of preserving sun-dried tomatoes. However, the National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend canning dried tomatoes in oil because any water droplets that may be left in the tomatoes if they are not 100% dried could contain bacteria that would be harbored in the oil.
There, now you know how to make sun-dried tomatoes and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for the inferior stuff from the store!
- Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D. Resources for Home Preserving Tomatoes. National Center for Home Food Preservation. April 2018.