All winter I look forward to the month when there are more fresh tomatoes than I can possibly eat. Full-flavored, succulent, wonderful tomatoes. It’s also the month when my preserving kicks into high gear, and I’m overwhelmed with tomatoes to can, freeze, or dry. Oven-dried tomatoes are the very easiest way to preserve an abundant harvest: simply slice, drizzle with oil, and roast in a slow oven for hours.
The farm has been supplying us with a big bowl of mini-Romas every week, and I’ve been drying them in the oven. These will become wonderful bits of semi-dried tomatoes, perfect to put on pizza, add into a casserole, or snack with some cheese and crackers.
To oven dry tomatoes (any size, but for larger tomatoes, your time will probably need to increase)
Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil for easier cleanup.
Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place in bowl, drizzle with some olive oil, and mix gently with your hands. Spread the oiled tomatoes on the baking tray, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake at 275˚ for 3-4 hours, until the tomatoes have given up almost all their moisture, and they smell divine. They will be thin and floppy, not brittle.
Let cool somewhat, then store in a jar, or freeze in one layer and then package so you can pull out a few at a time. Use them as whim dictates through the winter, and smile at the Big Tomato Taste of summer.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
- 4 quarts Roma (paste) tomatoes (1 half peck, about 6.5 lbs)
- olive oil
- Preparation: heat oven to 175˚F, or its lowest setting. Wash tomatoes to remove any dust, and dry them. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place cut side up on the pans; you should have enough to just fill two half-sheet pans. Drizzle the cut tomatoes very lightly with olive oil.
- Place pans in oven. Roast overnight to dry, until the tomatoes are chewy, not crisp. This will take 12 hours, or possibly as long as 24 hours, depending on just how much moisture was in the tomatoes.
- Check tomatoes periodically and taste test. When done, the tomatoes should feel leathery but still pliable, and not at all brittle. They should not be sticky.
- Let the tomatoes cool. Package in zipper bags or jars, and freeze for up to 6 months.
- You may also pack in olive oil in small jars, leaving one-half inch headspace, and freeze for up to 6 months. The oil will take on a rosy hue and tomato flavor, don’t toss it out when the tomatoes are used up!