Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oven Dried Tomatoes

I don't know about you but I find it very hard to walk past the discount table at the fruit and veg shop or supermarket. All those big bags of over ripe squishy bananas for $1 just right for banana bread or in this case bags of very ripe Roma tomatoes. I also like to try to make things you generally buy just to see if I can do a better job than the supermarkets or just to understand the process and see what's involved. Which is why I decided after a successful scavenge at the supermarket to make oven dried tomatoes.

The process itself is really simple, it just takes loads of time. Firstly cut your tomatoes in half length ways and lay them out on a oven tray. Don't cram them on - they need a little space around them or they won't dry evenly. Season them with salt and pepper - in this case I used Herbie's Bush Pepper, it's not terribly authentic but it's a delicious nutty pepper mix. The oven should be turned on as low as it goes, if it's too high they'll cook. Leave the door of the oven slightly ajar and leave them for oh about 12 -18 hours.

This photo is after a full day in the oven and what I'd call semi-dried. At this stage you can cut them into pieces and store them in a vinaigrette dressing for antipasto or salads. They must be stored in the fridge though as there is still enough moisture in them to go moldy.
Finally at about 11pm that night they were done - dry but not crispy. Chewy and intensely flavoured. I sterilized some small jars and stored them under olive oil. If you want to avoid the oil you could pack them in an airtight container and store them in a cool dark spot or in the freezer.

I'm very pleased with my jars and am looking forward to using my tomatoes in salads and on homemade pizza. Next time I'd like to experiment with cherry tomatoes - they would take a lot less time and would perfect to toss in a salad. I'll have to wait and see what's on the discount table next time I go shopping...

No comments: