Monday, September 12, 2011

Marianted "Sun Dried" Tomatoes

Last year, I purchased an inexpensive dehydrator online to try my hand at a new preserving method.  My first attempts at it were a little clumsy and it was nearing the end of the season, so the glut of fresh produce had passed.  The device has been sitting in our storage area since then.

As I was perusing stashed recipes from other bloggers last weekend to find ways I wanted to use my 3/4 bushel of tomatoes, I ran across this one for marinated Sun Dried Tomatoes and knew immediately that I had to give it a try.

I have to say that so far, I'm pretty happy with the results.  They're way tastier than store-bought Sun Dried tomatoes and I think they're going to be a delicious burst of summer flavor in the dead of winter when I start adding them to pasta dishes or make sun dried tomato ravioli with them.  Mmmm..

Some thoughts and tips:
  • If you're buying tomatoes for this recipe as opposed to growing your own, don't expect them to be easier on your wallet than store-bought ones.  The 5 pounds of sliced tomatoes I started with dried down to just 3/4 of a quart canning jar.  Depending on the price per pound, it's only a small cost savings.  You can probably increase your yield by using "paste tomato" varieties, which start with less water.  I happened to have slicing tomatoes on hand.
  • This particular recipe isn't a "pantry staple" as it has a lot of oil in it.  You can store them in the pantry but beware that the oil may go rancid on you and spoil the whole batch.  I've got mine in the freezer.  The fridge would be another good choice if you have the space.  They'd probably be excellent vacuum packed with a FoodSaver like device.
  • Slice the tomatoes on the thicker side (no less than half an inch).  I made the mistake of slicing thinly last year and I ended-up with tomato chips rather than leathery sun dried tomatoes.
  • Time to dehydrate varies quite widely and there's a fine line between beautiful dried fruit and over-dried cardboard.  Hard as it may be, try to plan your drying so that you're home during the last 3rd of the estimated time so you can check them frequently and remove pieces that dried faster than the others.
  • The recipe includes rough instructions for drying via oven.  It's definitely an option if you don't have a dehydrator but you may not like the electricity or gas bill.  Two or three drying sessions might justify the cost of a dehydrator.

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