Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Okay so they're not "sun dried" but oven dried. It's really the same thing though. Isn't it? I'm saying yes. Tomatoes become super sweet and their flavor intesifies as they are drying which gives a boost to lots of different dishes. I will tell you that it take hours upon hours and even some more hours after that to produce sun dried tomatoes. This is probably why they're so darn expensive in stores. However, it is harvest season, so you should be able to go to your local farmers or farmer's market and pick up some incredible tomatoes for a reasonable price. I get mine from two different farmers. The tomatoes I canned and made tomato sauce from, cam from my friends over at Blue Marble Farm. The sweet little beauties that I decided to dry came from Living Acres Farm. So why these guys and not my super market? Well that's easy enough to answer. Get a tomato from a local farmer, then get a tomato from you local super market. Now take a bite of each. The super market tomatoes taste like, well, nothing. Now the tomatoes from my farmer friends? Well each variety has their own taste. Some are sweet and less acidic. Some have that acid bite that people look for in a good tomato. Think that all tomatoes are these perfect round, pinkish red (and I use the word red loosely here), globes? You'd be wrong again. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. My favorite are these small deep purple, almost black in color. They make a great sweet snack and were the ones I kept raving about last year on facebook. My favorite this year has been these two or three bite yellow ones. I eat them as if they were an apple. You can't keep me away from tomatoes this time of year, which is probably why I ended up with 2+ bushels. When you find out what tomatoes are really like, they become almost like candy and something I can't leave alone. Oh and one more thing, the uglier the tomato, the better it tastes.  Onto the recipe shall we?

What You Need:

salt (optional)

What To Do:

You can peel the tomatoes if you choose. I did not as I had already peeled a good 200 tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the core. Remove the seeds. Depending on the size, you may need to quarter them. I used some smaller ones, the two biters as my fried calls them, so I just left them in half. Place them on a cooling wrack, that fits on a baking sheet. This is so that air can circulate around all sides of the tomatoes. Line your tomatoes up on the cooling wrack so that they do not over lap or touch. Give them a sprinkle of salt if you so desire and pop them into your oven. Now here's the hours and hours part. The lowest temp setting on my oven is 170 which was perfect for drying. I can't tell you how long it took. I put them in during the early afternoon and shut it off just before 10pm when I went to bed. They were getting close to being done at the time but I was worried that they would become over done if I let it go all night. So I turned the oven back on in the morning around 7am and by about 10:30 most of them were done. I have a few that were still a bit damp so I let them go a while longer. You know they're done when they don't feel sticky, wet or mushy. They should be leathery in feeling and not brittle. Brittle means they've "dried" to long. I let mine cool and stored them in a mason jar in my freezer. If you're going to use them within a week or so, you can soak them in olive oil but I haven't been able to find safely preserve them in oil unless you freeze them of course.

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