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One of our favorite maximizers-of-garden-goodness is Sundried Tomatoes (they’re actually oven dried, or dehydator dried, but neither of those sounds quite right). Whether you have a dehydrator or not, these little gems are worth your while. During the winter, we add them to pasta and pizza to get a fresh-from-the-garden-in-the-dead-of-winter pick me up.
To make these lovelies-
Collect (or buy!) a bucketful of tomatoes. Almost every variety works to some degree, but our favorites are Romas (or anything medium to large sized without many seeds). Cherry and grape tomatoes are delicious, but take longer to dry. Also, we grew several new varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year (the little orange ones and the medium-ish yellow ones), so we are just trying those ones out for the first time this year (I can happily report- so far, so good).
Thinly slice the tomatoes (emphasis on thinly). If they’re super small, like grape or cherry tomatoes, just cut them in half.
If you have a dehydrator, line them up on each level…
…if you don’t, spread out the tomato slices on a cookie sheet that’s be sprayed with olive oil (warning- this little tomato drying process is hard on cookie sheets… a couple years ago, I finally just bought one specifically for sundrying and I just don’t let it bother me that, regardless of scrubbing, the thing never looks clean).
Whether your tomato slices are spread out on dehydrator plates or a cookie sheet, the next few steps are the same- drizzle with olive oil (LIGHTLY), sprinkle with coarse salt and herbs (whatever you have around, italian herbs never disappoint, but I also lo-ove using a generous sprinkling of rosemary, so experiment to see what you like best).
Now, dehydrator folks can just turn on their dehydrator for the next several hours (keep checking for done-ness). If you’re making these in an oven, wait until a couple hours before your bedtime and then put the cookie sheet(s) in the oven at 200 degrees for two hours. After the two hours are up, turn the oven off, but leave the cookie sheet(s) in the oven over night (resist the urge to check on them- it’ll let the warm air out and nullify this step).
To store, place your sundried tomatoes in freezer bags and keep in the freezer (if you’re like us, you’ll want to keep a jar at the ready in the fridge as well!). We like to freeze serving sized portions for easy use. They’ll last 6-9 months (we usually run out around March).
Trust me when I say that your pizzas and pastas this winter will be so. much. better. for your time investment now!