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sun-drying your own tomatoes

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i would like to try this out for the first time ever...but i have no clue as to the correct process. any help would be greatly appreciated.

also, what could you employ, to protect the tomatoes from flys...cheescloth?

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  1. One year we dried tomatoes outside (but since then have used the electric dehydrator which is faster and easier). We made a wooden frame about 2x3 feet and tacked a screen onto one side of it. The tomatoes went in and then another layer of screen - you could use cheesecloth. Just be sure to tack it down really well with staples or flies do get in. Keep in the sun and take it inside at night to avoid moisture in the morning. You need consistently dry weather or it takes a while. Please report back.

    1. Ach, sundrying tomatoes is too much of a hassle. You have to deal with humid days and insects. Virtually all of "sundried tomatoes" available commercially are oven dried, anyway. Much preferred, by me, are oven roasted tomatoes. Cut paste tomatoes in half lengthwise, pull out the seeds (optional), drizzle with EVOO, and roast at 175 degrees for two or three hours. Stuff into ziplock bags and toss into the freezer for a fresh tomato flavor in the winter. These are so superior to anything you can buy (except for Divina brand) that I encourage you to do this absolutely.

      I've also made sundried tomato paste, and that is a different story. Intense, deeply flavored paste without any suggestion of burning or carmelization. This is worth doing, in my opinion.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pitterpatter

        Agreed -- oven dried tomatoes are amazingly good.

        1. re: pitterpatter

          Just let them sit at room temp until cool? Freeze individually first before stuffing in the bag? Do you use them just as you would purchased sun dried tomatos? Thanks. I am about to have a million San Marzanos ripen at the same time...this might be more interesting than just making sauce.

        2. do you think I could use a toaster oven?

          1. I wouldn't use a toaster oven -- the setting should be really low. Danna, I cool them to room temperature, but do not freeze them individually. I make far too many for any extra fuss. I simply stuff a handful into a ziplock, then toss it into the freezer. When making a stew or whatever, one or two bags are usually the right amount. Also, simply whiz them in a food processor for a great, and instant, tomato sauce for pasta. You can also freeze or refrigerate them covered in oil (and chopped garlic, fresh basil, whatever you prefer.) Have fun with your San Marzano plants. Last year, my 3 plants yielded at least 900 tomatoes! I roasted about a third of them, then used the rest for ketchup, an indian chutney, and a horseradish-tomato salsa, all of which I am still enjoying. Actually, the last jar of ketchup was used on July 4, and I guess, not a minute too soon.

            1. Thanks PitterPatter. I made the oven roasated tomatos Sunday and they are great. I've had to hide them from my husband who wants to eat them like chips.

              I sliced the San Marzanos into rounds, and they are beautiful. I think they'll make nice toppers for hors d'ouerves. Also planning to make some sort of pasta dish with them.

              How is best to store them for short term use. Room temp OK? Will they get soggy in the fridge? thanks again.