Filed under:

Three varieties of oven-dried tomatoes

Introduction

It has been a year since I posted this recipe. A number of you asked me how long the tomatoes will last. I can now reveal that they retain an excellent flavour for 3-6 months, but mine began to degrade after that. Full disclosure: I didn't exactly follow my own storage advice and instead had them in full view, they look so pretty, so this winter they are going into a cool dark cupboard. Promise :)

The climate in Misse is perfect for growing tomatoes, but for sun-dried tomatoes, you need an intense heat and a very long season, such as that found in Sicily or Southern Spain. Oven drying is an excellent substitute.

We have three smaller varieties of tomato growing in the kitchen garden.
San Marzano - the celebrated Italian sauce tomato, we have grown a small variety
Red Pear - a beauty on the vine, very sweet and a little bigger than a cherry tomato
Sun Belle - golden colour, intense sweetness and cherry-sized when ripe
We are treating each variety according to its moisture content. This also allows you to compare what adding different ingredients brings to the flavour. Here is a pasta recipe that makes good use of them.

Three varieties of tomato

Tips

Use ripe but unblemished fruit. Fruit that has split may already have mold spores.

To sterilise our jars we run them through a full dishwasher cycle then place them on a tray in the oven at 130°C\250°F\gas mark ½ until we were ready to bottle.

If you wish to store for a number of months, using a tongs dipped in boiling water prior to use, dip each tomato piece in a bowl of cider or wine vinegar before placing in the oil. This creates an environment in which bacteria cannot grow.

Once in a sterilised jar stir them around and press them down to ensure that no air bubbles are trapped and make sure that the oil covers everything.

Store in a cool dark cupboard. You can also store in the fridge but the oil will solidify.

Removing the core of the tomato

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes, 1k\2lbs of of each variety
  • 1 litre (33 fl oz) Olive oil
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary, thyme, savoury or ½ teaspoon of dried herbs (optional)
  • Salt

Removing the seeds

Tools of the Trade

  • Baking sheets lined with baking paper\parchment
  • Sterilised jars (see Tips above)

Tomatoes drying in the oven

Method

Heat the oven to 120°C\250°F gas mark ½.

San Marzano

Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the core and de-seed them; this intensifies the flavour. Toss them in a bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil and a large pinch of salt. Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs or ½ teaspoon of dried (optional).

Place the tomato halves skin side down on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven to dry for 3-4 hours; they should still be moist.

Red Pear

Simply cut them in half and place skin side down on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven to dry for 2½ hours.

Sun Belle

Using a sharp knife make an incision in each tomato, this will allow moisture to escape and evaporate. Gently toss the tomatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and herbs, if using, as above.

Place the tomatoes on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven to dry for 3-4 hours; they will still be moist.

The whole cherry tomatoes will only last a matter of days or a couple of weeks because they are more likely to trap air pockets.

Directions for all varieties

Open the oven door every 30-60 minutes to allow moisture to escape.

When each batch of tomatoes has cooled, place them in a sterilised jar and top up with olive oil, until they are just covered.

For storing tips see above.

Suggestion

You can also add garlic to the mixture. The low drying temperature will ensure that its flavour is not impaired. Do not use raw garlic at the bottling stage, as it provides a perfect vehicle for mold.

'Herbes de Provence' is a good dried herb mixture to use.