Drying tomatoes in the dessert sun is super economical and far more comfortable than turning on the oven in the kitchen when it’s 108° F. outside. The process is simple and safe…the results are as good as store-bought and you know who, in what, and where they came from. Sun-dried fruits and vegetables are intensely flavorful and healthy so long as they’re not treated with chemical preservatives. The only thing drying does is evaporate the water content…the vitamins and flavors are still there and undiluted.
Cherry tomatoes are perfect for drying in the sun. A solar-dehydrator works perfectly and can be made with a box painted black and piece of window glass to cover the top. Cut a 2-inch hole in the bottom of the box and the top of one side. Cover holes with mesh or screen to keep the insects out. This will allow air to flow in and out. Place on a table or chair in the yard where direct sun will hit it throughout the day.
When the tomatoes are dry but still rubbery they’re ready to dress and preserve in oil. You can add whatever herbs you’re fond of and olive oil or a combination of canola oil and olive oil. If you add salt, dissolve it in a little lemon juice first or crush it with cloves of garlic before adding to the jar.
For best storage, pack in 8 oz. sterilized jars, pour hot oil up 1/2-inch from rim and immediately seal. Store in a cool dry pantry for 1 week before using. Refrigerate when opened and use within 6 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using. Use sun-dried tomatoes in salads, soups, sandwiches, hors d’eouvres and antipasto.
- 12 oz fresh ripe cherry tomatoes
- 6 or 7 dried basil leaves
- 1/4 tsp sea salt in 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic bruised
- 1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- Wash tomatoes and slice in half. Place on a icing screen or cake rack. Make sure air can flow under the rack.
- Cover tomatoes with a single layer of cheesecloth and place in direct sunlight for the day.
- If tomatoes are not dry and rubbery by night-fall, remove tomatoes to indoors overnight.
- Turn each tomato half over and place back in the sun the following day.
- Pack dried, rubbery tomatoes in a sterile 8 oz. jar. Add crushed garlic, salt, basil and pepper flakes.
- Heat oil to hot but not smoking and pour into jar up to 1/2 inch from top rim. With a skewer or knife move the contents around a bit to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rim and seal immediately.