Sweet Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes
A bumper crop of cherry tomatoes makes for sweet, scrum-delyicious Oven ‘Sun-Dried’ Tomatoes to be used on everything from homemade pizza to chicken cutlets in tomato cream. Best part is, the method is largely hands-off.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes
Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes are EASY in your home oven with a couple of baking sheets, some parchment, salt, and a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes! Low and slow is the name of this drying game, your oven only creeping as high as 250 degrees F. The tomatoes are slowly heated, then roasted, than dries to a sweet and leathery-likeness.
Placed into clean jars with tight-fitting lids, use garlic cloves, fresh basil, oregano, or hot red pepper seeds to enhance the olive oil you’ll use to preserve these gorgeous jewels of summer. In addition to kicking chicken up a notch for your family’s dinner table, these make beautiful gifts when coupled with a recipe for pizza and a ball of homemade pizza dough!
Among the zillion recipes floating around for use of cherry tomatoes, is an easy and genius method for preserving tomatoes….using your oven.
Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes are sweet, easy to do, natural in color with nothing weird added, and keep for several weeks in the fridge. Have you planted a few cherry tomato plants only to find yourself inundated with the little gems?
Follow along, because if you are already at the point of giving pints away to neighbors, consider “gifting” these jarred versions of summer’s friendliest member of the garden instead. I have personally found that friends LOVE receiving these as summertime gifts.
Do you have what’s needed to make Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes? Check the list!
at least 2-pounds of fresh tomatoes
flakey sea salt
optional olive oil for preserving
optional additions to enhance flavor
fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme
red pepper flakes
How This Method Came About…
This method was requested by a reader in conjunction with my post for Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce. A few weeks back, I posted that delightful comfort food dish in which this sun dried tomatoes recipe played the lead role. I merely referenced using homemade sun-dried tomatoes one time in the post.
To date, I have received MANY requests for my homemade method. The first reader to request it said it best; she had planted more than she and her family could possibly eat. Rather than buying store bought sun-dried tomatoes for the chicken recipe, she wanted to be able to use some of what she had. But how on earth do you sun dry a tomato?
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
I recommend playing Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes up the best you can. What do I mean? You all know my argument for herbs. And you also know YOUR eaters and what they like. Add the ‘enhancements’ that you know your family enjoys. Keep in mind that anything you add, regardless of how much you add, will be very subtle.
In addition to using summer’s loudest member of the garden, basil, I use thyme, and garlic for these tomatoes. Just snip off what you want to use, rinse, and then dry on paper towels or whirl up in your salad spinner.
For the garlic, smash a clove or two and pop into the jar as you are packing it. No need to even peel it. I also sometimes add micro-chives, bulb and plant, whole and intact. Any acid from the tomatoes will begin to break down the micro-chives, imparting their flavor in the process.
Oven ‘Sun-Dried’ Tomatoes are a fragrant, intensified taste of summer’s sultry days.
If you like things hot, try a pinch of red pepper flakes. Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes are meant to add tanginess and a slight sweetness to recipes. If you plan to add heat to a recipe, add it while you are cooking the recipe. Do not add it to the ingredients that go into the recipe. Those red pepper flakes tend to become bitter over time and could alter the taste.
I also recommend prepping as many tomatoes on as many baking sheets as will fit in your oven all at once. Any recipe for sundried tomatoes is a several hour long process. The more tomatoes you are able to dry, the more worthwhile the exercise will be.
Store in olive oil in the refrigerator or pack into a freezer bag once dry and place in the freezer for up to 3 months. I find the olive oil method works for my household, as they do not usually last very long with everything we use them in.
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes have a fresh intensity and clean taste containing the perfect balance of natural minerals to enhance any dish with no additives; since 1882; made with the same traditional artisan methods. Click image for pricing.
What Are The Best Kind Of Tomatoes To Use For Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes?
There is a whole lot of delicious natural sugar packed into each and every one of these bitty gems. To exploit this, use super fresh, super juicy small-ish tomatoes. Tomatoes which work fantastically include plum tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cherry berries, Campari’s, San Marzanos, and Roma tomatoes.
Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes are so incredibly flavorful, especially made with juicy ripe tomatoes at the height of their season. They are irresistibly delicious. The riper the tomato, the sweeter the dried outcome.
What To Make With Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes?
Think homemade pizzas and flatbreads, chicken and pasta dishes, toppings for crostini appetizers, and simply for snacking. Because these tomatoes may be packed in oil and refrigerated OR packed into freezer bags without oil and frozen, it makes their usage flexible.
Can Oven ‘Sun-dried’ Tomatoes Be Frozen?
YES! And frozen for up to 3 months if packed into appropriate freezer storage bags or vacuum-sealed bags. If you plan to freeze sundried tomatoes, you may opt to freeze with or without olive oil. When ready to defrost, simply remove a pouch from the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for about an hour on the countertop. Super easy.
Oven ‘Sun-Dried’ Tomatoes
- glass jars with tight-fitting lids such as canning jars
- baking sheets
- parchment paper
Ingredients for Oven 'Sun-Dried' Tomatoes
for the tomatoes
- 2 pounds fresh ripe Campari, San Marzano, Roma, or cherry tomatoes
- sea salt flakes
optional ingredients for storing and flavor
- olive oil
- fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and chives
- fresh garlic cloves
- red pepper flakes see notes
- peppercorns see notes
- Prepare storage jars with tight-fitting lids by sterilizing in a hot water bath. Remove from the bath using tongs and allow to dry completely.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet or sheets with parchment paper. Place a drying rack over the parchment.
- Preheat the oven to 250° F, or the lowest setting possible.
- Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. If using any tomato larger than a cherry tomato, scoop the seeds and pulp out and discard.
- Once all of the tomatoes have been sliced, place each tomato half, cut side up, on the drying rack leaving room between each and every tomato. Nobody should be touching.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with the flaked sea salt.
- Place baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 2.5 to 3.5 hours, or until the tomatoes are dehydrated and leathery, but not crispy. Check them every hour during drying.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. To store, transfer the sun-dried tomatoes to a jar or jars. If using garlic or herbs, tuck these in and around the tomatoes as you pack them. Pack the jars until full, but not too tight. Fill with a quality olive oil until the tomatoes and any extra ingredients are completely covered. Fasten lids and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, cooled tomatoes may be placed into freezer bags and frozen, without oil or additional ingredients, for up to 3 months.
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Thank you for sharing with us at the TFT party, Jenny! I’m so going to try this when my harvest comes in this Summer! I’m featuring you on Shoestring Elegance today at this week’s party! Congrats!
Theresa, oh my gosh! THANK YOU! They really are the easiest thing, and you feel good knowing they did not go to waste – let me know how you get on with them. I’d love to know how you use them in recipes 🙂 x – Jenny