Got more tomatoes than you know what to do with? Make your own delicious sun-dried tomatoes that you can eat throughout the year!
Sometimes our garden creates a good problem: too much food.
We’re eating our summer garden produce as fast as we can. We’re feeding it to our ducks. We’re giving away bunches of it to friends and family. No matter what we do, the piles of food on our countertops and in our fridge and on our tables are getting big enough to pose a health hazard.
Recently, Bob the cat was nearly felled by a cascading pile of heirloom squash. After rolling in fresh catnip and taking a lengthy nap, he seemed fully recovered from the trauma.
We even made a veggie fireworks display.
Every gardener needs to have a few long-term food storage methods
So, what do we do with all the extra piles of squash/zucchini, tomatoes, melons, chanterelle mushrooms, beans and other produce that have piled up around Tyrant Farms? Sure, we do a good bit of canning and pickling, but most gardeners are already familiar with those food-saving methods.
For the sake of brevity, we won’t delve into ALL of our favorite long-term storage methods for each type of excess produce. For now, we’ll just share one of our favorite ways to easily store a bunch of extra tomatoes: making soft & chewy sun-dried tomatoes!
If you’ve got a bunch of extra tomatoes lying around that you don’t know what to do with, we hope you’ll find this information helpful.
Looking for a quick & easy way to store lots of extra tomatoes?
We grew over 30 varieties of tomatoes this year, most of them heirlooms. One of the new hybrid varieties we’re growing is “Tumbling Tom” tomatoes. We wanted a few low-growing, cascading plants that produced huge amounts of early-ripening bite-sized tomatoes and our Tumbling Toms have done a beautiful job in this role.
Our four Tumbling Tom tomato plants easily produce a colander-full of tomatoes per day, and they’re just getting started.
These small tomatoes are perfect for “sun-drying.” We’re using quotation marks on “sun-drying” because we actually dehydrate them in our trusty Excalibur dehydrator (which takes about one day) rather than using a true sun-drying tomato method which can take over a week (or longer if it’s raining frequently).
Dehydrated sun-dried tomato recipe note…
One year we made a bunch of sun-dried tomatoes that had a great flavor profile, but they were a bit too hard and crunchy for our liking. We tweaked our method by adding olive oil to try to get a softer, chewier sun-dried tomato. We’re pleased to say, our new recipe works and tastes great!
Here’s how you can easily make your own sun-dried tomatoes:
Dehydrated soft and chewy sun-dried tomatoes
A quick and easy recipe to make delicious, soft and chewy sun-dried tomatoes that you can enjoy throughout the year.
- Vine-ripened tomatoes (any quantity)
- Extra virgin olive oil (1 tablespoon per 5 cups chopped tomatoes)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt per 5 cups chopped tomatoes
Step 1. Slice the tomatoes.
For small tomatoes, simply cut them in half and drop them in your bowl. Cut larger tomatoes into chunks about the size of a pingpong ball (they’ll shrink considerably when dried). See article images for ideal sizes.
Step 2. Add oil and salt.
Once your tomatoes are all cut and in the bowl, gently toss them in olive oil (this is what helps keep the skin soft) and sea salt (for flavor and extra preservative). Optional - at this point, you can also add whatever extra herbs you’d like but we prefer to keep ours plain.
Step 3. Dry.
Lay the tomato slices on your dehydrating racks at 125 degrees fahrenheit for about 24-48 hours. Do a taste test on your largest slices before considering them done. You do NOT want any moisture left in the tomatoes or they could turn bad during long-term storage. If you have any doubt that they're dried, continue dehydrating them.
Step 4. Cool & store.
When they’re done, let them cool to room temperature, then store them in an air-tight jar or ziplock bag for future use. As you can see from the photos, tomatoes (like all fruits and veggies) are mostly water, so they’ll lose a huge percentage of their mass when dried.
Step 5. Eat (our favorite step)!
We’ve eaten our sun-dried tomatoes over a year later and they still taste as good as the day they came off the rack. They’re absolutely delicious on homemade pizza, in pasta, or as a quick snack.
Pictures to help show you how to make dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes:
We hope you make and enjoy your own delicious homemade soft and chewy sun-dried tomatoes!