This recipe for sun dried tomatoes is a serious O.G. It’s been in the family vault for a good decade now and I seriously cannot imagine my life without ’em.
So, before you go off on how you can’t take any more tomato posts, prepare yourself, cause this surely ain’t the last one! Buuuuut, this is a recipe for Sun Dried Tomatoes!!! And like, the absolute PERFECT Sun Dried Tomatoes, at that. Truuuuust me, my parents have basically been at it for a good decade.
WHAT’S IN THE RECIPE FOR SUN DRIED TOMATOES?
First of all, you need a dehydrator. So, either buy one immediately (the wiser choice) or just stop reading now before you begin to salivate beyond control. Although I’ve been long time dreamin’ of making my very own batch of homemade Beef Jerky, this recipe, and this recipe alone, made me get mine!!!
Second, just know that we’re not gonna get as technical and formal as I normally do when putting up a recipe. Getting exact measurements from Italian parents is like pulling teeth, ya know what I’m sayin’? Everything is measured by ‘eye’ and guesstimates but still manages to come out perfect every time. So, bare with us. With a little bit of this and a little bit of that, you’ll have some heavenly jars of Sun Dried Tomatoes you can add to any recipe. Or, just do what I do and take ’em straight outta the jar and put them directly into your pie hole. We never judge!
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The reason that this recipe for sun dried tomatoes is the best is because we use the best tomatoes! You want to start with some San Marzano Tomatoes and make it a point to get the smallest outta the bunch. In general, the smaller, the better. They have a thick inner wall (aka meaty), very few seeds, low water content, an oval-ish shape and a pointy tip. Cut them in half and voila…ready to dry! We normally go for a bushel or two to get about 10 small jars of tomatoes but use less if you want less. My dad guesses that one large baking sheet = about 25-30 tomatoes = 50-60 halves and therefore, 1 small jar.
PRO TIP: This is a pretty lonnnng (but totally worth it) process. Therefore, to kick-start it and shave off a bit of time, my parents have come up with the genius idea of throwin’ the halves in the oven at the beginning. To do this, turn the oven on to verrry low (almost minimum, according to them) and spread the tomato halves in a single layer, cut side up, on a big baking sheet. Then, place ’em in the oven on the lowest rack for 1-2 hours. (Seeeee what I mean about the guesstimates…lol).
AFTER THE (OPTIONAL) TRIP TO THE OVEN
Lay ’em out in the dehydrator and turn it on. Generally, this part normally takes us 8-10 hours (the time it takes you will depend on your dehydrator and if you’ve used the oven kickstart method). My parents like to rotate the trays every so often (they have an old dehydrator lol) however you may not have to. Just keep checking every few hours to see if everything is being evenly dried out.
Once you’ve reached the 8 hour mark, have a large empty bowl handy. You’ll open the dehydrator and pick out the ones that are ready. Ready means dried but still bendy when you press them between your fingers. In general, you don’t want them to be moist, squishy or hard at all. Put the ‘ready ones’ in the bowl. Then, toss ’em in a splash of olive oil to keep them coated while waiting for the others. This avoids mould. Keep adding new tomato halves to the dehydrator trays as you take the done ones out. Do this until 0 tomatoes remain and all have been equally dried. Once your bowl has all the sun-dried tomatoes, you’re ready to jar.
THE SO-CALLED RECIPE FOR SUN DRIED TOMATOES
YOU WILL NEED COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF:
*Chopped Garlic (not minced)
*Mason Jars with 2 Piece Separable Lid (size is up to you) We like doing some 16oz mason jars and some 8 oz mason jars for gifts and things
*Pestle or something similar
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SUN DRIED TOMATOES
Add lots of chopped garlic, oregano and salt to the lightly coated Sundried Tomatoes in the big bowl – I mean a llllllot but go based on your own preference. Give it a good stir to ensure that everything is well combined.
Add the tomatoes to the jars, a couple spoonfuls at a time and cover with olive oil. Push ’em down using the pestle til they’re nice and compact, trying your best to squeeze out all the air. Add a few more spoonfuls, some more oil and repeat the process until the jar is mostly full. IMPORTANT: Leave a few inches of space at the top of each jar in case the tomatoes expand, leaving room for ’em to grow. Ensure that all the tomatoes are below the oil.
Cut a circle of parchment paper out to fit the opening of the jar and loosly place it over top the oil. Put the sealing compound (flat metal lid) over the jars and store ’em in a cool dry place (cantina aka Italian cellar = best).
For the next few days, you’ll check on your tomatoes to ensure that no oil is overflowing (most of the time, it’s not if you’ve left those few inches). You may have to top the oil up in certain cases to ensure that the tomatoes remian below the oil at all times. 1-2 weeks after everything is going okay and as planned, you may seal the jars with the ring piece. For best results, leave ’em sealed in a cool dry place for 3 weeks to a month (including the 1-2 weeks of checking).
Go find 10000 new recipes to use these killer sun dried tomatoes on! I like adding them to Pasta dishes like this Pasta with Cauliflower with Bacon or throwing them inside this Swiss Chard Roll for an added burst of flavour!
**Always remember to continuously top up the olive oil and push the remaining tomatoes below the oil after each use
**You can store these in the fridge as you’re using ’em. We keep one jar at a time in the fridge after they’re ready to go, for easy access and quick snacking 😉
However you like! I love them on their own, with crackers, alongside these Classic Roasted Red Peppers, for instance. They’re good on anything from Pizza to Burgers (try ’em on these Hidden Zucchini Turkey Burgers or these Spinach and Artichoke Millet Burgers). You can even have them for breakfast in these Veggie Egg Cups. See what I’m getting at?
Unopened jars are best stored in a cool, dry and dark place. A cupboard will work fine. We keep ours in the Cantina (aka Italian style cellar, if you know, you know). Opened and in use jars can be stored in the fridge (always ensure all of the tomatoes are submerged in the oil at all times). You may notice the oil harden when it’s cold and this is completely normal. Just set it on the counter for a few minutes to soften.
It’s tried and true. The best tomatoes. Many years of experience. Lots of blood, sweat and tears (not really though, they’ve actually been really good at it since day one). All thanks to my lovely parents.