Change is in the air.
Do you feel it? There's a subtle shift in the quality of light. In the direction of the wind. In the early morning chill.
Fall. She's coming for us, friends.
And with her comes the promise of crisp air and wool slippers and thermoses upon thermoses of steaming tea. If I'm honest, I am looking forward to the change. To the cold. To the opportunity to turn my attention inward and set intentions and slow down. As a homebody, there are few things I love more than the idea of stockpiling the root cellar for a few months of cozy hibernation.
Putting up the summer's harvest is a lovely way to mentally (and practically) prepare for the coming season. While I love the idea of flitting around the kitchen, canning every ounce of the garden's bounty, my crippling fear of botulism keeps my aspirations at bay. Dehydrating has become one of my favorite ways to preserve seasonal food without the fear of accidentally poisoning all my friends and family. That's what you call a win-win.
I normally put this recipe to work on the hundreds of sweet cherry tomatoes bursting from the garden this time of year, but getting married in July put a serious damper on our garden time and the harvest has been pretty meager. A trip to the local farmer's market was necessary to supplement our few lonely tomatoes, (and, admittedly, as an excuse to traipse around with this gorgeous new market basket we received as a wedding present from our dear friends at Rabbit Rung Puppetry and Love Yoga. It makes me feel like I am in a provincial fairy tale, which I am pretty sure is my natural state of being.)
Full disclosure: these tomatoes aren't actually "sun-dried." They are oven or dehydrator dried. But I promise they taste (almost) as good as if they were painstakingly turned for days under the mediterranean sun. And your kitchen will smell like a Tuscan delicatessen. So there's that.
These little beauties only take about 10 mins of hands-on time and keep wonderfully in the fridge. They are perfect for tossing into everything from pastas and salads, to cheeseboards and omelets. So pour yourself a splash of lemoncello and roll up your sleeves. Tomato season is upon us! But not for long...
Note: This is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. No specific measurements are provided as it is one of those "season to taste" types of projects. Feel free to supplement and experiment with your favorite spices.
- Cherry tomatoes (other varieties will work as well, but cherry tomatoes are my personal fav)
- Olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- Dried thyme
- Dried basil
1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters depending on size. The larger the pieces, the longer they will take to dry.
2. Add the sliced tomatoes to a large bowl. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat all the tomatoes (usually about 1 TBS). Season to taste with salt, pepper, thyme and basil. I sometimes throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar as well.
3. If you don't have a food dehydrator, I can't recommend them enough. They are seriously my favorite kitchen tool. I purchased this one on Amazon a few years ago and we get a ton of use out of it for everything from kale chips and fruit leather, to dried herbs and oranges. This thing pays for itself in time and deliciousness.
Dehydrator: Place the tomato slices skin down, cut side up on the drying racks of your dehydrator. Set the temperature to 140° F and leave to dry for 8 - 10 hours. Flip after about 6 hours. Texture is all a matter of preference, I like mine a bit crispier so I dry them for the full 10 hours. I would recommend checking in a few times until they reach your desired texture. They should be leathery and dry.
Oven: Preheat the oven to 170° F or as low temp as it will go. Place the tomatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven, leaving the door propped open a few inches. Bake for 3 hours, then flip tomatoes. Continue to bake until they reach your desired texture (usually about 8 hours.) I would recommend checking in every hour near the end until they reach your desired texture. They should be leathery and dry.
Note: I haven't used the oven method in years since we purchased our dehydrator. You may need to add or decrease baking time depending on the size of your tomatoes and your oven. It goes without saying, but always babysit the oven when it is on for extended periods like this.
4. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
Have a lovely week dear ones.