Preparation / Directions:
(This summer I dried tomatoes which I had grown, placed them in olive oil with garlic and discovered a wonderful treat.)
fresh plum tomatoes, picked fully ripe with no yellow or green spots and no bruises (you may substitute ripe cherry tomatoes with excellent results)
Why dry tomatoes? After drying a tomato, what is left is a shriveled, leathery tomato with a concentrated taste that is so good it has to be sampled to be believed!
There are two ways to successfully dry tomatoes at home: Dehydrator: (A dehydrator moves warm heat around the food at a constant temperature until all moisture is extracted and food is shriveled.) First cut the washed and dried tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side down on the drying racks that come with the dehydrator. Do not crowd too many tomatoes onto each rack. When racks are filled, place the cover on the dehydrator, turn on the switch as directed in instruction booklet and check periodically. This process can take 1 to 3 days, depending on size of tomatoes. For cherry tomatoes, the procedure is the same, but the drying time is about 1 day.
Oven Method: Place cut tomatoes plum and/or cherry on cookie sheets and then on the racks. Here too, it is important that heat circulate all around the tomatoes. Set the oven to 225 degrees and rotate racks for even drying. This takes about 2 days or a little longer.
To store for indefinite shelf life, either place dried tomatoes in freezer bags and freeze or pack the dried tomatoes in layers into clean jars filled with good quality olive oil, making sure all tomatoes are COMPLETELY covered by oil. To the latter method, you can add a few fresh leaves of basil for color, then store in tightly capped jars in a cool dark place.
Note: The oil-packed tomatoes are essential when used as part of an antipasto, wonderful in pasta salads and sensational on pizza. The frozen ones are better for use in soup and cannelloni, in sauces and baked breads and calzoni.