Oven Dried Tomatoes

August 24, 2010

When Aaron and I first got married, we immediately began house-hunting. We weren’t in any rush to find a house, but we had set aside a down payment and a good friend of ours was a realtor in the area. Though we both loved our charming, old apartment, I was itching to dig up some dirt and plant a garden, and Aaron liked the thought of paying a mortgage more than paying rent. The “first time home-buyers” credit wasn’t a bad incentive either. It didn’t take long before we had found the perfect house and were signing our names on the dotted line (more like 50 dotted lines).

We put our offer in on the house on April 9th and moved in May 1st.

Aaron had exchanged the monthly rent for a mortgage, and now it was my turn to get that garden. No more than two days after we moved in, I took began tearing up grass in the back yard and planting all sorts of seeds.

We planted carrots, onions, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, and all sorts of herbs. All the plants flourished in the summer heat, but none as much as the tomatoes. We had tomatoes pouring out our ears. We gave some away, made salsas, tomato sauces, marinaras, put them in salads and on sandwiches, and ate them plain until we couldn’t stand them anymore. I’d had no idea that four little plants could give me so much fruit.

Naturally, this year when I began planting the garden, tomato plants were a no brainer, and I was prepared to deal with a bountiful harvest.

But this year hasn’t exactly been a good year for tomatoes here in central Iowa. We have had a lot of rain followed by a lot more rain.  And my tomato plants didn’t like it.

Just when the pretty little fruit start to blush from green to pink, they also begin to rot. My remedy has been to bring them in green, and set them in the window sill to turn red. Its worked out for the most part.

Last year I found myself canning and making tomato sauces—desperately working to use up the crop—for several weeks of the summer, but with this year’s smaller crop, I can’t make enough sauce to make it worth my while. My remedy? Oven dried tomatoes.

They are a revelation. They are delicious. And they are so simple to make.

Oven Dried Tomatoes

I love these tomatoes on a salad, in pasta, on a sandwich, or just as a snack by themselves.

I used roma/plum and cherry tomatoes. If you want to use bigger tomatoes, slice them into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices.

Also, feel free to use a liberal amount of whatever herbs you have around, I particularly liked fresh thyme.

1-2 dozen roma tomatoes

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt

Pepper

fresh herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, etc.), roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Halve each tomato through the stem. Spread them out, cut side up, on a sheet pan. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar lightly over the tomatoes, followed by a little salt, fresh cracked pepper, and whichever herb you chose.

Throw the pan into the oven on the middle rack. Let them dehydrate for 1-2 hours, or until they are dried to your liking. Once they are done, pull them out of the oven. You can use them immediately, or layer them in a jar, and cover them with oil to preserve them.

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