Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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You’ll never believe how easy it is to make sun-dried tomatoes in oil at home! This easy recipe is sure to have you preserving your tomato harvest in a fun new way.

It seems that every year, around this time, everyone I know is looking down the barrel of a bumper crop of ripe tomatoes. I am no different!

This year I have already preserved and canned over 50 pounds of tomatoes and have multiple boxes in the garage ripening (thanks to overnight frosts). Begrudgingly, but diligently, I head out to the garage each night and pick through my green tomatoes and set aside the ripe ones.

I picked an entire basket full of beautifully ripe Amish Paste tomatoes and decided they were destined to be more than just sauce!

This sun-dried tomato recipe is dedicated to destiny.

Overhead view of sun-dried tomatoes in oil.

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What Are Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

Sun-drying tomatoes is a centuries-old process of preserving the fruit so that it can be enjoyed in the winter months. The intense sun removes up to 90% of the water content in the tomatoes, resulting in a much smaller, more concentrated version of a regular tomato. Because of their intense flavor, sun-dried tomatoes are often used sparingly, as a little goes a long way.

While it is possible to buy sun-dried tomatoes at the store, it is also easy to make your own at home. Historically, the drying was done thanks to the sun’s energy, but nowadays, we can recreate the process in our home ovens!

The sun-dried tomato is a versatile ingredient that can add flavor and texture to a variety of dishes. While they may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, their intense flavor and chewy texture can add a unique depth to a dish. Though they are often associated with Italian cuisine, sun-dried tomatoes can be used in recipes from all over the world.

Sun-dried tomatoes in a baking tray.

Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> This might sound silly, but my favorite knife when working with tomatoes is a thin, serrated knife. A share straight blade also works, but I always find myself reaching for my yellow-handled “tomato knife”.

No. 2 –> I prefer to use paste tomatoes for this recipe, but this recipe is also a great way to use up a pile of cherry or plum tomatoes when the garden giveth!

No. 3 –> Don’t be tempted to rush it! This is very similar to dehydrating foods, and the drying process can take a number of hours. The best thing you can do is sit back and enjoy the intoxicating smell of your own tomatoes being preserved in your oven – even if it does take a long time!

Sundried tomatoes in oil.

Key Ingredients

Tomatoes: Choose a paste-style tomato whenever possible for this recipe. Paste tomatoes, like Romas, San Marzanos, or Amish Paste tomatoes are meatier tomatoes with fewer seeds and seed membranes. I like small-ish tomatoes, the larger they are the longer they will take to dry. For best results, use tomatoes that are ripe but still slightly firm. If they’re too ripe, they’ll be too soft and won’t hold up well during the preparation process. On the other hand, if they’re not ripe enough, they won’t have the same rich tomato flavor.

Salt: Tomatoes need salt. If I ever write a cookbook that will be the title. Some coarse sea salt or kosher salt goes a long way in this recipe. Avoid oversalting, though, because as the tomatoes dry out and the flavor concentrates, so too will the salt.

Ingredients required for sun-dried tomatoes.

Seasoning Sun-Dried Tomatoes

As written, this is a basic homemade sun-dried tomato recipe, BUT that’s not to say you can’t tailor it to your own tastes. It’s very easy to season these tomatoes, either during or after roasting.

Personally, I prefer to make a large batch of regular dried tomatoes and then season smaller portions of it at the end, if I feel like it.

During roasting: Due to the long bake time for these tomatoes, it’s important to add dried or fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time to ensure they don’t give off a bitter flavor. Feel free to add some fresh parsley, basil, oregano, or thyme. You can also add dried herbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, or even a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like it hot!

After roasting: Seasoning your sun-dried tomatoes after the drying process keeps fresh herbs vibrant and delicious in your recipes. Be cautious, though, as it is not recommended to season sun-dried tomatoes with fresh herbs when storing in oil, you’ll need to use dried herbs – see below for more information.

How To Make Sun Dried Tomatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 250f. If desired, prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the tomatoes by washing, drying, slicing in half, and removing the core.
  3. Place the tomatoes, in a single layer, cut side facing up on the baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle with salt. Then place in the oven at 250f, propping the door open with a wooden spoon.
  5. Roast the tomatoes until the moisture evaporates from them and they become pliable and soft, but not squishy. The tomatoes should not be baked to the point of brittleness.
  6. Allow tomatoes to cool on the baking sheet before transferring them to long-term storage.

How To Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes In Olive Oil

There are many ways to enjoy sun-dried tomatoes, but one of the tastiest is to simply store them in olive oil. This method preserves the tomatoes’ natural flavor while infusing them with the richness of extra virgin olive oil.

  1. Remove tomatoes from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and dry a half-pint mason jar and a lid in hot soapy water. Rinse clean and place on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry.
  3. Once completely cooled, season with desired dried herbs and spices.
  4. Pack the tomatoes into the jar tightly, then pour high-quality olive oil over the dried tomatoes to cover completely.
  5. Transfer to the fridge and store for up to 2 months.
Pouring olive oil over dried tomatoes.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes In Olive Oil, Is It Safe?

Food safety is incredibly important to me, and although I can buy tomatoes packed in oil at the store, I began to wonder about the safety of this preservation method. Because oil creates a perfect anerobic environment for botulism ( clostridium botulinum) to thrive, one must be incredibly careful with this method.

As of 2018, the NCHFP recommends against storing dried tomatoes in olive oil. The Oregon State Extension Service doesn’t outright denounce the process, but they do say:

Because of their acidity, unseasoned (i.e., no vegetables or herbs) fully dried tomatoes may be safely stored in oil at room temperature. (Refrigeration may delay rancidity, however). // The tomatoes can be flavored with dried herbs and garlic.

Dried tomatoes in oil can be used on pizza, pasta salads, appetizers, and Italian dishes. The oil can be used in vinaigrette dressing, or in a marinade sauce. It can also be used as a dip for French bread.

NOTE: Dried tomatoes-in-oil mixtures with garlic and/or herbs MUST be refrigerated and used within 4 days or frozen for long-term storage.

Oregon State Extension Service

While I can’t stop you from doing anything you want to do, I do recommend following the guidelines and avoiding the seasoning until you’re cooking with the tomatoes. Food poisoning is no joke!

The easiest thing is probably batch cooking the dried tomatoes, then storing them in the freezer and taking out enough to make one jar of sun-dried tomatoes at a time.

Sun-dried tomatoes in oil.

Batch + Storage

Batch:

The batch size for this recipe is a bit difficult to determine, as it depends on the size of the tomatoes uses, the ratio of pulp to water, and the level of ripeness. That said, you can generally expect about 1 lb of fresh tomatoes to equal 3/4 to 1 cup of dried tomatoes.

Storage:

Store your plain homemade sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge for up to 7 days in an airtight container, or lay them flat on a baking tray and freeze until solid before transferring them to a freezer-friendly container and storing them in the freezer for up to 12 months.

If you’re storing your tomatoes in oil, I would recommend storing them in a glass jar in the fridge. If using fresh herbs or garlic, use your jar of sun-dried tomatoes within 2-4 days. And if using dried herbs, use them within 2 months.

I don’t recommend storing the dry tomatoes at room temperature, though it can be done in an air-tight container. The reason for this is that these tomatoes are not dried completely, like a dehydrated tomato, and still hold some moisture, which is too much moisture for room temp storage, because it makes them susceptible to mold and decay at room temperature.

Sun-dried tomatoes in oil with garlic, oregano.

FAQ

How Do I Know When The Tomatoes Are Dry?

Your sun-dried tomatoes are done drying when they are soft and pliable. The tomatoes should look shrunken, and have no squish to them. Avoid over-drying the tomatoes, if they are baked beyond the state of being sun-dried, they become brittle and leathery, which is basically dehydrated tomatoes!

What Size Of Tomatoes Should I Use?

I like to use smaller tomatoes for this recipe, about the size of a small kiwi, saving the larger meatier Roma tomatoes for other preservation projects like sauce and salsa. It’s a great way to use small tomatoes without having to peel dozens of small tomatoes. Baby or cherry tomatoes would also work great for this recipe!

How Do I Rehydrate Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

It’s easy to rehydrate your oven-dried tomatoes if required. Place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water then set aside to rehydrate. Another method is to rehydrate them in hot tomato juice, warm red wine, or even broth for an even more intense flavor!

Don’t forget to save the rehydration water – toss it into your soup, pasta sauce, or stew!

Homemade sun-dried tomatoes in oil.

How To Use Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes offer a unique, tangy flavor that can enhance many dishes. The low and slow cooking concentrates the tomato’s sugars, resulting in a sweet and slightly smoky taste. These qualities make sun-dried tomatoes especially well suited for pairing with rich ingredients like cheese and pasta. When used judiciously, they can add depth and complexity to a dish without overwhelming other flavors.

Try using your special tomatoes in:

Large Baking Sheet: When I make large batches of my homemade sun-dried tomato recipe, I love using my huuuuuge Nordic Ware baking pans. There’s no wasted space in my oven with those big guys!

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📖 Printable Recipe

Sundried tomatoes in oil.

Easy Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Allyson Letal
Sun-dried tomatoes are a versatile ingredient that can add depth of flavor to many dishes. Their intense flavor comes from the process of drying, which concentrates the natural sugars and umami-rich compounds. When used judiciously, sun-dried tomatoes can add a lovely sweetness to your cooking.
4.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Elevated Ingredients
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 20 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

How To Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • Preheat the oven to 250f. If desired, prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Prepare the tomatoes by washing, drying, slicing in half, and removing the small core.
  • Place the tomatoes, in a single layer, cut side facing up on the baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with salt. Then place in the oven at 250f, propping the door open with a wooden spoon.
  • Roast the tomatoes until the moisture evaporates from them and they become pliable and soft, but not squishy. The tomatoes should not be baked to the point of brittleness.
  • Allow tomatoes to cool on the baking sheet before transferring them to long-term storage.

How To Pack Sun-Dried Tomatoes In Olive Oil

  • Remove tomatoes from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, wash and dry a half-pint mason jar and a lid in hot soapy water. Rinse clean and place on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to dry.
  • Once completely cooled, season with desired dried herbs and spices.
  • Pack the tomatoes into the jar tightly, then pour high-quality olive oil over the dried tomatoes to cover completely.
  • Transfer to the fridge and store for up to 2 months.

Notes

sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, is it safe?

As of 2018, the NCHFP RECOMMENDS AGAINST storing dried tomatoes in olive oil. The OREGON STATE EXTENSION doesn't outright denounce the process, but they do say:
Because of their acidity, unseasoned (i.e., no vegetables or herbs) fully dried tomatoes may be safely stored in oil at room temperature. (Refrigeration may delay rancidity, however). // The tomatoes can be flavored with dried herbs and garlic. Dried tomatoes in oil can be used on pizza, pasta salads, appetizers, and Italian dishes. The oil can be used in vinaigrette dressing, or in a marinade sauce. It can also be used as a dip for French bread.
NOTE: Dried tomatoes-in-oil mixtures with garlic and/or herbs MUST be refrigerated and used within 4 days or frozen for long-term storage.

seasoning sun-dried tomatoes

During roasting: Due to the long bake time for these tomatoes, it's important to add dried or fresh herbs near the end of the cooking time to ensure they don't give off a bitter flavor. Feel free to add some fresh parsley, basil, oregano, or thyme. You can also add dried herbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, or even a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like it hot!
After roasting: Seasoning your sun-dried tomatoes after the drying process keeps fresh herbs vibrant and delicious in your recipes. Be cautious, though, as it is not recommended to season sun-dried tomatoes with fresh herbs when storing in oil, you'll need to use dried herbs.

Batch:

The batch size for this recipe is a bit difficult to determine, as it depends on the size of the tomatoes uses, the ratio of pulp to water, and the level of ripeness. That said, you can generally expect about 1 lb of fresh tomatoes to equal 3/4 to 1 cup of dried tomatoes.

Storage:

Store your plain homemade sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge for up to 7 days in an airtight container, or lay them flat on a baking sheet and freeze until solid before transferring them to a freezer-friendly container and storing them in the freezer for up to 12 months.
If you're storing your tomatoes in oil, I would recommend storing them in a glass jar in the fridge. If using fresh herbs or garlic, use them within 2-4 days, and if using dried herbs, use them within 2 months.
I don't recommend storing the dry tomatoes at room temperature, though it can be done in an airtight container. The reason for this is that these tomatoes are not dried completely, like a dehydrated tomato, and still hold some moisture which is susceptible to mold and decay at room temperature.

Nutrition

Serving: 11/4 cupCalories: 20kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 6mgPotassium: 269mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 945IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 0.3mg
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4 Comments

  1. Are the sun dried tomatoes able to be canned if I make it covered in oil & spices? I want to use my tomatoes from my garden to make it, but nothing is giving me a definite Yes or No! It seems like it would be ok! What do you think?

  2. How long can sun-dried tomatoes last in oil without dry seasoning? you said with dry seasoning it lasts for two months but what about without though? is it still two months as well?