As the name suggests, sun dried tomatoes require sunshine, accordingly it is best to make them at the height of summer when you have a number of consecutive hot sunny days. Many people make variations of this dish by drying their tomatoes in an low oven or a food dehydrator – both work okay but they are not true sun-dried tomatoes.
Ingredients – Stage One
2 kilos of plump ripe tomatoes but really it can be as many as you want
Ingredients – Stage Two
1 litre water
100 ml white vinegar
12 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
3 teaspoons mild or hot chilli pepper powder/flakes
½ cup dry oregano
½ cup dry basil
1 teaspoon salt
600 ml virgin olive oil (approximately)
Preparation – Stage One
1. Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and slice lengthwise, removing any hard core.
2. Squeeze each tomato half gently to remove some of the seeds and liquid, then set aside until all fruit is cut.
3. Place the cut tomatoes on wire rack (cut face upward) and sprinkle them with salt liberally (a good pinch of salt per tomato half is sufficient).
4. Place the wire racks in a sunny spot and if necessary cover them with fine netting so as to keep insects and birds away from the tomato flesh.
5. At dusk bring the tomatoes inside so they will not be victims to dew or animals and every morning return them to a bright sunny spot for a further day of airing and drying. It can take 2 or more days for the tomatoes to dry out, depending on the intensity of the sun and the size of the tomato halves.
6. Keep putting them out and bringing them in until the flesh is dry to the touch and has a soft, leathery texture. If necessary, when you put them out each day, turn them so the flesh dries from both sides.
Do not dry the tomatoes too much or the flesh will becomes too firm. Tomatoes that are dried too much will be tough and unappetising to eat.
Preparation – Stage Two
1. Once dried to the correct consistency. Mix the water and the vinegar in a bowl and gently wash each dried tomato.
2. Set the washed tomatoes out to dry off slightly.
3. Prepare a number of glass jars with screw top metal lids. Clean them thoroughly and then place them and their lids in a pot of water so they are fully submerged. Bring to boil and boil vigorously for 5 minutes so they are sterilised.
4. Remove jars and lids from the water and allow to air dry.
5. Take all the ingredients and line them up before you. Take a jar and place a small drop of olive oil in the bottom (approximately 1 teaspoon) and a sprinkle a small amount of the various herbs and spices into the bottom of the jar.
6. Place a handful of the dried tomatoes into the jar and press them down firmly. Sprinkle them with another small amount of the herbs and spices before placing another dollop of olive oil.
7. Repeat the process of layering the tomatoes, adding herbs/spices and a dollop of oil until the jar is full.
8. As you fill the jar, be certain that you press down the contents repeatedly and occasionally tap the jar so that all air is expelled from the layers.
Non Traditional Method
5. Place tomatoes, herbs and spices in a large bowl and coat with 300 millilitres of olive oil (½ the olive oil required).
6. Gently mix the ingredients again and again, ensuring that all the herbs, spices and oil is dispersed evenly. All the dried tomatoes need to have a thin film of oil coating them if not add more oil and mix again.
7. Once tomatoes are well coated, begin to fill the jars a little at a time, pressing the contents down as you go.
8. It is important that as you fill the jars you seek to expel any air pockets. If necessary add some extra oil and press the layers firmly.
9. Give the contents one final press and fill with olive oil so that the contents are completely covered and not exposed to air. A good centimetre of oil should be at the top of each jar.
10. Seal the jars with their metal lids and place in a cool, dark place for a few months.
- Use in antipasti, on fresh crusty bread or in a tomato meal to add a rich tomato flavour.