Carol from E17 responded to my question ‘what to do with a glut of cherry tomatoes?’ by suggesting oven drying them. Being rather partial to sun-dried tomatoes, and knowing how expensive they can be, it sounded a great idea as I could then enjoy them throughout the year.
A Google search brought up three methods: sun baking, oven drying and microwaving. All started with halving the tomatoes and scooping out the seeds with a spoon. I began with a tea spoon but soon found thumb and finger quicker and easier.
Sun baking required placing the tomatoes on a tray and leaving outside for a couple of days, bringing them in at night: rather like the washing. Now I know we’ve had lots of sun, but for some reason the neighborhood’s cats, just love our garden. Whilst they’re generally well behaved, I’m not sure I fancy eating cat-nibbled, fur-brushed tomatoes or even rain-drenched tomatoes. One idea discounted, two to go.
Microwaving sounded much quicker. The halved and deseeded tomatoes were placed on a tray in the microwave in a single layer. The recipe suggested cooking on high for 15 minutes before pouring off any excess liquid. They were then to be gently turned, patting the pulp back into the skins, before microwaving on high for another 10 to 15 minutes until completely collapsed and dried out but still supple.
Because I was using small cherry tomatoes, I reasoned they wouldn’t need as long and set the timer for 10 minutes rather than 15. I opened the door to find what can only be described as a mess. Many had burnt whilst the flesh of others had disappeared into the ether leaving a crisp, thin, flaky skin. One of two were salvaged but definitely needed no further cooking. The rest were dispatched to the Wiggly Wormers compost bin.
Deciding that perhaps the slow method was the best, I drizzled with oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, placed on a rack, cut side up, over a tray and put in the oven on the coolest setting for three hours. Scarred by the microwave experiment, I checked after two hours and was pleased to see they were shriveling nicely. After three hours they did resemble sun-dried tomatoes. They were left to cool and put in a jar with garlic oil. Even though I say it myself, they are actually delicious and great sprinkled in salads.
If you’ve tried any method of drying tomatoes, do let me know how you got on by e-mailing email@example.com.