The most important thing that got me attracted to my current abode is that it’s very well lit. There’s a lot of sunlight coming into the house. I get rising sunlight straight into my kitchen, so the kitchen and all the other rooms feel quite bright. I had shared a few pictures of my kitchen on my FB page earlier.
While I was packing in Chennai, the one thing that I would keep aspiring to do once we settle down in our new abode was sun drying some home made potato wafers and to make a batch of sun dried tomatoes using the sunlight coming in my kitchen balcony. So, once we settled down, the first thing that I did was buying a large batch of plum red tomatoes for sun drying.
To start off, I decided to experiment with a small batch first. So, I just used 3-4 tomatoes and left them for sun drying in my kitchen balcony. I was very happy to see the drying on the first day but by the second day I saw fungus growing over it and I had to discard the batch. I realised that the balcony sunlight was not enough to dry the tomatoes completely. Moreover, with construction happening in the neighbourhood, I feared that the tomatoes would catch the dust particles in the air. So, the idea of making proper sun dried tomatoes went straight out of my kitchen balcony window!
A funny incident happened during this sun drying experiment. I had removed the seeds and kept them in a dish to dry out,so that I could plant them. The next day, I saw that the seeds had disappeared, so I put another batch for drying and that too disappeared. It left me puzzled and then after a few days I saw a huge rodent running in the balcony in the dark and my puzzle got solved. The rodent was using the pipelines to climb up and create all the mess in the dark. We got the pipeline area blocked immediately using a steel mesh to stop it’s entry.
After going through so much problems, I decided to make oven dried tomatoes instead of sun dried and experimented again with a small batch. The experiment turned out successful so I made a big batch of oven dried tomatoes. It just requires a total of 2hours from beginning till end, to make a batch of oven dried tomatoes which are much more hygienic, cheaper as compared to what we buy readymade and no flavour gets compromised. Moreover, one doesn’t have to wait for any sunlight or summers to make a batch of these dried tomatoes.
They are so easy to make and make an excellent gift. Just put them in beautiful jars and gift them to your friends. I used 1.5Kg of Tomatoes which yielded me about 300gms of dried tomatoes. These sun dried or oven dried tomatoes can be used later to make pesto, pilaf, pasta sauce and much more..
Sun Dried/ Oven Dried Tomatoes In Olive Oil
Preparation Time: 30minutes| Baking Time: 1hour 30mins| Makes: about300gms | Difficulty level: Moderate
1.5kg firm, red tomatoes
1tsp crushed black pepper
1tsp sugar (optional)
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
about 1-1/2cups of olive oil
Wash the tomatoes and wipe them dry with a napkin.
Tip the tomatoes and then cut them into four pieces. Ensure that all tomatoes are of the same size, this ensures even drying.
Remove the seeds of the tomatoes, now this is completely optional but I did remove them.
Take a baking tray and spread the tomatoes evenly on a lightly greased tray. Keep them with the skin side down.
Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the tomatoes. Also, sprinkle the sugar. Adding sugar is completely optional but it adds a light sweetness to the tomatoes and I liked the caramel effect that it imparts to the tomatoes.
Preheat the oven at 200C. Bake the tomatoes at 200C for 30mins and then reduce the temperature to 150C and bake for an hour more.
After an hour check once on the tomatoes. Remove the tomatoes which appear to have dried completely. To confirm complete drying, press the tomatoes lightly using fingers and observe for pulpiness and moisture. If they appear soft and moisture is still visible, they need to be dried more.
Cool the dried tomatoes completely and then transfer them to a clean jar. Put a few pieces of dried tomatoes and top them with a sprig of rosemary. Keep repeating the process.
At the end fill the jar with olive oil such that all the tomatoes are completely immersed in olive oil and the jar still has some space left above.
Store in the refrigerator. This stays well for 3-4months.
Notes:1. Use firm red tomatoes. Use hybrid tomatoes and not the local Indian tomatoes for better flavour.
2. One can add more flavourings or no flavourings to the tomatoes based on their choice.
3. Adding fresh herbs adds more flavour but that’s completely optional. One can just store oven dried tomatoes in olive oil.
4. The tomatoes can be sliced or cut into wedges, choice is yours. Just ensure that the thickness of the wedges or slices is not less than an inch thick. Else the tomatoes will become wafer thin on drying.