Homemade Sun-Roasted Tomatoes

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Introduction: Homemade Sun-Roasted Tomatoes

Can It! Challenge

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Can It! Challenge

It's late Summer and we're at the peak of an abundant Tomato season. 

This is the perfect time to take advantage of the heat wave by making your own fresh Sun-Roasted and Sun-dried Tomatoes at home... and outside, of course! 

Even if you aren't a gardener, there's no reason to deny yourself. Visit the local Farmers' Market or the produce section of your supermarket. Tomatoes are on sale right now so stock up and get busy.

Naturally sun-roasted and sun-dried tomatoes have a richer taste than their watery blanched/canned-tomato cousins. The flavor is more tomato-intense and there's just something magical in every rich, meaty, sensual bite.

This simple process can take anywhere from 6 hours to a several days, depending on the humidity and how hot your weather is, but these savory tomatoes are well-worth the wait.

You'll learn how EASY it is to sun roast and sun dry tomatoes by harnessing solar energy right in your own backyard. 

Take advantage of the sunshine while you can because neither Tomato Season or Summer ever seem to last long enough!

Step 1: Equipment and Guidelines:

Harnessing the Sunshine:

There are several ways to harness sunshine without building anything special or elaborate.

I use the cargo area of my SUV, but the dash or backseat of your car will work just fine as long as you can keep the racks somewhat level.

No automobile? A BBQ grill or Hibachi (with a lid) sitting in the sunshine will also generate enough heat to get the job done without a dehydrator and without turning your oven on. 

The maximum temperature when sun roasting or sun drying can be as high as 140 degrees. The minimum temperature should be kept above 100 degrees. A candy or meat thermometer can be helpful but it's not necessary. You already know what HOT is. ;-)

At Night:  Bring the tomatoes inside when the temperature drops and the relative humidity rises. If the racks are portable, just bring the whole kit-and-kaboodle inside. Return them outside in the morning only after the dew has passed.

Drying racks are needed:  They allow air to circulate around your tomatoes and expedite the drying time.

I re-purpose small freezer racks because they can be stacked together as shelves and they're portable. A sheet of foil, attached to the bottom, catches any drips

If you're using a BBQ Grill, just cover the grate with aluminum foil and cut slits between the bars.

If flies are a nuisance in your area, place a sprig of fresh Basil next to your roasting/drying tomatoes. No Basil? A few dried Bay leaves will repel insects, too. Here's an informative website that offers all kinds of helpful advice for repelling insects naturally... and it's not just about 'maters, either. ;-)

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/herbs-deter-flies-naturally.html

What Variety of Tomatoes to use:  

Paste tomatoes such as Roma, Plum and Pear Tomatoes are the preferred variety, but just about any variety will sun roast and sun dry when properly sliced. Roma-type tomatoes are ideal because have a lot of pulp and few seeds. Even Cherry and Grape tomatoes roast and dry beautifully because of their small size. Beefsteak-type tomatoes are wonderful, too, but they need to be sliced thinner and de-seeded first.

Ripe tomatoes are preferred. Even over-ripe tomatoes are fine! I've never tried to sun-roast or sun-dry green tomatoes before, so if you decide you'd like to experiment, I'd love to hear the results!

A few tips to remember:
  1. Start your tomatoes in mid-morning to take full advantage of the entire days' sunshine.
  2. Once your tomatoes are settled on the drying rack and blissfully soaking up the heat, just leave them be.  Don't open the doors on your car or the BBQ Lid for at least 6 hours unless you are bringing the racks in for the night. Frequently opening the door/lid to check on your lovely tomatoes will slow the roasting/drying time immensely. Resist the urge. They are doing just fine... really! ;-D If you are using tiny tomatoes, go ahead and check them after 4 hours. 
  3. Always bring your tomatoes inside at night.
Last but not least: NO FRESH GARLIC OR FRESH HERBS IN OIL-PACKED TOMATOES... EVER! Sorry to holler, but I wanted to make sure you heard me the first time around.;-) Garlic and fresh herbs are low in acid-content, which makes them very attractive to super-ugly bacteria such as deadly botulism. Be safe! Only add fresh garlic and fresh herbs to your tomatoes when you're ready to use them.

P.S. I'll be repeating the above mantra in every step of this Ible just in case you didn't read this far. ;-)

Step 2: Sun-Roasted Tomatoes With Olive Oil and Sea Salt

What you'll need:
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • DRY herbs- optional
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. If the tomatoes you're using are especially large, cut them into quarters.

Core the tomatoes.  (A grapefruit spoon works the best if you have one. If not, a regular spoon will do) Save the cores to dry right alongside the halved tomato shells. 

If you're roasting beefsteak-type tomatoes, cut them into 1/4-1/2" crosscut slices and remove the seeds/gel and discard.

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the tomato with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt. Place the tomato halves on the drying rack. When your rack is full or you've used run out of tomatoes (whichever comes first ;-) take your racks outside to begin roasting.

Check the tomatoes after 4-6 hours. Turn them over on the drying rack and continue roasting until they are leathery soft, firm and dry. It could take several days before your tomatoes are ready to store so be patient. Good things really do come to those who wait! ;-D

After the tomatoes are thoroughly roasted, put them in a bowl and add approximately 1/3 cup of Wine Vinegar. Toss the tomatoes and vinegar well. Let them set for a few minutes, then toss again. Drain the tomatoes in a colander. (Save the vinegar for salad dressing!)

Your tomatoes are now ready to be safely stored for future use:

Put a few sun roasted tomatoes (roasted cores, too) in a clean canning jar and cover with olive oil. Tamp down gently, but firmly to remove any air pockets. Continue adding a few tomatoes at a time, covering with olive oil and tamping again.

When the jar is full and the tomatoes are completely submerged, seal and REFRIGERATE.

The olive oil will solidify when chilled but will reliquefy quickly at room temperature when you're ready to use them. No re-hydration is needed

Any leftover tomato-infused olive oil can be used in recipes such as bruschetta, drizzled on vegetables or added to any homemade salad dressing. 

Remember: NO FRESH GARLIC OR FRESH HERBS IN OIL-PACKED TOMATOES... EVER!  Sorry to holler, but I wanted to make sure you heard me the first (or second) time around.;-) Fresh Garlic and fresh herbs are low in acid-content, which makes them very attractive to super-ugly bacteria such as deadly botulism. Be safe! Only add fresh garlic and fresh herbs to your tomatoes when you're ready to use them. 

Step 3: Sun-roasted Tomatoes With Merlot

What you'll need:
  • Roma Tomatoes 
  • Red Wine: Merlot, Burgundy, Sangria or Chianti
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • DRY herbs- optional
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and core. (A grapefruit spoon works the best if you have one. If not a regular spoon will do) Save the cores to dry right alongside the halved tomato shells.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and put them in a zip-lock bag. (If you're using Beefsteak-type tomatoes, cut into 1/2" slices. Thinner slices tend to fall apart during the marinate time.)

Pour in enough wine to cover the tomatoes, seal the baggie and refrigerate them overnight.

After marinating, remove the tomatoes to a colander to drain. Save the reserved Wine marinade, label the ziplock baggie and FREEZE it immediately so it's safe for future use in cooking or another batch of tomatoes. 

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the tomato halves with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt.

Place the tomato halves on the drying rack. When your rack is full or you've used run out of tomatoes (whichever comes first ;-) take your racks outside to begin roasting.

Check the tomatoes after 4-6 hours. Turn them over on the drying rack and continue roasting until they are leathery soft, firm and dry. It could take several days before your tomatoes are ready to store so be patient. Good things really do come to those who wait! ;-D

After the tomatoes are thoroughly roasted, put them in a bowl and add approximately 1/3 cup of Wine Vinegar. Toss the tomatoes and vinegar well. Let them set for a few minutes, then toss again. Drain the tomatoes in a colander. (Save the vinegar for salad dressing!)

Your tomatoes are now ready to be safely stored for future use:

Put a few tomatoes (cores, too) in a clean canning jar and cover with olive oil. Tamp down gently, but firmly to remove any air pockets. Continue adding a few tomatoes at a time, covering with olive oil and tamping again.

When the jar is full and the tomatoes are fully submerged, seal and REFRIGERATE.

The olive oil will solidify when chilled but will reliquefy quickly at room temperature when you're ready to use them.

The leftover tomato-infused olive oil can be used in recipes such as bruschetta, drizzled on vegetables or added to any homemade salad dressing.

Remember: NO FRESH GARLIC OR FRESH HERBS IN OIL-PACKED TOMATOES... EVER! Sorry to holler, but I wanted to make sure you heard me the first (second or third) time around.;-) Fresh Garlic and fresh herbs are low in acid-content. This make them very attractive to super-ugly bacteria such as deadly botulism.  

Step 4: Simply Sundried Tomatoes

This simple technique for sun drying tomatoes omits oil of any kind.

It's faster than sun-roasting tomatoes and the flavor still packs a mouth-watering punch! 

You'll need:
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Sea Salt
  • White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • DRY herbs- optional
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. If the tomatoes you're using are especially large, cut them into quarters.

Core the tomatoes. (A grapefruit spoon works the best if you have one. If not a regular spoon will do) Save the cores to dry right alongside the halved tomato shells. 

If your using beefsteak-type tomatoes, cut them into 1/4-1/2" crosscut slices and remove the seeds and discard.

Sprinkle  the tomato slices with sea salt and place the halves on the drying rack. When your rack is full or you've used run out of tomatoes (whichever comes first ;-) take your racks outside to begin drying.

Check the tomatoes after 4-6 hours. Turn them over on the drying rack and continue drying until they are leathery soft, firm and dry. It could take a few days  before your tomatoes are ready to store so be patient. Good things really do come to those who wait! ;-D

After the tomatoes are thoroughly dried, put them in a bowl and add approximately 1/3 cup of Wine Vinegar. Toss the tomatoes and vinegar well. Let them set for a few minutes, then toss again. Drain the tomatoes in a colander. (Save the vinegar for salad dressing!)

Place the tomatoes back on the drying rack for an hour or so until they are again dry to the touch.

Your tomatoes are now safely ready to be stored for future use:

A ziplock baggie is perfect for sun-dried tomatoes. Just squeeze out the air and put the baggie in the FREEZER until you're ready to use them. 

Rehydrating sun-dried tomatoes is just as simple as drying them. Just defrost the amount of tomatoes you want to use and soak them in ample water or broth until they plump up.

Easy-Peasy and delicious, too!



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    15 Comments

    After packing tomatoes and oil in clean jars, can they be canned, using either water bath or pressure canning method?

    Not enough heat left this year, but definitely doing this next year! I have always wanted to do my own.

    You'll be happy! :-)

    mmm these look and sound fantastic
    if we drown in a tomato crop like we did last year, i'll try these!

    I do not like raw tomatoes, but I like them cooked and roasted ones like these add a great flavor. Thanks for sharing this one. Voted!

    Raw toms aren't my favorite, either... but I could eat sun-roasted (or sun-dried) tomatoes like candy.

    Thanks so much for your comment and your vote! ;-)

    It is very good idea,I may have a try to do it

    Please do... I think you'll be highly impressed!

    Thank you for commenting! ;-)

    These tomatoes will knock your socks off.

    I've been experimenting with a marinade with the red wine PLUS liquid mesquite-smoke and dried pickled Jalapenos.

    OMGosh... I think I discovered the worlds' next greatest Tomato Jerky! ;-D