It has been an interesting last few weeks, with a number of you writing in to say how much you enjoy the blog, THANKS…… it is always great to get some positive feedback. One of you wrote in to let me know I had an error in one of my recipes, again thanks. Apart from the fact that I like my recipes to be correct, again it shows that people are reading what I write. I also had someone contact me asking for a specific recipe…. so how could I refuse! This week’s recipe therefore is about how to dry tomatoes.
Here in Spain drying tomatoes at home was quite common. It was just one way of conserving the abundance of summer for the leaner times of winter. Typically ripe tomatoes were cut in half and left out on canes to dry under the hot Spanish sun. It might take two to three weeks, but the sun’s heat is free of charge and nobody was in a rush.
Unfortunately this, and many other traditional practices, have almost ceased. Nowadays people are in a rush and it is much easier and quicker to buy a jar of dried tomatoes in the local supermarket.
Personally I hate to throw anything away. I always grow my own tomatoes and use a number of techniques to ensure nothing is wasted. I make and bottle my own tomato sauces, tomato ketchup and I also dry my own tomatoes. I however use an oven to dry out my tomatoes. Firstly it is much quicker and, for me at least, costs me nothing as I use local discarded wood as a fuel source.
As I have mentioned in the past I collect discarded wood from around the village where I live, cleaning up the countryside and providing a free heat source.
So here is the recipe for dried tomatoes:
Cut the tomatoes in half then scoop out the seeds and any obvious juice. As we are drying the tomatoes removing the juice will speed up the process.
Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Set the oven to around 90ºC and leave for 5 to 6 hours. Check the tomatoes from time to time, they will need to stay in the oven until they are quite dry.
Place the tomatoes in glass jars and cover with olive oil. Add in a bay leaf and seal.
I re-use my jars, but always buy new lids. They are normally not expensive and new lids ensure a good seal. As the tomatoes have been dried and are covered in olive oil I never sterilise my jars.
I also scrunch up some baking parchment and put a little in the top of each jar. This will press down the tomatoes and ensure that they are fully submerged in the oil.
I always pop a bay leaf into each jar, but feel free to put in different herbs or a garlic clove if that is what you prefer.
I am still eating last year’s crop of dried tomatoes so mine have kept very well. As with all products don’t forget to use your senses, particularly smell and taste….. if in doubt discard.
As usual, any questions or comments please let me know.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge