Sun Dried Tomatoes in the Sun – Summer Fest

Summer Fest is back again and  the theme for this week are tomatoes. To participate, read more about Summer Fest onAway To Garden from Margaret then come join the community!  Catch up on this seasons previous  themes on the bounty of Cukes N Zukes ,  Sweet Corn and Herbs, Beans, Greens and Stonefruits.

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20 tomato varieties. 3 didn’t make it.  That was our garden’s initial tomato plantings this spring. Of the 17 remaining there were was one of the paste tomatoes (our San Marzanos) which was grown for one purpose, sun dried tomatoes.

Whimsically we had hoped to have the time to put in our wood-burning oven by now and were planning on drying the tomatoes in its post-baking warmth.  However this summer turned into non-stop madness and there was no time for such epic projects. So after the San Marzano started reddening its oblong masses, we went to Plan B, going super old school and  slowly drying the tomatoes in the sun over many days.

Sure we could have heated up the kitchen’s oven and dried them in there over a fraction of a day.  But where was the romance in that?  How beautiful would it be to have the tomatoes slowly kissed by the sun over a few warm summer days. The gentle summer breeze wrapping its warmth around the tomatoes, reducing them to perfectly concentrated and preserved little delicacies

Actually that wasn’t our line of thought, we’re not really that sappy.  But we are curious.  Curious to discover the “how tos” and “best ways” of dishes and ingredients we love.  We want to know how to make something ourselves and find out if we can make it better than what we are able to buy. Is there something extraordinarily special about the way something was traditionally done, or can modern conveniences do just as good or better of a job?

ta da! before and after the sun tan

This summer we decided to delve into sun-dried tomatoes. The process is as simple as it gets.  Slice, add some herbs if you like, then either dry in the oven at 180° F over many hours (8-10 hours depending on thickness and type of tomatoes) or dry them in the sun over many days.  Dry them until they have the consistency of a plump raisin, then store the tomatoes in a vacuum sealed (or air-removed ziplock) or packed in olive oil and sealed jars.

Custom screen frame built for

the tomatoes to dry in the sun. Kinda rough but created the airspace.

Ideally you want the air to be able to circulate all around the tomato slices so they will dry evenly.  In the oven, a wire cooling rack used on top of a sheet pan works great.  For testing our this sun dried tomato recipe, we wanted something bigger so we quickly rigged up a drying rack using a couple pieces of wood and some window screen mesh.  We used the screen under the tomatoes for air circulation and over the top of the tomatoes to keep the bugs off. It would be very easy for someone to make a proper frame for drying the tomatoes, however our drying rack was tossed together as a rush job done in a few minutes before heading out the door. Looks “rustic” but worked perfect.

We sliced the tomatoes in varying thickness to see how each of them dried, since I wasn’t trusting that and 1 1/2″ plum tomato would have the best texture if merely cut in half.  In the end it did.  The ones cut into 1/2 or 1/3rds for an 1 1/2″ thick tomato dried the best.  The ones cut thinner became too thin after drying. Still tasty though.

Are they any better than drying them in the oven?  That is hard to say but these particular tomatoes were quite tasty, and we didn’t do a side by side dehydrate off.  Plus it was simple, took virtually no prep time, just a few days of waiting and checking, and the oven didn’t have to be turned on in the summer’s heat.

Sun Dried Tomato Recipe

Total Time: Several Days

This recipe is for drying your tomatoes in the sun, however you can make sun dried tomatoes in the oven as well.  Set the temp. to 180°F and slowly dehydrate the tomatoes for 8-10 hours or until they are no longer tacky and the texture is like a plump raisin. Paste or plum tomatoes are the ideal choice, but you can really use any tomato you have on hand. No ingredient quantities are needed.  Season by preference, keeping in mind the tomatoes are going to reduce a lot during the dehydrating.

Ingredients:

  • several pounds Plum (Paste) Tomatoes, sliced lengthwise (for an 1" to 1 1/2" thick tomato, slice no thinner than in thirds)
  • Chopped Herbs (oregano, thyme, etc...) optional
  • Sea Salt
  • frame with screen mesh to lay tomatoes on & more screen mesh to lay over the top to keep bugs off

Directions:

  1. Slice the tomatoes & lay on framed screen mesh. Season with optional herbs and sea salt.  Cover with another layer of screen mesh and place in a sunny spot. Leave outside for several days (may be longer, depends on weather, thickness of tomato, water content, etc...) Sun dried tomatoes are done drying when the texture is no longer tacky, and it resembles a plump raisin.
  2. Store in a vacuum sealed bag (or zip lock with air removed) in fridge or freezer for up to a year, or store packed in olive oil and sealed in a sterile canning jar (can be left in a cool place).
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

Hello! All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use our images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.
Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.


Summer Festis back for its 3rd year! And we’re happy to be participating again thanks to Margaret Roach and Deb Puchalla, the creators of Summer Fest.

This great annual cross-blog event celebrates the peak harvest season where we all share recipes or growing tips for all our harvest fresh ingredients and produce. Everyone is encouraged to participate  by sharing a recipe or tip each Wednesday’s specific theme the the event ends.

Summer fest is a community celebration of shared cooking and gardening tips. All you have to do is contribute a post based on the weekly theme and share your links on all the host bloggers who are collaborating in Summer Fest. If you don’t have a full post, you share your comments too! Leaving your link will allow everyone in the Summer Fest community to feast on your creations.

For complete Summer Fest information & schedule, visit Margaret at Away to Garden.

After  writing your post, please visit all the host blogs and leave your link to share  & follow on Twitter :

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Kathryn

    Funny how the universe works. I was trolling the ‘net when a blog post about sun dried tomatoes caught me eye. Not more than a week later, my BFF offered me a bounty of fresh tomatoes from her garden. I live in Phoenix so I’ll be curious how long the sun-drying process takes in 110 degree heat. Using inspiration from your photos, I fashioned a “dryer” out of a large plastic storage container, a stackable cooling rack and an old window screen. My beauties are drying in back yard as we speak. Thanks to one of your entries, I’m not going to worry about bringing them in at night since dew in the desert won’t be an issue until the monsoons roll around next month!

  2. Jeanette

    I am such an admirer of your photos! Absolutely gorgeous. I’d like to share a few recipes for the Summer Fest:

    Warm Vidalia Onion and Heirloom Tomato Salad
    http://jeanetteshealthyliving.blogspot.com/2010/08/enjoying-end-of-summers-bounty.html

    What To Do With A Box Of Tomatoes
    http://jeanetteshealthyliving.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-to-do-with-box-of-tomatoes.html

  3. Gordy(PimpThatFood)

    Stunning photos! I love sun dried tomatoes. Actually we do them every summer where I live as the temperature rises up to 42 degrees celcius and surely we’ll us that source of energy instead of the oven. We make 2 versions salted and the unsalted.

    Sundried tomato tapenade on a piece of bread is just a summer delight!

  4. Jane Ko

    I love sundried tomatoes but I’ve never tried making them before. Thank you so much for the tutorial!

    I would like to invite you to participate in my giveaway http://atasteofkoko.blogspot.com/2010/08/mini-pistachio-tea-cakes-40.html

  5. Gigi

    Your recipes with the step by step instructions and beautiful photos make me want to try. The sun dried tomatoes look divine.

    Thought you and your readers might appreciate this cool time lapse video shot about how an urban community turned their junkyard into a sustainable garden in just one day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13x4lySlXW4. I think it’s cool that Kia is driving change.

  6. Kathleen

    May have to use the oven method here in Florida except in Feb. or March. Here’s a couple contributions for Summer Fest
    http://dejavucook.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/tomato-and-onion-tart/
    http://dejavucook.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/roasted-parmesan-tomatoes/

  7. Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    It’s been so mild and cool up here in Nor. Cal. that most of our tomato plants are just now bearing lots of fruit and starting to ripen. Usually our summers are so hot that we have tomatoes all summer long! Hoping it stays warm enough to get a few more weeks worth…

  8. Lana

    I tried doing this several years ago on my mother’s porch in Serbia, but the wasps got to them! Now I can go back and try it with the screen to protect them. There is nothing better than hot summer air to put the essence of the season in some ripe tomatoes.
    Btw. I AM sappy, and the description made me smile:)
    http://bibberche.com/2010/08/onion-peppers-tomato-sautee-sataras/

  9. Tokyo Terrace

    Well, you’ve done it again- you’ve made something I thought was completely unaccessible just the opposite. Can’t wait to give this a try! Beautiful photos, as usual!

  10. Laura

    That looks fabulous! I am eager to try it myself! Now if only my tomatoes would rip-en 😉

  11. Meathead

    As always, beautiful photography! Here’s something to try, and I’ve done this with cherry tomatoes as well as plums: Cut them in half and put them on a smoker or grill. Crank the temp as low as possible, but get some smoke into the cooking chamber for about 20-30 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker, put wood chips in a foil packet, poke holes in it so the smoke can escape, and place it on the coals or the gas burner. Then you can finish drying the tomatoes in the sun, on the grill, or in the oven. I’ve played with different levels of dehydration. I’ve taken them out of the smoker and made fabulous cold tomato soup. By leaving a bit more moisture than the normal sun drieds you can toss them into creamy pasta sauces or in soups, wherever the whim takes you and they are like raisins. Partially dried tomatoes need to be kept in the fridge.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      This sounds awesome. Absolutely love it and we are going to have to do this next smoking session.

  12. JenniferA

    Very interesting! I just might have to try this but I am wondering – you say it takes several days. Did you bring the rig inside overnight or just leave it there continuously? I am wondering if the dew might dampen them.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We left it out. We don’t get a heavy amount of dew but we have a bit of coastal dampness and everything dried just fine. If you do get a lot of dew, it might be a good idea to bring it in at night.

  13. Lys

    This looks like a great summer project! Will have to bookmark for next year!

  14. jenjenk

    Those sun dried tomatoes are GORGEOUS!! You guys have a great base product of ridiculously sweet tomatoes so I will just bet the sun drieds are out of this world!!

    Seeing your screen set up reminds me of my mom air drying Kampyo in the backyard – except your set up is so much slicker! love it!!! will have to show my mom!

  15. Veggie Belly

    Your tomatoes look beautiful! I made tomato and roasted red pepper gazpacho with creme fraiche

    http://www.veggiebelly.com/2010/08/tomato-roasted-red-pepper-olive-gazpacho-basil-creme-fraiche.html

  16. Laura

    I dried some sun golds this year and a couple of zebra greens. Both are really good. The sun golds are really tiny but really good flavor and the green were interestingly tangy. All I do is a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

    How about a green tomato pie made with zebra greens for summerfest
    http://sweetsavoryplanet.blogspot.com/2010/08/green-tomato-pie.html

  17. LimeCake

    this looks amazingly delicious! and a really informative post!

  18. Nancy

    I absolutely love that you did these in the sun! We’ve had such a heatwave here (SF bay area) that it would have been a great week for it – but the raccoons would have been laughing all they way back to wherever it is they hang out when not dining in our backyard… We’ve had truly amazing tomatoes in our CSA share the past few weeks and have loved this tomato, goat cheese and basil salad:
    http://guinnah.blogspot.com/2010/08/tomato-goat-cheese-and-basil-salad.html

  19. Lyndsey

    If only it were sunny enough here in Pittsburgh to do this myself…*sigh* I guess for now I’ll just be content with slow-roasting.

    And here’s my contribution to Summer Fest: http://achanceofsprinkles.blogspot.com/2010/08/masa-for-mesa-and-summer-fest-2010.html

  20. TheKitchenWitch

    Holy cow! Sun-dried tomatoes that are actually dried by the SUN!! I am wicked impressed! Also jealous of your tomato crop–I just have a few puny grape tomatoes. Damn.

  21. Winnie

    Awesome ! Making these is so on my to-do list. Thanks for capturing process so “gorgeous-ly”.
    I made a tomato ginger jam which can be found here:

    http://blog.healthy-green-lifestyle.com/tomato-ginger-jam.html

  22. Leah

    Yay! It’s finally Tomato Week! I’m celebrating all week by posting some new tomato recipe discoveries as well as some old family faves. Yesterday, I began with Neely’s Chicken Salad in Tomato Cups:

    http://www.wineimbiber.com/index.php/2010/08/need-recipes-for-tomatoes/

    In the upcoming days I’ll have Ina Garten’s Scalloped Tomatoes, Paula Deen’s Tomato Pie and my own take on Caprese Salad. I sure have enjoyed playing along with all the Summer Fest 2010 participants. I also learned a lot of useful info for my garden next summer. Thank you Margaret for creating this event!

  23. Tara

    I’ve always made “sun-dried” tomatoes in the oven – why I never thought to actually use the sun is beyond me! They look great!

    I’ve been making lots of Quinoa Tabouli lately. Tomatoes are so essential to the flavor that I only make it during tomato season!
    http://abakinglife.blogspot.com/2010/08/i-have-spent-five-of-past-eight-days-in.html

    Also, I started off the summer with an awesome gluten-free tomato-ricotta tart, which all this tomato-lovin’ is making me crave again!
    http://abakinglife.blogspot.com/2010/05/summer-lovin.html

  24. torviewtoronto

    first time here lovely tomatoes looks delicious

  25. diane/napa farmhouse 1885

    as always, your photographs are beautiful! i posted my recipe for slow roasted tomatoes and gott’s roadside http://www.napafarmhouse1885.blogspot.com/ restaurant’s version of gazpacho http://www.napafarmhouse1885.blogspot.com/

  26. Jane

    sun dried tomatoes-I have a bounty harvest this season so I will give it a try-Thanks!

  27. DessertForTwo

    I’ve been thinking about making these with my bumper crop of San Marzanos and Romas. It looks so easy! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  28. JB

    Love, love, love this! Ah, if only my plum tomatoes hadn’t been ravaged by summer storms this year. Next year, this is on my list!

    Here’s my contribution to SummerFest – Greek Panzanella Salad with a rainbow spectrum of tomatoes, cucumber, feta, kalamata olives, and garlic ciabatta croutons.

    http://pourhouse.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/greek-panzanella-salad/

  29. Christina

    I’ve never seen such perfect Roma tomatoes. I’m so jealous! Fantastic idea to sun-dry your own tomatoes–much better than canning. I might actually be able to do that (we have lots of yard space, but a tiny kitchen). Thank you for sharing!
    I made stuffed tomatoes this week for Summer Fest:

    http://flavorsings.blogspot.com/2010/08/summer-fest-stuffed-tomatoes.html

  30. DianasaurDishes

    I made oven dried tomatoes for the first time last year. They are AMAZING! I still have one jar left as I’m desperately waiting for tomatoes to ripen up here.

  31. Kalynskitchen

    I’m intrigued, have only made them in the oven!

  32. Fuji Mama

    Oh my goodness. That’s it. I’m pitching a tent in your backyard, pulling weeds, washing dishes…whatever it takes not to miss another WORC adventure…I mean, YUM. Oh, and can I say I’m coveting the background that the 2nd pic is shot on and that knife that Todd is using? You guys rock.

  33. Kim

    Living in Italy for the past two years, I really gained a new appreciation of perfectly ripe tomatoes. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat them—straight from my blog, Flexitarian Foodie!

    Avocado-Tomato-Peach salad
    http://www.flexitarianfoodie.com/2010/07/savory-summer-fruit-salad.html

    Basic Bruschetta
    http://www.flexitarianfoodie.com/2010/06/bruschetta-say-it-right-eat-it-often.html

    Tomato and Cream Cheese Foccacia
    http://www.flexitarianfoodie.com/2010/04/focaccia-done-right.html

    There are plenty more tomato recipes on Flexitarian Foodie, come take a look!

  34. Melissa

    Summer Fest recipes have been so much fun. I have dried tomatoes in the oven before but now i thinkI am going to try doing it outdoors.

    You’ll find an Heirloom Tomato Salad with Asparagus and Herb Creme Fraiche at It’s The Way She…
    http://tinyurl.com/273gbal

  35. Erin

    Here is my contribution to this week’s Summer Fest!
    http://mysteriesinternal.blogspot.com/2010/08/red-for-journey.html

  36. Prerna

    Lovely post and your photographs are always to die for!
    This was my first time participating in the summerfest n I enjoyed it so much. Here’s something Indian I did with my tomatoes.
    http://www.indiansimmer.com/2010/08/tadka-tomato-dal-and-green-tomato.html

  37. Liam O'Malley

    I’ve always wondered about whether I could dry them out in the sun like that and what would be needed to do so, so it’s very cool to see your explanation here.. it looks quite simple after all.

    I made a tomato consommé for summer fest this week: http://mysocalledknife.com/2010/08/the-elusive-tomato-consomme/

  38. Sarah

    Very interesting . . . I’ve roasted tomatoes in the oven, but never outdoors. It is so humid here, I wonder if they would ever dry! How did you keep bugs off? Thank you!

    My contribution this week is two sauces for snacking and the pantry. First, a Charleston Creole Sauce that I’ve canned for winter eating:
    http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2010/08/creole-sauce/

    And second, a fire-roasted pico de gallo that I can’t keep stocked in the house! I make a batch at least once a week each summer . . . I make mine lacto-fermented just by adding a little whey and it lasts (fresh! uncooked salsa!) in the fridge for months. If it doesn’t get eaten first!
    http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2008/06/fire-roasted-pico-de-gallo-2/

    Thank you for hosting! I can’t wait to read all the other contributors!

    Best,
    Sarah

    1. White on Rice Couple

      There was a second layer of screen mesh over the top of the tomatoes which kept the bugs off perfectly!

  39. Stacey Ballis

    For simple recipes like Roasted Tomato Soup, Brown Butter Tomato Vinaigrette, and an unusual and delicious Tomato Pudding check out my blog today http://thepolymathchronicles.blogspot.com/2010/08/summerfest-repost-tomato-time.html

  40. deeba

    Gorgeous … very picture is beautiful! I made my own version of these, oven roasted tomatoes last week. Loved it!!

  41. Ranjani

    Cool, I’ve never thought of making my own sun dried tomatoes. As someone with no yard space, I’m jealous of your tomato garden!
    My contribution this week is roasted tomato soup with smoked paprika:
    http://4seasonsoffood.blogspot.com/2010/08/roasted-tomato-soup-with-smoked-paprika.html

  42. Maria

    I love that these are dried in the sun. Incredible photos!
    We’ve been eating this simple tomato salad with our homegrown heirlooms:
    http://twopeasandtheirpod.com/tomato-feta-salad/

  43. Todd

    This looks absolutely great!

    I will have to try it when the rain stops here in the Catskills, and the sun returns. I have an indoor recipe as well to share for this weeks Summer Fest, Cornwallville Fried Tomatoes with Dill-Basil Mayo.
    http://cornwallvillegardens.blogspot.com/2010/08/fried-green-tomatoes-for-summer-fest.html

  44. marla {family fresh cooking}

    I love sun dried tomatoes. Yes, there sure is a romance that you actually dried these in the sun. Great how those plump & juicy tomatoes shrivel up & the flavor intensifies. Wonderful additions to so many dishes & fun to have around for the cooler months too. Summer in a jar :)

    Here is my latest addition to Summer Fest:
    Bacon Guacamole Salsa
    http://su.pr/1kaInH

  45. alison

    These look amazing. My recipe this week is simple for Fresh Tomatoes with Basil Drizzle http://www.ingredientsinc.net/2010/08/easy-appetizer-or-salad-tomatoes-with-basil-drizzle/

  46. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Hooray for Summer Fest!
    I’m not sure it gets hot enough up here to dry tomatoes in the sun! For now, I use my oven, like with these Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
    http://www.simplebites.net/slow-roasted-cherry-tomatoes-a-simple-summer-appetizer/

    We gobble them up in so many ways- on focaccia, on pizza, in salads and pastas, and just straight from the jar on crackers.

  47. Phoo-d

    I have a counter laden with romas and was just thinking about drying them this morning. Thank you for providing the inspiration and instructions! I may have to use the oven though as with our humidity it could take weeks for anything to dry out!

  48. fragolina

    I would love to sun-dry some tomatoes, but we don’t have plum tomatoes, we have the round-shape, not very red, orange kind. Maybe i’ll pick the best and try it.

  49. Nate @ House of Annie

    I like that it takes no fossil fuels to make – just solar power. How easy was cleanup?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Super easy. They dried slow enough, juices didn’t really drip anywhere, especially w/ the meaty paste tomatoes.

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