Making Sun Dried Tomatoes: Step-By-Step Directions
Making sun dried tomatoes involves placing them in the direct sun to remove water and preserve them.
Tomatoes need consistent temperatures, good air circulation, and sun to dry properly.
Making sun dried tomatoes works best when the weather is low in humidity (less than 60%) with high temperatures (90ºF or more during the day).
If these conditions don’t match your climate, choose another drying method.
Consider dehydrating tomatoes in a dehydrator or making oven dried tomatoes.
Challenges to making sun dried tomatoes
- Time. Drying tomatoes in the sun can take up to 2 weeks, depending on type of tomato, temperature, and humidity during drying.
- Insects. Gnats, flies, and other insects can contaminate tomatoes.
How to sun dry tomatoes
Use tomatoes of uniform size for most even results.
More on drying tomatoes
Dehydrating tomatoes in a dehydrator: the most reliable drying method
- Wash and dry tomatoes.
- Remove skins (optional). With a knife, cut an X on the bottom of the tomato, just deep enough to penetrate the skin. Drop tomato into boiling water. Blanch for 20-30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove tomato from boiling water. Immerse tomato in ice water. Use knife to remove tomato core. Skin will slip off.
- Core tomatoes (whether skinned or not). Remove tomato ends.
- Cut tomatoes.
Roma tomatoes: cut in halves or quarters
Cherry tomatoes: cut in half
Slicing tomatoes: cut into ¼” slices
- Seed tomatoes (optional). With a spoon or your finger, scoop seeds from tomato, leaving pulp. Blot extra juice on tomatoes with a paper towel.
- Place tomatoes cut-side up on clean drying trays, about ½” apart. Do not allow tomatoes to touch. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt, garlic powder, or fresh herbs (as desired). Trays can be wooden, plastic, or non-stick-coated metal. Do not use galvanized metal screening, which will interact with acid in tomatoes.
- Set racks outdoors in the direct sun on raised boards so that air can circulate above and below tomatoes. Do not stack racks.
- Spread netting or cheesecloth over tomatoes, suspended on wooden skewers, to protect tomatoes from insects and to allow for ventilation.
- Turn tomatoes once a day.
- Bring tomatoes indoors in the evening (or set them in a protected place if night time temperatures do not get too cold) in order to prevent dew from falling on them.
- Check tomatoes each day for dryness. Making sun dried tomatoes can take anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks, depending on moisture in tomatoes, slice thickness, outdoor temperature, and humidity in the air.
- When tomatoes reach desired dryness, pack tightly in freezer bags, vacuum sealed bags, plastic containers, or jars. Store sun dried tomatoes in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage.
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