When tomatoes are coming in fast and furious from the garden or at the market, put some of those ultra-ripe tomatoes to excellent use by drying them in the oven. The low-temperature roasting dries them out a bit, intensifying their flavor beautifully. Serve them on their own sprinkled with salt, with pasta, or in other dishes suitable for "sun-dried tomatoes." You may also want to check out this step-by-step guide, with photos: How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
Note: Feel free to oven-dry more tomatoes than the recipe calls for, just make sure you have extra pans to spread them out on – the drying process works best when each tomato piece has a bit of space around it so the hot air can circulate.
- Preheat oven to 200 F. Rinse the tomatoes with cool water and dry them thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel or layers of paper towels.
- Hull or remove the core of each tomato. Cut small tomatoes into quarters and larger tomatoes into large bite-size pieces. If you want to leave them in larger pieces, prick the skin side a few times with the tip of a sharp knife to help them dry out evenly. In any case, remove and discard the seeds and any juice from the tomatoes. (If you want, you can reserve the juice and strain it to make tomato water—get specifics here.)
- Spread the cut tomatoes on a large baking sheet—you want lots of space so there's room around each piece of tomato so they can dry properly.* Drizzle or spray the tomato pieces with olive oil. Toss them gently to coat them evenly in the oil. Spread the pieces out as much as possible on the baking sheet.
- Put the tomatoes in the oven and cook until their edges curl up and the tomatoes reduce in size by about 1/3, about 2 to 3 hours depending on how juicy the tomatoes were to start with. You can remove them now, in this plump-dry stage, or keep drying until they get much more dried out and leathery for longer storage, up to 8 hours depending on the ambient humidity and the juiciness of the tomatoes.
Dried tomatoes can be stored in the fridge or freezer, or in a jar completely covered with olive oil.
* Want to get serious? After you've coated the tomatoes with the oil, arrange a cooling rack on the baking sheet and set the tomatoes on the rack. This method allows air to circulate all the way around each tomato.