How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun Dried Tomatoes
Storing Sun Dried Tomatoes. Molly Watson
  • 01 of 08

    Start With Fresh Tomatoes

    Fresh Tomatoes to Dry
    Early Girl Tomatoes. Molly Watson

    These tomatoes may be dried in a low oven rather than under the sun, but the effect—deeply intensified ripe tomato flavor—is the same. Keep the results in the fridge or covered in olive oil for longer storage and add them to pasta, salads, or just grab them as a snack.

    Make dried tomatoes when the piles of tomatoes at the market are still in full force, but you've already eaten plenty of plain ripe tomatoes and Caprese salads. If possible, use low-moisture tomatoes such as San Marzanos,...MORE Romas, or Early Girls—there will be that much less moisture to cook off.

    Plan on 2 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes for each large baking sheet you have. If you want to dry more than 2 pounds, use extra sheets or work in batches. 

    If you prefer a traditional one-page recipe, see Oven-Dried Tomatoes.

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  • 02 of 08

    Hull the Tomatoes

    Prepping Tomatoes to Dry
    Hulled Tomatoes. Molly Watson

    While this step is optional, removing the core from the tomatoes, or "hulling" them, is aesthetically and texturally appealingh. Use the sharp point of a small paring knife to cut around the stem end of each tomato to remove it.

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  • 03 of 08

    Halve & Seed the Tomatoes

    Prepping Tomatoes
    Tomatoes to Dry. Molly Watson

    Next, you want to cut all the tomatoes in half. It's best to cut them in half "along the equator," or crosswise since this will make it easier to remove the seeds and excess juice.

    Over a bowl or other vessel, gently squeeze each tomato half to force out the seeds and most of the watery juice.

    Note: Most people would probably throw the watery seeds away, but better to strain this mixture and enjoy a lovely refreshing glass of "tomato water" after all that cutting work!

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  • 04 of 08

    Prick the Tomatoes

    Prepping Tomatoes
    Pricked Tomatoes to Dry. Molly Watson

    This extra step really helps the tomatoes dry out evenly, especially if you want to dry them all the way to a leathery texture. Use the sharp tip of a knife to prick a few holes in the skin of each tomato half.

    Depending on how big your tomato halves are, you will probably want to cut the tomatoes at least into quarters. You may want to cut larger halves into several pieces, wedges or slices.

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  • 05 of 08

    Arrange the Tomatoes In a Single Layer

    Tomatoes on a Rack
    Tomatoes to Dry. Molly Watson

    Line a baking sheet with foil for easier clean-up, if you like. Arrange a cooling rack, if you have one, on a baking sheet. Spray it with oil or lightly coat it with oil to help prevent sticking. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer, with the pieces touching as little as possible, on the rack and set in a 200F oven.

    Note: You can simply arrange the tomatoes directly on a baking sheet, but using the rack helps the tomatoes dry out more evenly.

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  • 06 of 08

    Plump Dried Tomatoes

    Drying Tomatoes
    Half-Dried Tomatoes. Molly Watson

    After about 2 hours, the tomatoes will have started to dry a bit but still be quite plump. Check on them, turning the pan or rotating pans if you're using more then one if one side of a pan is drying out faster than the other. Some people like to use tomatoes at this plump stage in pasta sauces or Caprese-style salads. If you stop drying at this stage, however, plan on keeping the tomatoes in the fridge and using them within a day or two or freezing them.

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  • 07 of 08

    Dried Tomatoes!

    Sun-Dried Tomatoes
    Dried Tomatoes. Molly Watson

    Check on the tomatoes every hour or so. They will go through several stages and it's really up to you how dried out you want them. The ones pictured above are all the way to being pretty darn dry, with just enough moisture in them to keep them chewy even though they are leathery feeling. To get to this stage takes 6 to 8 hours depending on the oven, the ambient humidity, and the tomatoes.

    While you may be tempted to increase the temperature to speed things along, A higher temp - up to 300F -...MORE only works well if you're only drying the tomatoes a little bit, to the plump-dry stage in the previous step. After that, a higher temperature will start to cook the tomatoes more than dry them.

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  • 08 of 08

    Storing Dried Tomatoes

    Dried Tomatoes in Jars
    Storing Dried Tomatoes. Molly Watson

    If you really dry them all the way and live in a fairly dry climate, you can store dried tomatoes in an air-tight container in the cupboard for several weeks. Best is to keep them in the fridge for longer storage or, as shown here, pack them into jars and cover them with oil. You end up with soft-yet-dried tomatoes and plenty of tomato-flavored oil to use in salad dressings to boot. You can still pop them in the fridge to be safe if you like. You can also freeze dried tomatoes for longer storage...MORE if needed—just pop them in a sealable plastic bag and throw it in the freezer.