Tomatoes simply taste best when they are at the peak of ripeness in summer. Juicy and, you know, full of tomato flavor – unlike their siblings from the winter season, which taste watery and bland.
Sun-dried tomatoes are a great way to preserve tasty summer tomatoes. After drying, they can be used any time of the year and will still taste great.
To make sun-dried tomatoes, ripe tomatoes are left in the sun to dry for a few days, where they will lose most of their moisture. Since most people simply don’t have the option to do so (Hello, tiny Boston apartment without garden), or don’t want to wait for so long, you can achieve the same results by drying out the tomatoes in the oven.
I prefer semi-dry tomatoes to fully-dried ones since they are a little softer and moister and therefore a perfect addition to grain salads, pasta, or pizza. Also, they are ready quicker ;-)
You can use any size – from plum to cherry/grape tomatoes. Just keep in mind, the larger they are, the longer they have to dry in the oven. I made these semi-dried tomatoes with little grape tomatoes and it took 2 hours at 300°F (150°C) until ready. Update 9/19/2018: Tiny cherry tomatoes with 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1.5 – 2cm) only take 1h 15 m to 1h 30m in the oven until ready.
Update 9/19/2018: After using a different brand of herbs and a new oven I’ve updated the recipe. Since the herbs got pretty dark after 2 hours of baking, I now sprinkle them after one hour baking time. You can also use a fan-oven (reduce temperature). If using tiny tomatoes (1/2 to 3/4 inch / 1.5-2 cm), the baking time will reduce to 1h 15m to 1h 30m. Also, I reduced the amount of salt slightly.
These oven-dried tomatoes that are ready in 1¼ to 2 hours. You can use any size you want (from plum to cherry/grape) – the larger they are, the longer they will need to dry. I use small grape or cherry tomatoes. The dried herbs in the recipe are optional; however, I recommend using them.
These tomatoes are a perfect addition to grain salads, pasta, or pizza (add after baking). My favorite way to eat them is on a slice of bread or toast, topped with cream cheese (or ricotta).
Recipe: Ursula | lilvienna.com
- 1 ¼ lb (570 g) small grape or cherry tomatoes, all the same size
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt (updated from 1/4 tsp)
- 1/4 teaspoon each: dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano (optional)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil for brushing
- Oil for covering (optional, see note)
- Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. If using larger tomatoes, cut out the core.
- Arrange the halved tomatoes over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cut sides up. (Do not use an aluminum baking sheet as the acid in the tomato will react with the metal.)
- Brush (or spray) lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, then with the dried herbs. Update: Sprinkle the herbs after 1 hour baking time to prevent the herbs from getting too dark.
- Preheat oven. Bake for 2 hours at 300°F (150°C) or 275 °F (135 °C) if using a fan-oven, until semi-dried. Update: If using tiny tomatoes (1/2 to 3/4 inch / 1.5-2 cm), the baking time will reduce to 1h 15m to 1h 30m. If I don’t need them right away, I turn off the oven and let the tomatoes sit in the oven to dry in the residual heat for another half hour (depends on how dry they already are).
- Store in the fridge for up to a few days. (see note)
Store in a jar or container in the fridge for a few days. Be aware, they still have some moisture inside so they will get moldy when stored longer without submerging them in oil. For longer storage, place them in a jar tightly packed and cover with olive oil. Add a garlic clove and more dried herbs (basil, thyme, oregano) if you like. Update 09/30/18: Meanwhile, I prefer a less-intense tasting oil like sunflower oil or a mix of sunflower oil (3/4) and olive oil (1/4).
Did you follow this recipe? You could share your result here. All you need to do is take a picture with your smartphone and send it to [email protected] Katrin: "I made these half dried tomatoes last weekend. They turned out delicious, and it's a great way to preserve some of the harvest." Click to enlarge.
How long would it take to dry them so that the tomatoes would keep a lot longer, I am a bit worried about putting them into olive oil Thank you.
Hi Judith, If they should keep longer, they have to be entirely dry. So far, I’ve only made these semi-dried tomatoes because of what I’ve read, it can take quite a while (5-8 hours at low temp in the oven) to dry them completely. Again, the larger they are, the longer they will need to dry. But if you don’t want to store the fully dried ones in oil, they will easily get tough and dry (like sometimes storebought ones which are not submerged in oil). What I can recommend is to store the semi-dried tomatoes in oil anyways – if you pack them in a jar tightely, you will only need a bit of oil. Before using them, you can always let them drain on a paper towel. Hope that helps.
Genau so mag ich meine “getrockneten” Tomaten auch am liebsten. Wenn man doch noch das softe feeling dabei hat sind sie genau richtig.
Ganz genau ;-)) Dann passen sie perfekt in Pastagerichte oder “grain salads”. Ein Rezept für so einen Salat stell ich übrigens in Kürze online. Schön, dass du auf unserer Seite vorbeischaust!! Und: Toller Blog!
Can I ask why does the oil go solid when I kept the submerged semi sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge please. Is there a certain type of olive oil we should use?
Hi Belinda, Hm good question. The oil didn’t get solid in my fridge – this never happend to me. Usually I use either native olive oil or a mix of vegetable oil and olive oil. Which oil did you use and did the oil solidify entirely?
Looks yummy! I’ve got cherry and yellow pear tomatoes ripening like crazy. I’d like to preserve some in oil, but not sure if they can be put through the water bath canning process. Have you tried this?
Hi Connie, Sorry, I’ve never tried canning them. I always put them in a jar of oil and make sure that they keep submerged. But I understand that if you have quite a lot of tomatoes, canning is the way to go. If you try the water bath canning process, please let me know how it works out! Hopy that you will try the recipe.
Hi! Approximately for how long can I keep them in the fridge if submerged in olive oil? Thanks!
Hi Andrea, I’ve never had them any longer the fridge than a couple of weeks (covered w/ oil) because I ate them. But they should keep well quite a while since the oil is conserving the tomatoes. Just make sure that the tomatoes are entirely submerged otherwise they might get mouldy. I’ll try to leave some leftovers the next time, for test reasons ;-)
I also used olive oil and it solidified completely in the fridge. Does the jar need to be refrigerated?
Hi Erika, I would still store the jar in the fridge, even though it can solidify. It will reliquify quickly once out of the fridge. Since the tomatoes are only half dried and not entirly, I wouldn’t store them at room temp. I read that a lot of people do so, but honestly, I am not sure if this is really save. Btw, I sometimes use a mix of vegetable oil and olive oil to cover them. This way, the oil usually doesn’t solidify in the refrigerator. Hope this helps in any way.
That’s very helpful, Ursula. Thank you!
I have been experimenting with oven dried tomatoes this week (adjusting oven temperature, various seasoning etc). I make semi-dried ones and store them in olive oil and I also have the same problem. When I put the jar in the fridge the olive oil solidifies completely. Do you know of a special olive oil that will stay liquid in the fridge? My store bought sun-dried tomatoes have been in the fridge for weeks but the oil never solidifies. I was thinking of trying different kinds of olive oil and experimenting (putting them in the fridge) to see what happens. Any thoughts on this? thanks. And I’ve been keeping mine at room temperature and using within a week.
This happend to me before but it seems to depend on the brand of olive oil or how it’s refined. I often use a neutral oil like sunflower oil. Tastes great too!
I store mine in the freezer and use them all winter long.
Great idea!! I hope to have a larger freezer some day, mine is always crammed :-)
love the recipes, can’t wait to try
Thank you! I hope you’ll try one (or two) :-) Thanks so much for your comment, Ursula
I’m wondering if I have permission to use the last photo here of your bowl of sundried tomatoes? I’m creating a ‘bingo’ game for the residents in the Italian nursing home I work in and am using food instead of numbers for those who have dementia and can no longer recognise numbers. It would be for their personal use only.
Sure you can use the picture for this purpose! By the way, you can use the amaretti cookies as well if you can use them. Ursula
That’s wonderful, thank you so very much!
And how did you know I’d been looking for a decent photo of amaretti too?! Grazie mille!
Oh, you really have been looking for Amaretti? Just a guess :-) No problem at all!
If you dont want oil to solidify you can use sunflower oil, just like the ones you buy. Olive oil will solidify, but liquefies when let stand for bit before use.
If you intend storing the dried tomatoes in sunflower oil, should you also use sunflower oil to brush them before baking?
For brushing, it doesn’t really matter, which oil you are using. Any oil will do fine. I often use sunflower oil or a mix of sunflower and olive oil to cover them. Tastes so nice :-)
Thanks Ursula. I tried both ways but found I really prefer the flavour using olive oil. I also forgot to even brush one lot with oil before baking so they didn’t get any oil at all until after they were done lol. They tasted great too.
It’s great that you tried the recipe and now know your taste preference :-) I love these tomatoes so much on a slice of bread, spread with ricotta. Absolutely delicious.
My Olive oil also solidifies slightly but it doesn’t take long out of the fridge to liquify. I also like using the flavoured oil in salad dressjngs. I put herbs, garlic and peppercorns in my oil.