If you have been following our Gardening With Kids blog series, then you know that we have planted tomatoes on our balcony. Since all of our tomato plants are fruiting at the same time, we have more than what we can consume. Therefore, we needed to find a way to make use of them. It's such a joy to see the fruit of your labour be enjoyed by your family and friends. Our family loves sun-dried tomatoes on pizza and in salads, but it can be quite pricey in the shops. So, we decided to make oven-dried tomatoes and preserve them in extra virgin olive oil.
1. Start by soaking the tomatoes in water. If you have store-bought produce, try adding some salt to the water. This cleans the surface better and helps to get rid of possible pests.
2. Preheat your oven to 110 Celsius degrees with the fan.
3. Halve the tomatoes and cut out the green stem. This step is finicky and time-consuming, especially if you are working with a big batch of tomatoes. However, leaving the stems in could take away from the experience of eating the dried tomatoes.
4. Cut them into as many pieces as you'd like, but bear in mind that they shrink in the oven. We decided to only halve the cherry tomatoes, but we cut the bigger ones into quarters. If you work with big fruits, you might consider cutting them into even more pieces.
5. Spread the tomatoes out on a baking sheet lined with a silicone slip or some parchment paper. Make sure that the cut halves are looking up.
6. Sprinkle the tomatoes with some salt. Go light at this stage though! You can always add more salt later if it's needed.
1. Put the baking sheet in the oven for 2 hours and let the tomatoes roast slowly.
2. After 2 hours take them out and lightly press them down with a spatula. This helps release any liquid left in them.
3. At this stage, you can add seasoning if you'd like. We added a herb mix, but you could try adding garlic or basil too.
4. Put them back in the oven for another 40 minutes, but do keep an eye on them from now on.
5. If at the end of it your tomatoes still don't look dry enough, turn the oven on but leave the tray in. Prop the door open with a wooden spoon and wait until you get the consistency you want.
6. Wait for the dried tomatoes to cool completely.
Preserving the tomatoes in a jar
1. Prepare a jar and put the dried tomatoes in.
2. Add olive oil to the jar. Make sure that all of the tomatoes are covered.
3. If you'd like to flavour the dried tomatoes, even more, you could add seasoning to the jar. Try putting in some garlic cloves or some fresh, green herbs.
4. Keep the jar in the fridge and enjoy it for up to one month.
Preserving the tomatoes in the freezer
1. Alternatively, you can preserve the dried tomatoes in the freezer. Just pop the baking sheet in the freezer until they are all solid.
2. Take the baking sheet out and now you can put them in a freezer bag or into a plastic container.
3. When you want to use the dried tomatoes, you can just thaw them by putting them in a bowl and adding some olive oil.