Sun-dried tomatoes are a popular salad and pizza topping. Many people find they have a more intense sweet-tart flavor than regular tomatoes. This and their crunch is what makes them so popular in certain dishes. Any type of tomato can be used for sun-dried tomatoes and the flavor will change slightly depending on which variety was used.
Sun-dried tomatoes can easily be made at home if you have the patience and vigilance. Using a food dehydrator can help you quickly and safely make sun-dried tomatoes without having to wait for a sunny day or two. Your oven can also be used to quickly dry tomatoes. But if you like the traditional route, there are lots of recipes you can try at home. If you live in an overcast area with little sun, then the homemade route might not be for you -- but that's ok! There are many store-bought options that are healthy and delicious. They'll save you time as well.
Sun-dried tomatoes come in many varieties. Most often they are either oil-packed or sold dried. Which you choose is a matter of personal preference.
While there are high-quality oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, you do want to be wary of what you buy. Many commercial sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil use an inferior oil and may be over-spiced. You can easily remedy this by using dried tomatoes, adding your own good olive oil and preferred herbs and/or spices, seal, and refrigerate. Make up new batches as you need them.
Packing your sun-dried tomatoes in oil and spices is a great way to add flavor. While you can use whatever spices you like, here are some of the more common spices used:
- Red Pepper
- Chopped Sage
As you can probably tell, this is a very Italian-influenced ingredient list. Sun-dried tomatoes do originate from Italy, where the tomatoes would be laid on the ceramic roofs to dry. This also means, if you're spicing your own sun-dried tomatoes, you can use a general Italian seasoning blend for a great quick flavoring.
Homemade dried tomatoes should be placed in an airtight bag or container and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for six to nine months for optimum shelf life. Make sure there is no moisture on them before they're frozen to avoid freezer burn.
Unopened commercially-dried tomatoes will be fine without refrigeration for six to nine months. You will need to refrigerate or freeze them after opening. Once they're opened you should use them within a couple weeks.
When packing your own in oil at home, be sure to keep them refrigerated, especially when adding fresh herbs or garlic, to avoid the risk of botulism. Once opened, oil-packed dried tomatoes should be refrigerated and used within two weeks.