Question: I come across so many recipes calling for sun-dried tomatoes, but have no idea where to buy them. I remember my mom sun-drying tomatoes and putting them in jars with olive oil. They were delicious even in a sandwich.
Answer: Sun-dried tomatoes are available at specialty food stores such as Bristol Farms, Gelson's Markets, Irvine Ranch Markets and Jurgensen's. Italian delicatessens are another source. Some of the tomatoes are packed in oil, others are simply packaged in plastic bags.
We're not surprised to hear your mother dried her own tomatoes. If you want to do the same, follow this recipe we ran in July, 1985.
3 pounds firm ripe Italian or plum tomatoes (Romas)
1/2 teaspoon herb seasoning (oregano, basil or any herb combination) per tomato
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 sprigs rosemary, optional
1 1/4 cups olive oil, about
Choose tomatoes with even red color, no green or black spots. Wash tomatoes, removing stem ends. Slice lengthwise in halves. Squeeze gently to remove some of juice and seeds. Pat dry. Sprinkle with herbs, garlic and salt to taste. Dry tomatoes using Oven Drying Method or Sun Drying Method until about 2/3 dry.
To prevent molding, immediately place dried tomatoes loosely in 1 (1- to 1 1/2-pint) jar with rosemary sprigs. Pour in olive oil to cover tomatoes. Cover jar and store airtight in cool, dark, dry area or in refrigerator (olive oil will become cloudy). Use immediately or let stand 1 1/2 months for flavors to develop. Tomatoes will stay fresh as long as oil tastes fresh. Makes about 1 pint dried tomatoes.
Oven Drying Method: Prepare tomatoes for drying as above and place halves, cut side down, on non-stick pans (do not use foil). Or arrange tomatoes on wire racks placed on pans. Bake at 300 degrees 3 to 5 hours or until dried. Avoid overdrying since tomatoes become tough. If not dried enough, tomatoes will mold.
Sun Drying Method: Use shallow wood-framed trays with nylon netting, cheesecloth or screen bottoms. Dry in hot weather with relatively low humidity. Prepare tomatoes for drying and place squeezed and seasoned halves, cut side down, on trays. Cover trays with protective netting and place in direct sun raised from ground on blocks, bricks or slatted platform (there should be air circulating under food).
Dry tomatoes about 3 days, turning after half time, to expose cut halves to sun. Bring trays into house or place in sheltered spot outdoors before dew rises after sundown.