For the second week in a row we have been blessed with a good amount of cherry tomatoes in our CSA box. Last week, my wife got her hands on them and I never saw them again, so this time I made sure I grabbed them before she did. My goal was to place them into our dehydrator and turn them into little flavor bombs. Freshly picked, perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes, on the own, pack a hefty amount of flavor, but dry them out a bit and you can up that flavor to epic proportions.
It’s important to note that what I am acheiving by this is not a way to preserve the tomatoes; I don’t remove enough moisture for that. I am merely trying to remove enough moisture to concentrate the flavors and provide a bit more texture to them. Once finished, these tomatoes will need to be refrigerated or they will go bad. Even then, this procedure will only buy you a bit more time than you would have with completely fresh tomatoes.
While I use a dehydrator for this, you can do these in your oven also. Hopefully, your oven’s lowest setting is 150°F. Preheat the oven to 150°F. Place the prepared tomatoes on a rack, covered with cheesecloth, cut side down and place in the oven. check after 1 1/2 hours and every 20-30 minutes afterwards, removing tomatoes as they are done. Doing it this way is a little less forgiving, but still not very difficult. Just keep an eye on them
Dried Cherry Tomatoes
1 quart cherry tomatoes (or any small variety of tomato)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Finely mince the garlic then, using the edge and side of your knife mash it into a coarse paste. Grind the dried oregano and dried basil into a powder and mix with the garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Remove any stems from the cherry tomatoes and slice, in half, through the stem end. Toss with the olive oil mixture. Lay out on your dehydrator racks, making sure that none the the tomatoes are touching.
Set dehydrator to about 140°F, cover and allow to dry for 2 hours. After 2 hours rotate your trays, if necessary and continue to dry for another 1 1/2 hours. Rotate trays again and start checking the tomatoes every 45 minutes to 1 hour, removing any tomato that is done. Tomatoes are done when they have loss about 1/2-2/3 their size, are starting to feel firm to the touch, and are just slightly dry around the edges. It will take anywhere from 3 1/2-6 hours to dry. I can’t be any more specific as lots of factors affect the drying time; type of dehydrator, size of tomatoes, humidity in the air, etc. Mine took approximately 4 1/2 hours to reach the moisture level I wanted.
Once they are done place in the fridge for storage. They will last a week or 2. For longer storage you can cover them with olive oil, but you will still want to keep them in the fridge.
These little flavor bombs make a great addition to simple pastas, salads, or vegetable medleys, but really my favorite way to eat them is to simply pop them into my mouth, right out of the jar, although it is easy to get carried away and consume an afternoon’s work in just a short time!!