How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This quick and easy tutorial will make the quintessential summer flavor of tomatoes last all year long.

Related To:

Preserving the Harvest

Before canning changed the face of food preservation, the most common method for preparing tomatoes for winter storage was dehydration. Left in the sun for a few days, the popular summer fruit became dry, leathery and could be stored for many months. The ancient preservation method also packs 100% of the flavor of a fresh tomato into 9% of the space. Sun dried tomatoes have become a pricey fixture in the gourmet aisle for use in salads, on pizzas or in antipasto, but are surprisingly easy to make at home without any special equipment (even on a cloudy day).

What You'll Need

Tomatoes, salt, and optional fresh herbs are all it takes to make sun-dried tomatoes at home. Any ripe tomato can be used to make sun-dried tomatoes, but paste tomatoes like Romas have fewer seeds and denser flesh, making them a great choice for dehydration. Five pounds of fresh tomatoes yield 3-4 cups once dried.

Wash and Sort Tomatoes

Start by washing tomatoes and removing any bruised or discolored fruit.

Slice Tomatoes

To prepare tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise (larger tomatoes may be quartered). Seeds may be removed by gently squeezing the fruit, but fewer seeds in paste tomatoes usually makes this unnecessary.

Arrange Tomatoes on Rack

Place tomato halves cut side up on a cooling rack and place rack on a baking tray to catch any liquid that may drip during drying. Leave space between slices to allow for good air circulation.

Optional Herbs

Fresh herbs like basil or oregano can add great flavor to sun-dried tomatoes.

Season Tomatoes

Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each tomato half before drying. If using fresh herbs, mince thoroughly and sprinkle a bit on top of each tomato slice.

Dehydration

Although dehydrated tomatoes are commonly called “sun dried,” most are commercially prepared in dehydrators. If you wish to try your hand at solar dehydration, tomatoes may be covered with cheesecloth and left to dry in the sun for three or more days. We prefer a more controlled environment. Set oven temperature to 175 degrees and place trays in oven for 12-18 hours. As tomatoes dry, color will darken and texture will become leathery.

Remove From Oven

Sun-dried tomatoes are finished when the texture is similar to that of a prune or fresh raisin and no moisture is released when pinched. If removed too soon, excess water will make the dried fruit more susceptible to spoilage.

How to Store

Store-bought sun-dried tomatoes are sometimes packed in olive oil. While this practice was once common for home preservation, the lower acidity of modern tomatoes has led the USDA to discourage the practice for home canners. To safely store homemade sun dried tomatoes, pack tightly in airtight jars or ziploc bags, removing as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator for short term storage or freeze for up to one year. Because it is often difficult to detect lingering moisture in tomatoes dehydrated at home, room temperature storage is discouraged.

Next Up

How to Refinish a Dining Room Table

Easily refinish a dated or worn dining room table to give it a fresh look.

How to Clean a Wood Kitchen Table

Got half an hour? Make your wood kitchen table spotless and germ-free.

How to Refinish a Kitchen Table

Give an old kitchen table new life in a weekend with these simple steps for refinishing wood furniture.

How to Sew a Card Table Slipcover

Card tables are convenient to use when entertaining over the holidays, but they can be eyesores. A simple slipcover that is fitted and washable (not to mention pretty) is the perfect solution.

How to Create a Gift Box Centerpiece

Wow your holiday dinner guests with an eye-catching, nature-inspired gift box centerpiece. Because it's taller than it is wide, you'll have plenty of room for a large, festive feast on the table around it.

How to Make an Ice Lantern

Use winter's frosty temps to your advantage when decorating your home's outdoors for the holidays. These ice lanterns are pretty, festive and just require water, plastic containers and a chill in the air.

How to Make a Cat Condo

Use everyday items to build a fancy cat post with baskets.

How to Make a Rosemary Gin-Ginger Cocktail

On a winter evening you need flavors that are bold enough to match the crisp outdoor temperatures. Try this easy cocktail to warm you up. 

How to Make Mercury Glass Votives

Transform inexpensive glass votives and hurricanes into faux "mercury glass" candle holders using silver and gold leaf. These chic, handmade accessories will bring a little shine to any Christmas arrangement.

How to Make a Wood Cutting Board

Woodworking projects can be intimidating, but this project is actually easier than you may think. With basic shop materials and dense hardwood, which is the best wood for cutting boards, you'll be able to create a chef-worthy chopping accessory that any foodie would love.