Sun? Oven? What's the difference?

Isn’t it just the way? You wait all winter for a nice home-grown tomato and then wouldn’t you just know it? A couple of hundred come along all at once!

The greenhouse is currently the horticultural equivalent of a sweatshop, packed full of tomato plants all pumping out fruits at an obscene rate of knots. Far too many tomatoes for us to eat so we’re struggling to stay on top of things. Nice problem to have, so try not to feel too sorry for me as I moan.

I was idly making pizzas the other evening when a solution presented itself. Adding the various toppings, I opened the jar and spooned out a few leathery sun-dried tomatoes onto the dough. Ah hah!

Home-made sun-dried tomatoes ticks a lot of boxes – a good way to use up the tomatoes, should last for ages, we eat loads of them and they cost a small fortune to buy in the shops. Off we go, then.

Now I should confess, what follows is actually a way to make oven-dried tomatoes. As you may have twigged by now, South London is not exactly Mediterranean, and drying the tomatoes in the glorious sunlight would take rather a long time.

Nevertheless, the end result is the same, and it’s dead easy. Chop your tomatoes in half and put them on an oven tray. Sprinkle with salt and olive oil and then put them in the oven. That’s it.

Unless you’re planning on using the oven for something else in the near future. You see, it does take rather a long time to make these babies. You want the oven nice and low, about 50c, and you need to leave the tomatoes in for about ten hours. Which rather limits your options if you want to cook anything else, and you have to remember to start cooking these at the right time – late evening or early morning, I guess.

And I suppose the cost of leaving your oven on for ten hours would probably goes some way towards a few jars of shop-bought tomatoes.

But the good news: they taste amazing! For starters they are much brighter red then the wrinkly prunes you pull out of shop-bought jars, and you can also stop cooking them when you want. I took the ones in the pic out when they were still nice and juicy and before they dried out too much.

Once you’ve cooked them, stick them in a sterilised jar with a few cloves of garlic and some thyme. Cover them in extra virgin olive oil and they should keep for six months.

One thing to watch for: if you put the jar in the fridge then the olive oil will probably turn a bit cloudy as its temperature drops. This will have the unfortunate effect of looking like your tomatoes have gone mouldy. They haven’t – just take the jar out of the fridge, or indeed just ignore the cloudiness and carry on regardless.

Enjoy!

On the (brand new!) ipod while preserving: nothing. Still trying to figure out how to get the bugger set up properly.