Sun dried Tomatoes (Well almost)

  With a large amount of tomatoes all ripening together, and not a lot of freezer space in which to store them I considered drying them in the electric fan oven as I did last year, but this takes approx 10 hours to and works out a bit expensive.
  I had read an article on drying tomatoes in a microwave oven and this is my version of that method.
The batch that I did today took approx 30 mins actual drying time, 10 mins preperation and 30 mins cooling.

  Please note the power of the microwave you are using really does make a difference to the timings given, so it is worth keeping a very watchfull eye on them towards the end.

The tomatoes that I used were ordinary UK garden tomatoes (the variety Moneymaker if my memory serves me correct) 

Slice the tomatoes in half calyx to base and carefully scooped out the pips leaving the core in.

 Arrange on a plate SKIN SIDE DOWN, you could use the microwaves own plate if you wish but it is a bit awkward to remove at the first 10 minute stage as it is usually brimming with liquid.

Zapp on full power for 10 mins, then remove the plate and carefully drain the liquid from it without disturbing the tomatoes too much, allow them to stand on the worktop to cool for 10 mins.

Repeat the above, and again allow to stand for 10 mins (there should be nowhere near as much liquid this time).

If they are fairly solid turn them over with a pallete knife and zapp for another 5 minutes skin side up (if yours are still mushy then just zap them a bit longer before turning them over).

After 5 mins take out and allow to stand for 5 mins, and then turn them skin side down again and zapp for a further 5-10 mins.

At this stage keep checking every 2 mins and remove any tomatoes that are done.

This resting period makes a real difference, the tomatoes firm up considerably during these periods.

After they are  finished  leave them to stand for at least 30 mins to dry out completely. and place in the fridge lightly covered with paper kitchen roll overnight.

You could bottle these in olive oil but unless you are aware of the dangers of botulism in bottled fruit and veg I would suggest that you opt for the safe option and open freeze them to ensure the pieces stay seperate, and bag as soon as frozen.

You could coat in olive oil and bag loosley before freezing if you wish, the olive oil stops them sticking together too firmly when frozen. 

The yield was a bit of a shock, (I weighed them this time) I started off  with approx 700 grams of tomatoes (processed in two batches)...... and ended up with up with just 50gms of dried tomatoes, I don't really remember the figures for when I used a fan oven but I suppose it must be almost the same.

These are really delicious used as you would shop bought sun dried tomatoes, or just eaten as a treat.

By the way don't throw away the pips or the drained off liquid, blitz in a blender, heat till boiling and reduced by 50%, then pushed through a sieve to make a very strong tomato flavoured essence, put into an ice cube tray and freeze, fresh basil leaves can be added at the blitzing stage.

Here are a couple of photo's of the finished  product prior to freezing

Above.......  after drying prior to adding olive oil
After adding olive oil prior to freezing
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