Whew!…..All I can say is that I’m exhausted! Remember my last post on the “Best Homemade Canned Tomato Sauce” ? The one where I mentioned that we bought about 100 pounds of tomatoes to bottle\can? Well, I finished them…and not only them, but my sun dried tomatoes as well. I tell you, I don’t want to see another tomato for at least a week =D But you know, I can’t stress how all the effort is really worth it =) The flavor of something homemade just isn’t the same as store bought. My mom always cooked from scratch, even while working, but I think us kids didn’t really appreciate or understand the value of that until we ourselves got married…so in the tradition of “homemade” here is my absolutely delicious sun dried tomato recipe…..the secret is lots of sun and small tomatoes. I’ll explain in a minute…..Just follow me into the kitchen for now!
You remember my tomatoes from the other post, right? Beauties I tell you, beauties…..
Well, since then, I’ve been asked what the equivalent or close equivalent of these Italian tomatoes would be in United States? On line they say that the Italian “datteri\datterino” is part of the grape tomato family. For sun dried tomatoes, I’ve found that the best are these or some small type tomato (not Cherry tomatoes however….they are too small). The reason being is that you want to start with a nice firm, red, already sweet and juicy tomato….but not ones too little or too big, otherwise you will be eating rubbery peels. If you can find grape tomatoes or a specie between a Roma and a Cherry tomato, I think you will be just fine!
So here we go……
After cleaning your tomatoes, butterfly them……and lay them on top of a cotton kitchen towel lined shallow cardboard box or plastic tray……(I secure the towels to the box or tray using cloth pegs because here in the Mediterranean, the wind is notoriously strong and so I don’t want the towels flying off with my tomatoes!).…..Sprinkle with salt all over. Be careful not to over salt or they will taste salty. I use normal iodized salt, not rock salt.
Then place them outside in the sun……They need a good two to three days of sun, depending on how strong the sun is. Make sure you bring them in every night though! When done, they will be beautifully red and shriveled! (Here, I have them on my rolling laundry cart on the balcony…..)
And here they are two days later….You could smell the sweetness!
Then collect them all in a container and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, replace and line all the dirty kitchen towels under the boxes or trays where they were with clean, new towels. When the water reaches a boil, throw all the tomatoes in there for about 25 SECONDS only……to rid of dirt, dust, etc. Strain using a pasta strainer. Next, WORKING FAST AS TO NOT LET THEM CONTINUE COOKING, divide and spread them out all over the kitchen towel trays or shallow boxes again like you did in the beginning….make sure they are “butterfly” side up so they dry fast. Place them out again in the sun only to dry them…..1 hour maximum.
When dry, collect them all and place them in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil on top and mix well. I usually place some of them in a plastic container in the fridge (about two cups) and freeze the rest. When you want to defrost them, just spread them out on paper kitchen towels for about 10 minutes, and then place in your container in the fridge. The reason I don’t place them in glass jars submerged in olive oil at room temperature is because I found, with the passing of time, the taste changed and so did their color a bit. So I prefer the freezing method. And no, don’t worry, you will not taste “freezer burn” nor will their color change.
….Aren’t they gorgeous!? So now try making them yourself! You won’t be disappointed…..if anything, they won’t last long =D
P.S. If you would like more authentic Sicilian recipes, be sure to check out my new eBook, “Cucina Siciliana” …you’ll love it and it’s only 99 cents! =)
Happy sun dried tomato making!