Garden Fresh Dried Tomatoes

  If you garden, and your garden has tomatoes, you probably go through the same stages I do each summer.  The first stage is planting.  It’s been a long, cold winter of store-bought tomatoes and MAN what you wouldn’t give for a fresh, sun-ripened one…you plant far more tomato plants than you need.  The second stage is waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting…for what seems like an interminable amount of time while your plants flower and get itty bitty little tomatoes that eventually turn into bigger tomatoes and then seem to stay green forever.  The third stage, the golden stage, is when the first handful of tomatoes ripen.  Heaven, with a healthy dose of lycopene.  The third stage is quickly followed by the fourth…when tomatoes shoot out of your ears as they all get ripe at once and if you don’t know how to preserve them in jars, you don’t know what on earth you’re supposed to do with all of them.
  Here’s an option:
Here’s what you need:
Fresh tomatoes (roma sized is recommended, but make sure they’re all one size*)
olive oil
herbs of choice (optional)
*we had both romas and pear tomatoes on the same sheet
 the smaller ones started to burn before the others were finished.
  Clean your tomatoes and then slice them in half, lengthwise.  Place them in a bowl and toss with olive oil to coat before placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  If you want to season your tomatoes, sprinkle your herbs on top of them.  Turn your oven to the lowest heat setting and allow your tomatoes to cook for between 8 and 12 hours.  Basically, the time is going to be determined by the size of your tomatoes and the heat of your lowest setting.  You want your tomatoes to be cooked enough that they don’t ooze juice when you squish them, but not so dry that they’re crunchy.
  We did this with a big bag of tomatoes and I’ve been keeping them in the fridge and snacking on them.  They (obviously) take up far less fridge real estate this way, have a more intense flavor, and make it far easier to down 4 tomatoes in a sitting.
  The tomatoes are still coming in, so we’ll see how many more batches we make, but this is definitely a handy trick for extending their shelf life when you know there’s no way you’re getting through the harvest you hauled in before it starts to rot if you leave them fresh.

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