I know a cold front is on the way, and I know it's September, and I know I've already mentioned my excitement about the coming fall, but the truth is, I still have tomatoes. And after all the boiling, peeling, seeding, chopping, and canning, after the freezing and drying, salsa and soup, I wanted something a little less laborious to do with the last of the tomatoes. So I decided to try this:
Oil-Packed 'Sun-Dried' Tomatoes with Rosemary
To make these I sliced several pounds of Roma tomatoes into eighths (halves and quarters were too large for my dehydrator), laid them out on dehydrator trays, and sprinkled them with rosemary salt.*
I then put them in the dehydrator until they were dry but still pliable. My machine ran overnight and then for a few hours the next day to get them to this state. If you don't have a dehydrator, the tomatoes can be dried to this state by spreading them on a baking sheet and placing in a 200 degree (Fahrenheit) oven until done.
Once the tomatoes had dried sufficiently, I packed them into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, added two small sprigs of fresh (washed and thoroughly dried) rosemary, and filled the jar with a nice olive oil to cover the tomatoes by at least 1/4 inch.**
Easy, delicious, and the best way I know to eat September tomatoes.
*To make rosemary salt:
Combined the leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary with approximately 1 1/2 cups medium-grind sea salt in the bowl of a food processor until rosemary is finely chopped and incorporated into the salt. Store in an air-tight container.
**Notes on storage and safety:
I will be storing my oil-packed tomatoes in the refrigerator. They should keep in the fridge for several months, though the oil will solidify. I've read other recipes that claim they can be kept in a dark, cool pantry, however I prefer the safer route of refrigerated storage. In addition, some recipes recommend dipping each tomato slice in vinegar before packing into the jar. This method supposedly helps acidify the the liquid and inhibits the growth of bacteria. I haven't tried this, but would consider it for the next batch. I'm curious about the flavor the vinegar would impart and, of course, if it helps preserve the fruit, so much the better.
A good book on this type of food preservation is Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning.
I'd love to hear from anyone else who's made their own oil-packed tomatoes. What method do you use?