How to Make Authentic Sun Dried Tomatoes

Last week I wrote about making fruit leather dried in the sun, and about my attempts to make sun dried tomatoes that way, and since I just brought them inside today, I wanted to share my experience with you.

The more I do this, the more I'm fascinated by how easy and simple it is. Making sun dried tomatoes is even quicker than making fruit leather. Anything you want to dehydrate can be dehydrated in the sun. I mean, this is the oldest method of food preservation that there is out there, and it wasn't one that was done with any fancy equipment.
Which means its perfect for the frugalista who doesn't want to buy fancy things.
(I'm thinking now, though, if I wanted to make jerky, if I could still dry it this way. Or if animals would come and eat it. Or if it would spoil before it could become dry. How did people do this in the past?)

So how did I do it?

I took tomatoes that I bought super cheaply and sliced them into thin slices. 

I lay them out flat on parchment paper on a table in my backyard in the sun.

I then covered them with a thin breathable undyed cloth, on top of scrap wooden pieces making a frame so that it didn't touch the tomatoes, and held down with more wood, so that it wouldn't blow away and so bugs couldn't get into it.

I then checked on it every day. After one day it already was somewhat dry.

After two days it was pretty dry.

After three days it was mostly dry and I probably could have taken it in by then.

After four days it was bone dry, and that's when I brought it inside.

This is with only getting sun half the day, and being left out all night in the cooler air.

Mine are quite dry, and in retrospect I probably should have brought them in one day earlier, because the stuff sold in the store aren't nearly as dry as this. They're quite chewy. I probably can also cut these less thinly in the future to get a more similar result to the store bought stuff.

These taste delicious! So yummy!

I'm thinking of soaking some of these in olive oil to use for certain recipes.

What are your favorite things to do with sun dried tomatoes? I never buy them because of how expensive they are, but now these are super cheap to make and I have a whole new ingredient in my kitchen arsenal and I need to start exploring!

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Well done penniless! I don't eat fresh tomatoes, but I like sundried tomatoes; you've inspired me to try dry some myself. I like to mix them with chopped chicken breast and basil, and then stuff inside chicken breast and roll up, bake and slice.
    The commercial ones are often salted, so you may need to add salt to recipes you adapt.

  2. I'll try this if we get some sun this year :D

  3. I think with meat they would smoke it over a kind of smudge fire to dry it out. The smoke kept the bugs away and smoked the meat which preserved it but the heat from the fire wasnt hot enough to cook the meat. It would slowly dry and was hung or draped on branches or sticks.


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