Consider Size When Timing Your Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are chewy slices of bright, sweet flavor. When laid out in the sun, or dehydrator, the red fruits lose up to 90% of their weight, causing the flavor to become more concentrated and intense — perfect for pesto with pasta or to top on bruschetta.

While nature does all the work of drying out tomatoes, the process can take some time. Sun-drying tomatoes lasts anywhere from a few days to two weeks. If you've ever wondered why some of your tomatoes end up brittle and hard while others turn out to be watery and soft after a week, you're probably not taking size into account.

Outside of the amount of sunlight you get and where you place them, the size of the tomato will impact its drying time. Larger tomatoes with a high water content will take a lengthy time to dry out. When choosing which tomatoes to dry, opt for the ones where the fruit is thick and there isn't too much juice — and make sure all of the sizes are similar.

How to sun dry tomatoes at home

Smaller, fleshier tomatoes like roma, cherry, grape, and San Marzano work best for sun drying. Once you've picked your batch of tomatoes, clean them to get rid of any dirt or debris that you don't want sitting on your tomatoes for days. Cut the tomatoes in the center and lay them out on a framed, mesh-covered screen with the sliced side facing up.

Sprinkle salt, thyme, rosemary, and oregano onto the tomatoes and leave them outside for a few days, checking them every now and then. To keep them protected, hang a cheesecloth or mesh netting over them to prevent bugs and animals from eating them. You can also bring them in at night and set them out in the morning again.

When the tomatoes are chewy and leathery, similar to a raisin, they're ready to be brought in. Store them in an airtight glass jar or plastic bag and keep them in the fridge or freezer, where they can last for up to nine months.