Dehydrate Tomatoes In The Oven For Year-Round Deliciousness

Whether you have a batch of tomatoes left over from your summer garden or you're trying to find a tasty way to preserve your fruit, dehydrating tomatoes is a creative method for year-round deliciousness. Although they're typically dried in the sun, cooler weather and shorter days mean that preserving tomatoes may have to be an indoor activity.

Dehydrated tomatoes compact the rich, sweet flavor of the fruit into a smaller, more intense bite. The leathery, chewy morsels highlight the tomatoes' tart flavor in a heightened way. Drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and herbs, oven-dried tomatoes take on a savory, aromatic flavor that perfectly adorns pizzas and salads, and makes a wonderfully rich red pesto.

After dehydrating a large batch of tomatoes in the oven, you can store them away for up to a year, allowing you to experiment with the sweet and tangy pieces as the seasons go by. Read ahead to learn how to dry tomatoes and store them for vibrantly sweet flavor all year.

How to dehydrate tomatoes in the oven

When choosing the type of tomatoes to dehydrate, opt for ones with a low water content, fewer seeds, and a deep, rich flavor. While cherry, Roma, and San Marzano tomatoes hit all these targets, you can also peruse a farmers' market to see what's available, as local produce makes sustainable sense and tends to taste fresher.

After rinsing and patting your tomatoes dry, slice them in half or into smaller pieces. Gently scoop out some of the seeds of larger varieties. To dry them, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet, cut side up. Drizzle olive oil, pepper, and sea salt over the tomatoes. While you can go without the pepper, salt is vital for the dehydration process since it helps remove the excess water.

Place the tomatoes in the oven; after around an hour, remove them and sprinkle over some fresh herbs. (Although adding herbs can result in a shorter shelf-life.) Return to the oven for another hour or two, depending on their size, until they've reached your desired level of dryness. 

Once they're cool, place them in an airtight container. The safest way to store them is in the freezer in vacuum or Ziploc-style bags. Advice varies on how long they last out of the freezer. The traditional storage method is immersion in good-quality olive oil in an airtight jar, kept in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Ways to use dehydrated tomatoes throughout the year

When you have a large amount of dehydrated tomatoes, every average tomato dish is transformed with a richer, more intense flavor. They taste incredible on homemade pizza with slices of prosciutto and a sprinkling of feta. Swap out fresh tomatoes in a caprese sandwich for chewy pieces of dehydrated tomatoes that taste incredible with delicate slices of mozzarella and fresh arugula sandwiched in between toasted ciabatta bread.

Dehydrated tomatoes also add depth to tomato soup – after steeping them in with freshly blended tomatoes, use an immersion blender to puree the mix into a smooth, creamy soup that's richer than usual. For more of that luscious tomato flavor, you can pair the soup with chicken breast that's been stuffed with dehydrated tomatoes, spinach, and cheese.

Instead of chicken, you can opt to use the dehydrated tomatoes in a Mediterranean-baked stuffed eggplant dish that's plant-based and delicious. With salty olives complementing the tomatoes, this herby, earthy dish is enhanced by the oven-dried tomatoes' rich taste.

Dehydrated tomatoes also make a great addition to your spice cabinet. Toss them in a blender or spice grinder until they become a powder, and then use the seasoning to give your favorite dishes a savory tomato boost. You can also add the powder to your go-to spice rub blends for a unique dose of rich flavor.