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Solar-Dried Tomatoes: Your Umami-Packed Secret Weapon within the Kitchen


While you consider sun-dried tomatoes as greater than only a specialty ingredient, there’s no finish to the methods you should utilize them within the kitchen. Right here’s every little thing it is advisable know in regards to the scrumptious dried items, together with how they’re made, rehydrate them, and maximize the facility of their umami-rich, flavor-boosting properties in your favourite recipes.

What Are Solar-Dried Tomatoes?

Solar-dried tomatoes are precisely what they sound like: tomatoes which have been dried within the solar or dehydrated in sun-like warmth to protect them. As they dry, the tomatoes darken and shrivel into flat, wrinkled rounds with a pliable texture much like dried fruit.

However not like dried fruit, sun-dried tomatoes will not be meant to be eaten plain. The feel is a bit of too chewy, a bit of too bland, although the drying course of concentrates the tomatoes’ pure umami qualities. As soon as they’re rehydrated and/or marinated, their wealthy, complicated flavors are launched and their agency flesh plumps up and turns into a bit of extra tender, revealing their true potential.

Purchasing Ideas

Though you’ll generally discover oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes on the retailer, Forks Over Knives recommends choosing dry-packed varieties, to keep away from including pointless fats to your dishes. Pouches of dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes may be discovered alongside dried fruits, on shows within the produce part, and in bulk bins at supermarkets. They’re generally stocked beside jars of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes within the canned items or pasta aisles, as properly.

Examine for freshness: Give pouches a fast twist and shake to ensure the tomatoes inside nonetheless really feel pliable. If shopping for from a bulk bin, use the tongs to bend a tomato to ensure it isn’t too onerous or dry.

Sulfites: In case you are delicate to sulfites, a preservative generally used to protect tomatoes’ coloration, verify the label to ensure the model is sulfite-free.

How Are They Tomatoes Made?

Drying tomatoes within the sizzling summer time solar has been a meals preservation approach since historic occasions. Native Individuals sun-dried tomatoes together with berries and corn.

After tomatoes made their solution to Europe and have become a staple in Italy, Italians would dry tomatoes on the tile roofs of their houses. These days, most sun-dried tomatoes are made in amenities that begin the drying course of in a dehydrator and end it on massive wooden trays within the solar. (You possibly can see the method right here in a video from The Produce Nerd.)

Some producers dry the tomatoes by dehydrator alone and/or deal with the tomatoes with sulfites akin to sulfur dioxide to maintain them a brilliant, vibrant pink and enhance storage life. Along with triggering sensitivities for some individuals, these processes may also impression the flavour and texture of the tomatoes. To not fear, although: If the sun-dried tomatoes you purchase appear a bit of blah, simply strive one other model till you discover one you want.

Learn how to Rehydrate Solar-Dried Tomatoes

In case you’re utilizing sun-dried tomatoes in a brothy dish like a soup, stew, or pasta sauce, chances are you’ll not must rehydrate solar–dried tomatoes; the recent liquid within the recipe ought to do the trick. However for different makes use of, rehydrating is the key to unlocking the tangy-sweet, ultra-tomato-ey wonderfulness of sun-dried tomatoes. And rehydrating them proper is the key to reworking them from skinny, chewy disks into plump, tender morsels. Right here’s do it within the microwave or on the range.

Within the Microwave

1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Add twice the quantity of water or low-sodium vegetable broth (for instance, use 2 cups liquid for 1 cup tomatoes). Cowl and microwave on excessive energy for two minutes.

2. Go away to plump within the water for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

On the Range

1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small saucepan. Add twice as a lot water or low-sodium vegetable broth (for instance, use 2 cups liquid for 1 cup tomatoes).

2. Activate warmth and produce simply to a simmer, then take away from the warmth and allow them to plump for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Storage

Retailer unopened packages of dry-pack sun-dried tomatoes in a cool, darkish, dry place. After opening, verify the product label for storage directions. Some manufacturers advocate refrigerating after opening; others don’t. In case you see no point out of refrigeration, maintain sun-dried tomatoes of their packaging or switch to a tight-sealing container, and retailer in a cool, darkish, dry place.

Can You Make Solar-Dried Tomatoes at Residence?

Except you reside in a local weather with sizzling summers, low humidity, and few tomato-loving bugs, your finest wager for sun-drying tomatoes at house is within the kitchen. Right here’s make your individual within the oven, meals dehydrator, or air fryer.

1. Wash and halve ripe, peak-season tomatoes lengthwise, then squeeze out a lot of the juice and seeds from the facilities. (You possibly can add the juice to different recipes, or simply to drink it!)

2. Place the tomatoes, reduce sides up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, on dehydrator trays, or in an air-fryer basket.

3. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit of sea salt. (This step is elective, however the salt helps draw the moisture from the tomatoes in order that they dry extra evenly.)

4. Set the oven or air fryer to 240˚F; if utilizing a dehydrator, set the thermostat to 160˚F. Go away the tomatoes to dry within the oven for 4 to six hours, within the air fryer for 60 to 90 minutes, or within the dehydrator for 8 to 10 hours, till they’re dry and agency however nonetheless pliable. The tomatoes could take extra time if they’re particularly massive or juicy.

5. Permit the tomatoes to chill, then gently loosen them from the pan or tray and switch them to an hermetic container. Retailer within the fridge for a number of weeks or within the freezer for a number of months. (As a result of moisture ranges can range when drying tomatoes at house, it’s finest to refrigerate or freeze them to keep away from molding and spoilage.)

Taste-Boosting Methods to Use Solar-Dried Tomatoes

Obtained a salad dressing that tastes so-so? A dip that’s a tiny bit drab? A soup or stew that wants an additional one thing? Or possibly you simply wish to jazz up a throw-together weeknight meal so it tastes a bit of particular. Solar-dried tomatoes to the rescue! Right here’s use the little taste bombs to reinforce all kinds of savory recipes.

Sauces: Mix 1 or 2 rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes right into a sauce or salad dressing to spherical out flavors.

Dips and spreads: Stir 1 to 2 Tbsp. (or extra) finely chopped rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes right into a dip or unfold for added texture. Or mix them in with the opposite components for heightened taste.

Soups and stews: Simmer ¼ to ½ cup diced dry-pack sun-dried tomatoes with the opposite components in a soup or stew for a young, chewy component that brightens up the entire recipe.

Freestyle umami add-ins: Toss pasta, veggies, beans, grains, and salad greens with ¼ cup diced or julienned rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes for a tangy-sweet counterpoint. Add them to casserole bases, as properly, or simply sprinkle them excessive like a garnish.

Recipes That Showcase Solar-Dried Tomatoes

Put all of the candy, sun-drenched taste of sun-dried tomatoes entrance and middle in your desk with these top-rated recipes.

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