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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Oven Dried Tomatoes

I made my own oven dried tomatoes this week! Yes, just writing that makes me feel so homely and a little smug. Hehehe - I make my own dried tomatoes....and what do you do with your life? Although...it starts to sound worryingly like I'll turn into one of those sad people that Nigel Slater writes about who start smugly making everything when they don't need to, out of some misplaced sense of superiority. He points out, 'how often have you had homemade pasta or a pizza base that was actually inferior to the quality stuff you can buy nowdays?' And I have to agree; I've tasted some bad homemade pasta and cardboardy homemade pizza bases.
But, these dried tomatoes don't fit into that category, and you don't have to worry about me turning into that kind of person; I'm yet to even make my own bread! (and my day-long effort making stupendously awful Hot Cross Buns taught me well that when there are such good ones to buy, that I shouldn't even bother wasting a whole day attempting something better. Or worse. I think I have yeast issues...)
But....lots of tomatoes in the fridge, and I'm the only person in our household who eats fresh tomatoes. Incredible, isn't it?? How can you not love a fresh tomato?? Oh, they'll eat them as pasta sauce or tomato paste, but not in salads, not grilled, not on a sandwich. Bah! So they wouldn't start rotting I decided to do something I've been considering for a while, and reinforced itself as I read my new Jill Dupleix book - slice them up, throw them in a cool oven for a long time with some seasonings and go to bed. Ok - I didn't go to bed, but that's the option she describes.

What you do is slice up your tomatoes, sprinkle them with some salt, pepper, caster sugar and fresh thyme (or oregano or whatever you like), I added a few spashes of balsamic vinegar to mine, which was a great decision. I set them on a rack with a pan underneath to catch drips, and slipped them into a 100 celsuis oven for about 7 hours. Jill recommended a 60 celsius oven overnight, but I started at lunchtime and needed to go to a rehearsal at 7.30, so I figured 100 degrees would work pretty well.
Well, as it happened, I turned off the oven before I ran out to rehearsal, but didn't have time to take them out, so I let them sit in the cooling oven. Then when I came home I forgot to take them out, so they sat there overnight! I can only say it was an inspired 'decision' as these tomatoes turned out wonderfully. They're just like tomato candy. Essence of tomato! They're lightyears better than the ones you can buy at the deli or supermarket. Depending on how I sliced them some are chewy and toothsome, and some are still a little juicy inside. I put them in a jar with some extra-virgin olive oil and they're quickly disappearing from the fridge. So far I've had them on bread, with lentil and vegetable stew, in salads, on their own as I make a swerving detour to the fridge as I walk through the kitchen.....
Next time I'll cut down on the salt and increase the sugar a little to improve the taste balance - they're a little over-the-top saltwise.
It strikes me that these would be an ideal Christmas gift to make for people who have some time, but not a lot of money to spend on gifts. Or even if you want to give something homemade. I'm already collecting jars. :-)
Now, I have to run off again to another rehearsal - we're doing the Tallis 40 part motet Spem in alium broadcast live-to-air across Australia next Saturday evening - exciting stuff!! Stay tuned for my SHF and IMBB entries tomorrow!


  • First: on your upcoming broadcast? Impressive! That's some piece...do you have any recordings of your group? Matt and I would love to hear them.

    Second: just today I was thinking about making tomatoes like that...I caught an episode of Everyday Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, and thought...that would be tasty. I should do that.

    Reading your post, I really should do that.

    And I am turning into one of the people...I'm making Everything from scratch these days! (btw; I've been meaning to ask a folk lorist/linguist friend of mine where and what exactly 'from scratch' came from)

    Ok, I don't make my own pasta...but that's just because I don't know where the machine is just now...

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 5/21/2005 03:10:00 pm  

  • Hang on, the show is called "Easy Entertaining"...I'm up too late.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 5/21/2005 03:10:00 pm  

  • Stephanie - Lol! Oops-I should clarify: by 'those sort of people' I mean the type who get insufferable smug and smirky about it "oooh. You *buy* your wonton wrappers, do you. Yes, well I *make* all of mine...". You know the type - most people know that it's not only easier to *buy* things like wonton wrappers, but 9 times out of 10, they're better than what you can make yourself. Nigel Slater used those examples in in a section he wrote called "overacheiving", and concluded by saying that nobody should be intimidated into making everything that goes on your table; you won't get Brownie points, and some people might think you're a bit sad (!!! A bit strong, but he's not one to shy away from strong point of view!)
    Yes - my group has made a recording; just last year before we toured overseas. Every concert in our series in recorded by the ABC for broadcast across Australia, but this one is going live, which is a scarier in prospect!
    CD here:

    By Blogger Niki, at 5/21/2005 07:27:00 pm  

  • AG - Yes, I know I don't need a photo, but I'm kind of hoping that, as my delay is only for 24 hours, that I'll just be one of the later entries. It's so hard to write an entry without a photo to refer to...at least it is for me.
    Did you catch Eurovision last night? Wasn't it FABULOUS? The frocks, the pansy men dancers, the grannies in wheelchairs playing drums, the regulation piano accordians and bagpipes...I love Eurovision so much - I'm having a party tomorrow night for the finals.

    By Blogger Niki, at 5/21/2005 07:29:00 pm  

  • I've never tried oven dried tomatoes. I've tried "oven candied" tomatoes and was not impressed with the result.

    It is nice to have this recipe around for when I have lots of tomatoes. Thanks Niki.

    By Blogger Ana, at 5/21/2005 09:15:00 pm  

  • Oven Dried tomates are the best :)

    By Blogger eat stuff, at 5/22/2005 01:30:00 am  

  • Thanks, Niki...I'll be ordering that soon!

    No, I don't make everything...and I don't feel smug about it (although Matt, the bystander and beneficiary, often sports a Cheshire grin). I'm never convinced I've gotten it right!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 5/22/2005 02:48:00 am  

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