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Sun dried tomatoes in oil

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navigator9

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For years now, I've been buying the big jar of sun dried tomatoes in oil from Costco. I love them. Recently, when I went to buy them, they were not the same brand, but now the Kirkland brand from Costco. I really like that brand, so I gave them a try and they were awful. They were just mush, no texture at all. I must not have been the only one who disliked them, because the next time I went back, they no longer had either brand in oil, only the first brand again, but now not it in oil, just dried in a bag. So I thought, OK, I'll just use my own olive oil. So I got a nice big jar, and started layering in the tomatoes with some dried Italian herbs, followed by olive oil. They've been sitting there for about a week, and I tried some today. Here's my problem, they still have that leathery texture, not the smooth, softness of the ones you buy in oil. Do they just need more time? Should I have heated the oil? I figure there's probably someone out there who does this, and knows if they will get softer with time. Why did they ever stop carrying the original ones, they were so good!
 

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We have made our own sundried tomatoes for a long time. They do get softer the longer they are in oil but part of the equation is how crisply dried they were in the first place and how meaty the tomatoes were. Some of them will have a chewier texture if they were dried more thoroughly but they are always good. The mush from Kirkland was probably from not having dried them adequately.

We always dip ours in a really good balsamic vinegar, pack them into the jars and then pour good olive oil over them to the top. They hold that way for a long time. I wouldn't heat the oil; I think it may slightly break down the oil which could lead to rancidity earlier than you'd like. I love them right out of the jar. Have you made sun dried tomato pesto? So so good and edible straight out of the jar.
 

DeeAnna

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I have a dehydrator and love to preserve stuff. I've never quite known what to do with dried tomatoes though, but I'd like to change that if I can. What you like to do with them besides eating as snacks?
 

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http://allrecipes.com/recipe/19304/chicken-milano/

It's really tasty. I actually use my kitchen stick blender on this one to make the sauce into a smooth consistency - light trace. LOL

ETA: When I use the tomatoes packed in oil for this recipe... I use the oil instead of butter to cook my chicken and then blot off as much oil as possible from the tomatoes before adding them to my sauce.
 
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newbie

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there are a lot of sun dried tomato pesto recipes out there. Trying to dig up mine- I eat it out of the jar with a spoon, it's so good.

Sliced thinly and put on pizza is good too!
 
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newbie

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about half a pint of dried tomatoes, maybe a 1/4 cup olive oil, a clove of garlic, some hard cheese like parmo or Asiago, probably a tsp of salt and a tsp of peppercorns. Grind it up and adjust for consistency by adding more oil.


Seriously delicious.
 

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I have a dehydrator and love to preserve stuff. I've never quite known what to do with dried tomatoes though, but I'd like to change that if I can. What you like to do with them besides eating as snacks?
Sun dried tomatoes are great on pizza, pasta dishes, in sauces, on toasted baguettes and bruschetta. You could probably put them on paninis and sandwiches too. I bet they would be great sauteed with bell peppers, onions, and sweet italian sausage. They're good in taco salad bowls too. Imagine them like olives, and all the yummy stuff you can put olives in!
 

navigator9

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We have made our own sundried tomatoes for a long time. They do get softer the longer they are in oil but part of the equation is how crisply dried they were in the first place and how meaty the tomatoes were. Some of them will have a chewier texture if they were dried more thoroughly but they are always good. The mush from Kirkland was probably from not having dried them adequately.

We always dip ours in a really good balsamic vinegar, pack them into the jars and then pour good olive oil over them to the top. They hold that way for a long time. I wouldn't heat the oil; I think it may slightly break down the oil which could lead to rancidity earlier than you'd like. I love them right out of the jar. Have you made sun dried tomato pesto? So so good and edible straight out of the jar.
Thanks for that, Newb. Yes, I love them straight out of the jar too! They are so yummy. I have not made pesto with them, but I'll put that on my list.

I have a dehydrator and love to preserve stuff. I've never quite known what to do with dried tomatoes though, but I'd like to change that if I can. What you like to do with them besides eating as snacks?
Oh Dee, they are wonderful in so many things. One of my favorites is to use them when I make focaccia, and I use the oil to brush the dough before I bake it. You can use them on a sandwich. I add some when I make hummus. I make puff pastry pinwheels with feta, sun dried tomatoes and spinach. I haven't finished my coffee yet, so my brain isn't fully engaged, but I know I have many recipes that use them, because I'm always going through one jar and putting them on my shopping list. The ones packed in oil are really the best, to me, softer and more flavorful. And the oil is an added bonus that can be used in so many ways, flavored by the tomatoes and the herbs in it.
 

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Oh my ... that chicken milano recipe sounds wickedly good. I happen to have a cup of heavy cream in the fridge right now for a particular recipe ... but I don't have chicken and I don't have dried tomatoes. This is a lesson about patience being a virtue. :) And the other ideas -- thank you, all -- they sound really good.

It's supposed to frost here this week, so I need to get down to the garden, harvest what I can before that happens, and get the dehydrator filled. I've canned what tomatoes I want to can for the coming year.

So just so I know for sure -- I want to dry the tomatoes to a leather consistency, not to crispness? I think that's where I went wrong the time I tried this a few years back. And then it sounds like you can go one of two ways -- either leave the tomatoes as is or layer them in a jar and cover w good oil. Any concerns about botulism with the tomatoes in oil?
 

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I have my last batch of tomatoes in the excaliber as we speak...some from the garden, some that were gifts from patients. I found that in the past I have cut them too thin and besides the issue that they become a PITA to get off the screen, they don't do well in the olive oil. Now I use the thick slice setting on my mandolin slicer and it works well. I love the idea of dipping them in balsamic vinegar...my daughters weakness...she waits all year for the really expensive stuff to go on sale and then stocks up. I once got her a $50 bottle for the holidays and she guards it like fort knox (honestly the taste was worth every penny).
Disappointing that the kirkland brand was so bad, usually they outperform the best name brands IMHO.
Gonna see if I can steal some of her balsamic....
 

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Some of the tomatoes may dry to crispness if they are cut very thin but leathery is better. We do ours in an oven on low (190) and they can take a number of hours to fully dry. We haven't used the $50 balsamic. We get that kind of stuff in small bottles and I have to admit, my son and I each get our favorites and we tend to drink it right out of the bottle- it's that good. We have a Von Fass here and another place that sells barrel cured things (oils, vinegars, spirits) and use a good quality balsamic but not the thick syrupy incredible ones. Those are too special.
 
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rparrny

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Some of the tomatoes may dry to crispness if they are cut very thin but leathery is better. We do ours in an oven on low (190) and they can take a number of hours to fully dry. We haven't used the $50 balsamic. We get that kind of stuff in small bottles and I have to admit, my son and I each get our favorites and we tend to drink it right out of the bottle- it's that good. We have a Von Fass here and another place that sells barrel cured things (oils, vinegars, spirits) and use a good quality balsamic but not the thick syrupy incredible ones. Those are too special.
No, this one isn't too thick for dipping and believe it or not it was not the most expensive one I found...they had one for $220 for FOUR OUNCES! I love my daughter but that was not something I was going for...
My mandolin cuts slices so thin you can see through them, so the thicker setting was just perfect for most things. I like to slice them and after drying make it into a powder...works great in pastas and in gravies.
 

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Oh happy day! I was at Costco earlier today, and guess what? Yup, the sun dried tomatoes in oil are baaaaaack! I guess they must have heard a lot of complaints about the replacements. Just thought you might like to know. :clap::grin:
 

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I've got some tomato slices drying in my oven as I write this -- they're about 2/3rds dry by now. Looking forward to enjoying the results of this!
 

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I opened one my starred jars of SD tomatoes (starred indicated I packed it with the best tomatoes of the batches) which was sealed in 2007 and dove in. They are delicious and still perfect and I haven't died, so the acidity and the sealing work to keep them in working order for a long time. I couldn't find pine nuts at the store yesterday but have everything else for the pesto and I am hoping to happily pig out on it soon. I really want the toasted pine nuts in there though.

Yes, $50 an ounce for balsamic is a bit too steep for me too. I can find stuff that would rival port for complexity and taste (no alcohol though of course) for much less than that. For tomato dipping, I get a good quality big bottle that is not very expensive but has good flavors.
 

DeeAnna

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Well, I'm admitting defeat. The non-paste tomatoes I grew this year are just not meaty enough to dry down properly. The thinner parts get crunchy dry while the thicker bits are still watery. When they finally dry down to more or less leathery, they're also turning black with oxidation. The result is really not appealing.

I'm going to have to grow a few bushes of paste type 'maters next year and try again with them. In the meantime, I need to find some good dried tomatoes in olive oil and learn what kind of finished product I should be aiming for.
 

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Don't be defeated yet! This is what my tomatoes look like out of the jar. Definitely not red. We cut ours in halves or quarters, depending on the size and I have done cherry tomatoes as well. Give the watery ones a little more time to dry if they are truly watery but meatier tomatoes are going to feel a little squishy but shouldn't exude juice if squeezed. I think it's worth packing one jar of what you have so you can see if you like them and they come out okay. My cherry tomatoes are more chewy but still taste really good and they dried on the crisp side. Plus, if you make pesto out of them or food process them for something else, that texture isn't so detectable as they are chopped so fine.

image.jpg
 
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DeeAnna

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Thanks for the encouragement. I really truly didn't care for how the first batch turned out, although I can see from your pic that even properly dried tomatoes won't win any beauty contests. :)

Couple of issues I thought of this morning. I dried them in the oven, and I think that they might have gotten too hot as the oven cycled on and off. There were browned/baked looking parts and they tasted bitter. Another is that I sliced them and you said you halved the little ones and quartered the larger ones. I think halving/quartering might make a difference -- there would be fewer really thin places, fewer holes.

I'll try another small batch today -- use the smaller tomatoes, halve or quarter them, and put them in the dehydrator not the oven. And have more realistic expectations of the outcome!
 
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DeeAnna

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I think I'm finally on a roll! I trashed my first batch (the one I wrote about on 10/15). Tried another batch yesterday. Used the dehydrator rather than the oven and left the tomatoes in (much!) larger pieces than what my preserving books were telling me. This last batch of dried tomatoes are intensely tomato-ey with a sweet, acidic tang. Used to flavor a dish, they would be fine, but I wouldn't want to eat them for a snack like dried apples. In comparison, the previous batch had a sour, metallic (I dried them on metal racks like a doofus), and slightly burned flavor. Huge difference!

Here's what I did --

Wash and core small to medium tomatoes. Roma or paste type tomatoes are nice, but regular tomatoes work well too. (mine were all regular 'maters)
Quarter all but the very smallest tomatoes. The smallest ones can be cut in half.
Remove the seeds from all the seed cavities. Do what you can to drain and shake off as much free liquid as you can.
Place the pieces skin side down on a dehydrator rack. You can space the pieces closely, but leave enough room so they don't overlap or touch.
Put in a dehydrator and dry the pieces at 130 to 135 F.
Rotate the racks as needed every few hours so the pieces dry as evenly as possible.
About 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through, you may also want to flip the pieces so they are skin side up, and then flip them back skin side down a few hours later. This keeps the tomatoes from gluing themselves to the drying rack.
Toward the end of the drying time, reduce the temperature to 120 to 125 F so the edges and thinner parts don't dry out too much.
Dry for 18 to 24 hours or until the pieces are still pliable, but don't have any squishy or damp spots. There may be a few crispy edges, but try to remove pieces as they are done so they stay leathery and chewy.

I'm doing another batch tonight and will eventually put them in oil.

THANKS, Newbie!!!! I would have given up without your encouragement! :)

P1020054 600.jpg
 
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