Home LifestyleAdvice How to Store Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes: 3 Best Storage Methods

How to Store Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes: 3 Best Storage Methods

By isha.m
1.4K views 2 mins read
how to store homemade sun-dried tomatoes

It wasn’t the first time my mom made me my favorite pasta when I visited home! But suddenly I noticed, there’s something off!

After staring at the bowl for 1 minute straight, I realized she didn’t add her amazing sun-dried tomatoes.

That’s what I miss the most when I make pasta for myself. So, I told myself, why don’t I just learn how to store homemade sun-dried tomatoes?

After a few messed-up efforts, I finally made it. But while researching, I thought, Why not write this down? So, here’s what I wanted to write down and what you were looking for.

Key Takeaways:
You can use sun-drying, air-drying, dehydrator-drying, oven-drying, and freeze-drying methods to make dried tomatoes.
There are three different methods of storing sun-dried tomatoes: oil method, dry storage, and freezing method.

What Are Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

The name itself is self-defining. A bunch of tomatoes dehydrated in sunlight or through methods like dehydrators or ovens are called sundried tomatoes. Along with bringing in intense flavor and chewy texture, these dried tomatoes have a concentrated sweetness.

This means if you’re asking for deeply flavored ingredients for your different cuisines, this is it. These completely dried tomatoes are perfect for foods like pizzas, pasta sauces, salads, and so many more.

Benefits of Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Probably you were thinking about using those fully dried tomatoes just to make the food taste better. But that’s not the only benefit they’ve got in their bag.

Benefits of Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Benefits of Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Nutrient: If you want something that can get you a pile of lycopene, which is an antioxidant, vitamins C and K, and potassium.
  • Flavor Booster: Thanks to the deep umami of the delicious sun-dried tomatoes, they add zinc to pasta, dips, sauces, etc. This is what works as the intense flavor booster you’re looking for.
  • Extended Shelf Life: Who doesn’t want perfect deliciousness over the year? Sun-drying tomatoes stay that way without any preservatives.
  • Budget-Friendly: Storing dried tomatoes would serve you better, from both a taste and budget perspective.

Choosing the Right Tomatoes

To dry your tomatoes, you need to pick the right ones first. Finding it a bit difficult?

Below is a list of the things you need to keep in mind:

Pick the Right Variety

You can go with anything like San Marzano, plum, or Roma tomatoes for sun-drying. I count these as great picks, as all of them come with more flesh but less water. And yes, you can pick cherry tomatoes as well. They, too, are perfect for quicker drying and have a sweet and intense flavor.

Check the Ripeness

When you’re getting tomatoes fully ripe, they come with the assurance of concentrated sweetness and flavor. Also, make sure those ripe tomatoes are free from any kind of bruise or blemish if you want to avoid potential spoilage.

Organic and Similar Size

Inorganic tomatoes may contain unwanted chemicals. So, try using the organic ones for the best outcome. Also, make sure the size of the tomatoes is even.

Key Ingredients

For obvious reasons, you’re going to need a few things to complete the whole process.

So, here’s the list of things you need to put together for sun-drying fresh tomatoes.

  • Tomatoes – Try picking Roma, Plum, and San Marzano varieties.
  • Olive Oil – For flavoring and preserving (optional).
  • Salt – Can be used for seasoning (optional).
  • Fresh herbs – For seasoning (thyme, basil, or oregano).
  • Garlic – For added flavor (optional).
  • Sugar – To balance acidity (optional).
  • Vinegar – For preserving (optional).
  • Black pepper – For seasoning (optional).

3 Best Drying Methods For Preserving Homemade Tomatoes

Before learning how to store homemade sun-dried tomatoes, you need to know how to dry them properly in the first place, don’t you?

Here are the 3 most useful ones to get your delicious homemade sun-dried tomatoes:

Sun-Drying

Sun drying is the most common method for drying tomatoes. It’s indeed a time-consuming process, but it’s been working well for years in different corners of the globe.

Sun-Drying
Sun-Drying
  • Put the washed and sliced tomatoes on a clean tray, and season them with some salt or herbs if you like.
  • Place the tray in a sunny spot. Make sure it’s well-ventilated too.
  • To save from dust or dirt, cover the tray with mesh.
  • Turn occasionally for better and even drying.
  • Once the drying is done and the tomatoes are feeling leathery, put them in an airtight container.
  • Put dried tomatoes in olive oil or store them in the fridge. You can keep the sun-dried tomatoes in the pantry if you’re using olive oil.

Dehydrator Drying

It’s a more effective and efficient method. It involves a dehydrator where you can use controlled air circulation and heat to dry the tomatoes efficiently.

Things are pretty simple when it comes to the dehydrator drying method. All you have to do is:

Dehydrator Drying
Dehydrator Drying
  • Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and slice them evenly.
  • Place the tomato slices on your dehydrator tray. Keep them in a single layer.
  • Though it is optional, you can add some salt for better seasoning. Some herbs will also do the trick.
  • Set the dehydrator at 125°F to 135°F and let the tomatoes dry for 6–12 hours.
  • Check the tomatoes. They should be leathery and not have any visible moisture.
  • Let them cool off on the tray.
  • Now put the dried tomatoes in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place. Use an airtight container to hold the tomatoes.

Oven Drying

When you’re asking for a faster way where your tomatoes will dry evenly, this is your catch.

But how do you pull this off?

Oven Drying
Oven Drying

Simple! Just follow these steps:

  • Set the oven to 200°F or 95°C.
  • Wash and dry up the tomatoes. Then slice the washed tomatoes into halves. Make sure you’re picking tomatoes that are ripe and have a low water content.
  • Pat dry the tomatoes with paper towels to get rid of any extra moisture.
  • Take a baking sheet and put the tomatoes on it. Keep them lined with parchment paper.
  • Now put the baking sheet into the oven and leave the oven door slightly open to let the moisture escape.
  • Continue to dry the tomatoes for 6–8 hours at least. If they’re not shriveled, leathery, and slightly pliable, keep them there for a bit longer.
  • Keep the tomatoes in check and see if they’re drying properly. For even drying, rotate the baking sheet.
  • Once tomatoes are dried, let them cool down completely. After that, put the tomatoes into the jar you’ve kept for them. You can pour olive oil or use fresh herbs or garlic to preserve tomatoes in a better way.

How to Store Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes: Top 3 Methods

There are a bunch of ways to preserve sun-dried tomatoes for the long term, and here they are:

Oil Method

In this method, you need to place the sun-dried tomatoes in a clean and sterilized jar. Once all of them are in, you have to cover them completely with olive oil. Some might prefer to keep dried tomatoes in oil mixtures. But that, too, has to be based on olive oil.

Oil Method
Oil Method

The good side of this method is that it adds more richness to the tomatoes while also preventing mold growth. So, if you want to instantly pack the tomatoes and store them for a few months, this one is perfect for you.

The downside of this technique is that, apart from taking up more space, it adds extra calories to the tomatoes.

Dry Storage

I call it the ‘less messy’ technique. Here, you have to store sun-dried tomatoes in an airtight container and put them in a cool, dark place. You can use both jars and cloth bags here.

Dry Storage
Dry Storage

Another reason why I love this one is that it can extend the shelf life of your dehydrated tomatoes by up to a year. Don’t worry; that won’t mess up the flavor.

There’s bad news too. You can’t use your sun-dried tomatoes without rehydrating them.

Freezing Method

In this technique, you have to put the dried tomatoes on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once they’re solid, put them in a freezer-safe bag.

Freezing Method
Freezing Method

You can keep these sun-dried tomatoes in the freezer or refrigerator for around 18 months, maintaining similar flavor and texture.

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

I guess you’ve already got some ideas for this part. So, if you don’t want to buy sun-dried tomatoes and prefer to make some, go for it.

First, start by washing the tomatoes and slicing them. Pat them with a paper towel, as that helps the tomatoes to remove extra moisture. Then season them with some herbs and salt. Put them on a tray and in a single layer.

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

Now place it in a sunny spot and cover the tray with mesh. Turn the slices after some time. Once the tomatoes are fully dry, store them in an airtight container.

If you’ve got any remaining tomatoes, repeat the process.

This is how people all over the globe dry thousands of pounds of tomatoes every year.

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil?

You already know how to get your tomatoes sun-dried. But here comes the challenging part: drying them.

By the way, oil can be used for storing tomatoes perfectly, which will last for months. In fact, tomatoes stored in oil are better tasting. Plus, the oil creates a barrier that prevents mold.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get a clean jar and sterilize it for 10 minutes straight.
  • Use sun-dried tomatoes to fill the jar. Make sure you’re doing it layer by layer.
  • Pour extra-virgin oil all over the tomatoes and make them fully submerged.
  • Now seal the jar properly and store the tomatoes in your refrigerator.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Is It Safe?

There is no major risk in storing dried tomatoes in olive oil. But that’s only when you store them in the right way. And if you mess up on that part, there are certain things you might have to deal with.

It’s true that wrongly stored tomatoes in olive oil create the perfect environment for botulism growth. It can lead to a potentially fatal illness. And if you somehow leave even a small amount of moisture in there, it can spoil the tomatoes.

Plus, oil-packed tomatoes don’t come with a long shelf life. And yes, these sun-dried tomatoes offer a higher fat content as well.

How to Store Sun-Dried Tomatoes Without Oil?

It’s totally okay if you’re not thinking about storing your tomatoes in oil. After all, the maximum shelf you’ll get there is 2 months.

How to Store Sun-Dried Tomatoes Without Oil
Store Sun-Dried Tomatoes Without Oil

But if that’s the case, you can store it without oil as well, and that’s how you do it:

  • Before storing, make sure none of the sun-dried tomatoes have moisture on them.
  • Put the tomatoes in an airtight container. Resealable plastic bags are also perfect for the job.
  • Make sure you’re removing as much air as possible.
  • Put the container/bag in a dark and cool place, such as a pantry.
  • To detect the signs of mold or bad odor, check the tomatoes periodically.

How to Freeze Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

If you find it boring to make or buy sun-dried tomatoes again and again, freezing is probably the best option for you, and this is how you pull that off:

  • Dry up the tomatoes completely before freezing.
  • Put them on a single layer of a baking sheet.
  • Place them in the freezer and wait till they’re firm. Waiting for 1-2 hours should be enough.
  • Once the tomatoes are frozen, shift them into an airtight freezer bag or container. Make sure you’re removing as much air as possible.
  • Put a label on the freezer bag with the date you’re freezing it, and store it for up to 6–12 months.

Final Words

Yes, we’re done!

And I hope now the last thing on earth you’ll have to worry about is how to store homemade sun-dried tomatoes in the first place.

In this blog, I’ve tried to tell you everything from how to make sun-dried tomatoes at home to storing them in different ways.

I guess now you won’t have to miss your mom’s sun-dried tomatoes like I do.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can you store sun-dried tomatoes in oil?

If you store them correctly, you can enjoy these tomatoes for up to two months. But make sure you’re using fully dried tomatoes and oil of good quality here.

What happens if you don’t refrigerate sun-dried tomatoes?

In sun-dried tomatoes in oil, botulism growth can be a serious problem if they’re not refrigerated properly. Plus, if somehow any moisture gets trapped in the tomatoes, it can lead to mold growth.

How long do sun-dried tomatoes last in the pantry?

If stored properly, a container of sealed tomatoes should last for one to two years. But once you break it, you’ll have to refrigerate it instantly. That way, you can keep it good for up to 6 months.

Do homemade sun-dried tomatoes need to be refrigerated?

Yes, you should refrigerate your homemade tomatoes. It will lower the botulism risk while also preventing oil spoilage.

Do sun-dried tomatoes in a bag go bad?

It all depends on the type of package you’ve got there. If it’s an unopened, commercially sealed bag, it should last for 1-2 years. But if it’s a resealable bag, the tomatoes will last for 6 months and 1 year if properly refrigerated.

Can you freeze homemade sun-dried tomatoes?

Yes, you can. In fact, this method is quite useful in keeping the tomatoes in good shape and taste for several years.

What is the shelf life of sundried tomatoes in olive oil?

If it’s homemade, you can make sun-dried tomatoes last up to 2 months with proper packaging. But if it’s commercially prepared, it should last 6-12 months in unopened condition.

How long can you keep homemade sun-dried tomatoes?

If refrigerated, these tomatoes can last up to 2 months. But if you use the dry storage method, you can make them last up to a year.

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