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Oven Dried Tomatoes & Peppers Recipe

Guest Author - Jessica Carson

If your tomatoes or peppers are producing more than you can use fresh, or you want to save some of your wonderful harvest for use during the winter and spring, then here is a great tip: dry your tomatoes and peppers in the oven! It is much faster than sun-drying, and keeps your tomatoes and peppers cleaner and free of mold.

Ideally, you want to be able to set your oven to somewhere between 150 and 200 degrees F. Most ovens will allow you to do this; you can check with an oven thermometer if you aren't sure. If your oven will not regulate that low, then keep the front door cracked open, or you can manually turn the oven off and on to keep it from getting too hot.

You will also need a drying rack. Small-holed baking racks (cooling racks) will work; I use some wire-screen office letter trays that I picked up at a thrift store. You want to ensure air circulation while keeping the cut fruits from sliding through the holes.

A good, meaty tomato, like a Roma, makes an excellent dried tomato, though you can dry any type. Any type of pepper can be dried, also, though the larger, fleshy types are easier to work with.

Oven Dried Tomatoes
Sort your tomatoes by size – you will want to put similarly sized tomatoes all on the same rack so they dry in roughly the same amount of time.

Preheat your oven to between 150 and 200 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each tomato. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise (from stem end to tip) and lay on your drying racks, cut side up, and spaced so they are not touching each other. If you wish, sprinkle lightly with salt. You may also sprinkle with an herb mixture – rubbed sage and ground rosemary is an especially tasty combination for dried tomatoes.

Place your filled racks in the oven. Bake until the tomatoes feel dry and leathery, about 6 to 12 hours depending on the size and moisture level of the tomatoes. Do not over dry; the tomatoes should never become brittle. If some tomatoes dry before others, remove them and place on racks to cool.

Allow your dried tomatoes to cool thoroughly on cooling racks. Store in sealed plastic bags, plastic containers, or jars in your cupboard. Properly dried and stored, your tomatoes will keep well into your next-year's harvest!

Oven Dried Peppers
Sort your peppers by size, shape and thickness – you will want to put similarly sized pepper sections all on the same rack so they dry in roughly the same amount of time.

Preheat your oven to between 150 and 200 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each pepper. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise (from stem end to tip) and remove seeds and ribs. (Note, much of the 'hot' is contained in the ribs and seeds – you can dry these separately, grind, and save for a wonderful hot sprinkle). Slice into smaller sections, if desired. Alternatively, cut the peppers into rings and remove seeds and ribs. Lay the pepper sections on your drying racks, cut side up, and spaced so they are not touching each other. If you wish, sprinkle lightly with salt.

Place your filled racks in the oven. Bake until the peppers feel dry and leathery, about 8 to 10 hours depending on the size and moisture level of the peppers. If the peppers are thick-fleshed, you may need to turn them over once or twice throughout the drying process. Do not over dry; the peppers should never become brittle. If some peppers dry before others, remove them and place on racks to cool.

Once dried, allow your peppers to cool thoroughly on cooling racks. Store in sealed plastic bags, plastic containers, or jars in your cupboard. Properly dried and stored, your peppers will keep well into your next-year's harvest!

Uses for Dried Tomatoes and Peppers
Dried tomatoes and peppers, besides being used in your favorite recipes, also make wonderful flavored oils and vinegars. Place some dried peppers or tomatoes (or some of both) loosely in a sealable jar. I like the tall, thin type with a ceramic and rubber clamp stoppers. You can also add a sprig of dried rosemary or other whole-leaf dried herbs – make it pretty and flavorful. Fill the bottle with a high-quality olive oil, walnut oil, macademia oil, or balsamic or wine vinegar, and seal. Store in your cupboard for several weeks, until the flavors infuse through the oil or vinegar.

Sun dried tomatoes and peppers are also a great addition to bread. Add cut sections to your dough during the last kneading and bake as usual. (Note: Use good kitchen scissors to easily cut dried tomatoes and peppers)

Dried tomatoes and peppers make an excellent garnish for fish, stews, roasts, salads, soups, vegetables – almost any main or side dish! If desired, reconstitute by soaking in hot water for a few minutes before using.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Jessica Carson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jessica Carson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lestie Mulholland for details.

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