If your garden is like mine, right now there are tomatoes everywhere. You can only do so much to make salsa, spaghetti sauce, and marinara. Smoke Dried Tomatoes are perfect when you have 6-10 (Roma are best) to put up quickly. This is all you need:
Roma tomatoes – Peeled or Unpeeled and slices 1/8 of an inch thick.
A dehydrator – any cheap one will do. Bought mine at a yard sale for $5.
An electric smoker.
Slice the tomatoes and place in the smoker with whatever kind of wood chips you want. I smoke mine for 2 hours. You can smoke them more, but they will have a very intense flavor of smoke and I cannot taste the tomato part anymore.
Take the tomatoes out of the smoker and place the slices in the dehydrator for however long the instructions require. My brown stackable dehydrator does not have a thermostat on it so I move trays top to bottom every hour or so for 10 – 12 hours.
Now you have some great smoke-dried tomatoes!
Tips for Enjoying Smoke-dried Tomatoes
Smoke-dried Tomatoes are intensely flavored bits of sunshine! Any recipe calling for “sun-dried” tomatoes will be extra special with Smoke-dried Tomatoes!
The tomatoes can be eaten out of hand, as a snack, or trail food, but be sure to save some to marinate in extra-virgin olive oil! The olive oil takes on the smoky tomato flavor and can be used to dress pasta, sauté vegetables, and in dressings (wonderful with spinach!). Simply submerge the tomatoes in enough olive oil to cover, in a jar, and let it set for a few days so that the oil can absorb the smoky, tomato flavor. If you run out of this delicious oil before you run out of tomatoes, simply add more oil to the jar.
For long-term storage (2 weeks or more), refrigerate the oil/tomatoes, as no preservatives have been used; olive oil can go rancid. The product can also be frozen for up to one year. Once cold, the oil will congeal, but it will liquefy again at room temperature. Store dry-pack Smoke-dried Tomatoes in the refrigerator, tightly sealed in a jar, to prevent dehydration.
To use Smoke-dried Tomatoes (S-dT’s): Re-hydrate in very hot water (or hot, but not smoking, olive oil) for a few minutes. Chop the tomatoes up into itty bitty pieces (or use a food processor) to conserve and distribute the flavors throughout a dish. Using the flavored oil will further extend the flavor.
Sauté Vegetables: Simmer chopped onions/garlic in a tad of the S-dT oil until softened. Add other vegetables (eggplant, squash, green beans,etc.) chopped, and simmer until they are softened. Add bits of S-dT’s, stir and simmer a few minutes more. Toss with hot pasta, rice, or spoon over spaghetti squash, or place on toast for an open-faced sandwich.
Greens: Sauté almost any variety of greens (chard, spinach, mustard, collards, etc) in S-dT olive oil, with garlic and mushrooms. Sprinkle with bits of S-dT’s and either crumbled feta or Parmesan cheese. Beans or Chile: Add two or three S-dT’s to the pot!
Bacon Substitute: Quiche — Add S-dT’s to any quiche recipe, especially to replace ham or bacon. Scrambled Eggs — gives vegetarians the bacon experience without the bacon! Carnivores will especially love, and indeed “wolf down” S-dT’s and eggs!
S-dT Pesto: In a food processor, whiz the S-dT’s with enough olive oil to make a puree. Add nuts and Parmesan or Romano cheese as desired. Basil, spinach, cilantro or sorrel leaves, in season, may be added.
Cheese Treats: Blend any soft cheese (chevre,cream) with minced pieces of S-dT and some of the oil. Or blend the cheese with the S-dT pesto. Stuff this mixture into deseeded jalapenos or spread on a cracker or piece of toast. Blend the mixture with hot pasta.
My friends clamor for them at Christmas and birthdays for presents. They are cheap to make and delicious to eat. Try some for yourself!