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Old 01-24-2007, 02:04 PM   #1
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Sundried tomatoes: best to buy in oil or dry?

As opposed to many of you, the most common form of sundried tomatoes where I live is packed in flavored oil in a small jar (by the way, are sundried tomatoes in the US mostly imported from Italy?).

However, even though I've never seen them packed that way here, I'm sure it would not be hard to come by a big plastic bag of unreconstituted sundried tomatoes.

A few questions though:

- Are the dried (unreconstituted) kind more economical?
- Do they taste better... or worse?
- How long, and how well do they last in the dried form?
- What is the best way to store them?
- How do you reconstitute them (water, oil, something else?)

Anyone here made their own sundried tomatoes?

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Alex R.

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Old 01-24-2007, 02:47 PM   #2
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I dry my own. Just slice and sprinkle with what ever spices I'm in the mood for and a little drizzle of olive oil. Bake in a low temp oven until donr. Then I freeze until I'm ready to use them.
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Old 01-24-2007, 02:50 PM   #3
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I've had a bag of dried sundried tomatoes in my pantry for well over a year, & they still reconstitute & flavor things just fine. My dried tomatoes are double plastic bagged, both ziplocked & plastic clipped.

I reconstitute them in hot tap water, which I change several times to keep the water as hot as possible. Depending on the age of the tomatoes, they can reconstitute in 15-30 minutes or 1-2 hours. It's hard to tell. Keeping the water hot does help to reduce the time.

But I do think it depends on the recipe. Some recipes seem to do better with the oil-packed - mostly faster cooking recipes - others seem to come out better with hot-water reconstituted tomatoes - particularly soups, stews, & long-cooking pasta sauces.

That's just been my experience. Others may have had different results.
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Old 01-25-2007, 06:06 AM   #4
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Like PDswife I dry my own and freeze. The pan that is used to roast them gets a bit of the caramelization from the tomatoes plus the runoff of herbs and oil, so I "de-glaze" it with just a little water and put that in the container to freeze. Very tasty.
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Old 01-25-2007, 09:56 AM   #5
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My favorite sundried tomatoes are the ones that are still a little moist similar to raisins. I'm not a big fan of the completely dry ones or the ones in oil. They have a a deep red color and very intense flavor and there is no need to rehydrate. Just chop and add them to whatever dish your making.


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Old 01-25-2007, 10:01 AM   #6
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Agree with JDP also. And if you do this to cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes and add them to a salad, you have little tomato "raisins" that add a huge burst of flavor!
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:35 PM   #7
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I've bought some in big plastic bags, and I also do my own. If I want to put them in oil, then I do it myself - oil, roasted garlic, oregano, peppercorns, a little chili pepper and real, live 100% olive oil. The tomatoes get soaked in boiling water for about 30 minutes - this also helps to remove some of the salt.
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Old 01-26-2007, 04:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliveb
I've bought some in big plastic bags, and I also do my own. If I want to put them in oil, then I do it myself - oil, roasted garlic, oregano, peppercorns, a little chili pepper and real, live 100% olive oil. The tomatoes get soaked in boiling water for about 30 minutes - this also helps to remove some of the salt.
Salt? Different kind of dried tomatoes than I have seen in the US. But we do have some in small plastic bags--but just dried, not salted.
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Old 01-26-2007, 05:14 AM   #9
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If you dry them in an oven, maybe the salt is unnecessary. However, if you dry them in the sun ( we're sub-tropical down here, so the sun is really hot) you have to use salt or the tomatoes will damage.
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:57 AM   #10
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Oh, I see. I would have to guess that most of the tomatoes we get sold to us are NOT sun dried, even though that is what they are called. I don't think it makes economic sense, but I could be very wrong, particularly about a boutique style producer.
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candocook
Oh, I see. I would have to guess that most of the tomatoes we get sold to us are NOT sun dried, even though that is what they are called. I don't think it makes economic sense, but I could be very wrong, particularly about a boutique style producer.
I believe the word sun in sun dried is more of a marketing term and the tomatoes we get are mainly put through some large commercial drier.

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Old 01-26-2007, 10:28 AM   #12
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Exactly. Commercial "sundried" tomatoes are not actually dried by the sun. It is definitely a marketing term. In addition, it's actually a good thing, because drying things in the sun - even with the utmost attention to screening - has a large possibility of insect & bird infiltration, as well as bacterial/fungi problems, especially in humid areas.

Same thing with raisins. Remember the older "Sunmaid" raisin boxes with the woman carrying the tray of raisins with the sun blazing behind her? Made everyone think those raisins were dried in trays under the California sun. Hello? Don't think so - lol!!!!!
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:31 AM   #13
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Maybe it's like the term 'free-range chicken' where all you have to do is give the chickens access to an open area for 5 minutes a day to call them free-range.

Maybe if you dry the tomatos in a dehydrator on a sunny day, they can be called sundried...
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:48 AM   #14
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I buy a good quality imported Italian sun-dried tomato and reconstitute when, how and as needed. I'm not a big fan of the ones you can get already in the oil... I like to take out all the seeds and remove all the skins after I've soaked them and before I put them in the oil with whatever flavorings I've chosen.
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