Dried Tomatoes (yields about 1 pint)

Wash carefully and wipe dry:

7 or 8 pounds of firm, ripe (preferably Roma) tomatoes.

Cut out the stem and scar and the hard portion of core lying under it.
Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise. If the tomato is more than about
2 inches long, cut it in quarters.

Scrape out all of the seeds that you can without removing the pulp.

Arrange the tomatoes, with the cut surface up, on non−stick cookie
sheets (glass or porcelin dishes are OK. They will have to withstand
temperatures of a few hundred degrees F if you are going to oven−dry
the tomatoes). Do *not* use aluminum foil, or bare aluminum cookie
sheets. The acid in the tomatoes will react with the metal.

Mix together thoroughly:

1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt.

Sprinkle a small amount of this mixture on each tomato.
(You may customize this mixture to suit your own taste.)

Dry the tomatoes in the oven, dehydrator, or in the sun. Directions
follow for each of these methods. However, no matter what method you
choose, be aware that not all of the tomatoes will dry at the same rate.
They do not all have the same amount of moisture, nor do they experience
the same temperature and air circulation while they are drying.

They are done when they are very dry, but still pliable − about the
texture of a dried apricot. If dried too long, they become tough and
leathery. If not dried long enough, they will mold and mildew, unless
packed in oil. So watch them carefully while they dry. Try to remove
them on an individual basis, before they become tough.

Here are the drying methods. There is a time listed with each method.
This time is approximate, and can vary significantly depending on the
moisture of the tomato. Do *not* rely on this time as more than a
rough guide.

Oven−drying (approximately 12 hours):

Bake, cut side up, in 170 F oven for about 3 hours. Leave the
oven door propped open about 3 inches to allow moisture to
escape. After 3 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat
with your hand or a spatula. Continue to dry, turning the
tomatoes every few hours, and gently pressing flatter and
flatter, until tomatoes are dry.

Dehydrator method (approximately 8 hours):

Place the tomatoes, cut side up, directly onto the dehydrator
trays. Set dehydrator temperature to about 140 F. After 4 or
5 hours, turn the tomatoes over and press flat with your hand
or a spatula. After a few hours, turn the tomatoes again and
flatten gently. Continue drying until done.

Sun−drying (approximately 3 days):

Dry in hot weather, with relatively low humidity.
Place tomatoes, cut side down, in shallow wood−framed trays
with nylon netting for the bottom of the trays. Cover trays
with protective netting (or cheesecloth). Place in direct sun,
raised from the ground on blocks or anything else that allows
air to circulate under the trays. Turn the tomatoes over after
about 1 1/2 days, to expose the cut side to the sun. Place the
trays in a sheltered spot after sundown, or if the weather
turns bad.

After the tomatoes are dry, store in air−tight containers, or pack
in oil.

To pack in oil:

Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off the
excess vinegar and pack them in olive oil. Make sure they are
completely immersed in the oil.

When the jar is full, cap it tightly and store at *cool* room
temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in
the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at refrigerator
temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature however).

As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary
to keep the remaining tomatoes covered.