Sundried Tomatoes

Toward the end of the san marzano tomato season, right about now, I have lots of cases of canned crushed tomato and spicy tomato sauce, but there are still more tomatoes coming in. Soon the vines will come out, and the green tomatoes will go into chutney, but the last 30 pounds of tomatoes I dry.

Sundried tomatoes went out of style after being over-used (nearly to death) in the late 80s and 90s. Now some sad version of them still lurks in the corners of your local grocery store, but they area usually hard as leather, and dark in color, a far cry from freshly made dried tomatoes. The key is to dry them just enough, rather than to dry them until they are completely dessicated.


I use the smaller tomatoes and cut them in half, or the larger and cut them into thirds. They I pick a few stalks of the overgrown basil so that the plants will start new, tender growth.


There are still lots of tasty leaves if you are willing to pick them off.


To six pounds of sliced tomatoes, I added 1/2 oz. of basil chiffonade, 1 t. of kosher salt, 1/2 t. of black pepper, and 1 1/2 oz. of EVOO.


Then I tossed everything together to coat evenly.


I bought the cheapest dehydrator available on Amazon that had high ratings. It has six trays and holds about 6 pounds of sliced tomatoes. It takes about 24 hours to get the tomatoes where I like them, and I rotate the order about half way through, bottom to the top, etc.


It is also important to check each layer as you get toward the end of the cycle. Some sliced will dry out an hour or two before others, depending on thickness. I store them in a zip-lock bag, and keep them in the refrigerator. They will last most all winter like that.

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David Gingrass is a food and beverage operations professional with a career spanning more than three decades. His fascination with and love for food, wine and entertaining allows him to view his work as both a vocation and an avocation. Gingrass graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York then cooked in the Bay Area for two years before landing a job at Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood. There he learned to make the signature breads and sausages that he became known for at Postrio and Hawthorne Lane. He was soon promoted to kitchen manager and managed the operational and expense control aspects of Puck’s iconic restaurant for the next four years. Gingrass returned to San Francisco in 1989 when Puck tapped him and his then-wife Anne to open Postrio, Puck’s third restaurant and his first outside of Los Angeles. Postrio opened to rave reviews and soon became the #1 popular Bay Area restaurant in the prestigious Zagat survey. Five and a half years later, the opportunity to open a restaurant of his own presented itself. Hawthorne Lane opened in 1995 and was a San Francisco dining institution for over twelve years, catering to the likes of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Mayor Willie Brown, James Carville, President Clinton and First Lady Hilary Clinton. He closed Hawthorne Lane at the end of its fifteen-year lease in 2009 to build a consulting practice for the hospitality industry, sharing his wealth of culinary and operational experiences with new and existing restaurants, assisting them to become successful and profitable.