Dried pickled tomatoes taste like the essence of summer: intense and sweet-tangy. Pickled with olive oil, garlic and herbs, they give pasta, bruschetta or grilled vegetables a unique flavour.
Sicily, the region where tomatoes are fragrant
From June to August, the streets of the Sicilian villages used to be coloured in red. On the pavement, on the windowsills, in the courtyards; tomatoes cut in half were placed on scannatura, wide wooden boards, everywhere. They dried under the hot sun and in the warm wind, and their strong fragrance filled the streets and alleys.
Nonna Maria's tomatoes
Only a few Sicilian families maintained the peasant tradition of drying tomatoes themselves. The nonne was usually responsible for this. Even nonna Maria, the grandmother of a friend of mine, whom I always used to visit in summer, took care of the tomatoes: sugo di pomodoro, which she cooked with a potato until it was really creamy (due to the potato starch), and, of course, the dried pickled tomatoes.
Taste takes time
For 100 g of dried tomatoes, you need 1kg of fresh tomatoes. And it takes seven days to dry the halved tomatoes in the sun and air. They were carried into the house overnight to protect them from any humidity. Nets kept hungry insects at bay. Grandma Maria always lightly salted her dried tomatoes. They tasted like summer by the sea.
Drying tomatoes yourself
Those who do not live in southern hot regions have to dry their tomatoes in the oven: place the halved tomatoes, skin side down, on a wire rack place. Dry for about 12 hours at 75° C (fan oven), and turn every 3 hours. Small cherry or cocktail tomatoes dry faster. If your oven does not have a drying function, the oven door must be left open to allow moisture to escape.
Dried tomatoes are either attached to string and stored in a cool and dry place or preserved in oil.
Dried, pickled tomatoes
- 100 g dried tomatoes
- olive oil , as desired
- 4 cloves garlic, fresh - amount according to taste
- 10 leaves basil, fresh - amount according to taste
- Put a layer of tomatoes in a clean jar (with a screw cap). This is then followed by a layer of garlic slices and basil leaves. Alternate layers of tomatoes and garlic/basil until the jar is full.
- Using a spoon, press the tomatoes down gently so that as little air as possible remains between the layers. Pour olive oil over the tomatoes and cover them completely.
- This prevents mould developing. Leave the tomatoes to soak in a cool, dark place for 15 days to a month. The longer you leave them, the more intensive they will taste.