So, I headed over for the alternatives. The oven called out to me. Replicating the same stuff in my oven resonated my thoughts. But again, that meant couple of hours of drying in the oven too. Back while in college, my semester project work had seen me working on ‘Drying Characteristics of Garlic’ where I did a study on ‘Industrial analysis of Tray Drying and Microwave Drying methods’ using some scientific laws, exponential terms and thermodynamics, none of which I can recall now. That study however told us that up to 88-90% energy, power and time could be saved with microwave drying and that was interesting. Back then too, beyond all those calculations, I enjoyed peeling the cloves, chopping and inhaling the pungent aromas of the drying cloves, their analysis, textures and tastes. See, how I had a foodie blood running in me, that had me food associated with my project work too! As an engineering student, I was no way associated to home science, yet I managed to fit that in! :)
On the same lines, I went ahead and made a really small batch with just 3 tomatoes, just for trial, least I may not have to discard the whole lot in fits of a disaster. Glad I gave this a try. They may not be the best, not exactly the sun-kissed kinds, but pretty much close. You dunk them in the goodness of garlicky olive oil, herbs and spices and they just resonate the original stuff.
One of the mistakes I did probably was to chop them to fine rounds. They seeped out a lot of water and once dehydrated they thinned down a lot and got glued to the plate. Instead, I suggest you chop to halves and place them on the chopped side down. Microwave them one side for couple of minutes and then turn them around and microwave further till dehydrated. That way they will remain firm pieces, unlike mine that ended in strands. Nevertheless, for a trial they were good. These tart beauties are instant and can add that concentrated sweet sour flavor to your salads, pizza, dips or even breads and last long.
Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Off the Sun, in a microwave)
3 large tomatoes
A few pinches salt & pepper
Couple of pinches of oregano seasoning
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil (optional)
Wash and clean the tomatoes and chop them into halves. Scoop out the flesh using a slotted spoon and place them in a microwave proof flat dish, cut side down. Brush each cut piece with some olive oil and microwave on high for about 3-4 on one side. Flip the tomatoes over and microwave again for another 3-4 minutes. The tomatoes will leave out a lot of water. Take care and keep a keen eye so that they do not burn. Continue to microwave each side till the tomatoes wilt and become dry.
In a small pan, heat some olive oil and fry the garlic till they leave out flavors to the oil. Once they are brown, remove them from the oil and discard. Add in the oregano seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. In a bowl, place the dried tomato flakes and pour the garlicky olive oil. Season further if required. Use in dips, sauces, salads and pizzas as preferred.