Preserving tomatoes – drying for profit

Drying your tomatoes allows you to store them for up to a year. It is a clever way to add value to your harvest at a relatively low cost.

Fleshy tomatoes with the least amount of juice works best for drying tomatoes. Long, egg shaped tomatoes are the ideal choice.

The recipes were translated and adapted from Lekker vir later PLUS, written by Annette Human and published by Human and Rousseau, and the website

Click on the following links for more recipes on preserving and purees.

Drying in the oven

  • Cut some firm, ripe tomatoes diagonally into halves and scoop out all the seed.
    Place the tomatoes, skin side down, on a greased oven plate.
  • Sprinkle some vegetable oil over the tomatoes and flavour lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the pieces.
  • Dry the tomatoes for half an hour at 100 ºC and then at 70 ºC until it looks dried up and wrinkly, but still soft. Turn the tomatoes occasionally. Near the end of the drying process, flatten the tomatoes with an egg lifter.
  • Allow to cool.


Sprinkle white vinegar over the tomatoes and allow to dry, before storing in an airtight container. Make sure none of the tomatoes touch any metal.

These tomatoes can be stored for up to a year in a cool, dark space.

If you want to sell your sundried tomatoes, weigh and package in small, sealed containers, ready for the market.

The dried tomatoes can be stored in a jar filled with vegetable oil which covers the tomatoes by 2cm. For different flavour variations, add seasoning like a peeled garlic clove, a few peppercorns or fresh herbs like a sprig of rosemary or bay leaf.

Using the tomatoes

The tomatoes can be used in their dried form or can be soaked in water, stock or wine. Let it soak for up to two hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Fleshy tomatoes that are longer and with an egg shape are ideal for drying.
Fleshy tomatoes that are longer and with an egg shape are ideal for drying.

Sun-dried tomatoes

This method is a bit more risky, and your product is susceptible to the weather and environmental elements like rain, insects or dust. It is also more time consuming than the oven-dried version.

Drying your tomatoes in the sun can take a few days. You must protect it from dust, birds, flies and midges, and bring the product inside overnight.

  • Peel* the tomatoes. Halve diagonally, or cut in thick slices.
  • Pack the halves or slices in a single layer on greased baking trays. Cover with clear plastic.
  • Sun-dry the tomatoes until there is no moisture in the fleshy parts of the tomatoes and it is turning darker and looking slightly caramelized.
  • Turn the pieces occasionally during the drying process.
  • Store the tomatoes in an airtight container in a cool dark place.

How to peel tomatoes

  • Wash the tomatoes to get rid of any pesticide residue.
  • Use a sharp knife and cut a small cross at the blossom of each tomato.
  • Dip the tomato in a bowl filled with boiling water and count to 20, or when you see the tomato skin starting to pull away at the incision. Use a ladle or strainer to remove the tomatoes, but remember the water is still very hot.
  • If the tomatoes remain in the hot water for too long, your tomatoes might become soft.
  • Peel the tomatoes gently.

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