Posted by: Rachel | August 14, 2012

harness that sun! (part 2)

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you may remember my post last summer about drying fruit in my car. If not, well, it’s that time again and this year I am car-drying tomatoes*.

It may sound nuts, but its cheaper (and a lot more pleasant) that running my oven! We get almost unbroken sun this time of year here, and my car gets no shade in the driveway, so it makes sense to me. Normally I put sunshades in my dash so that I can actually touch the steering wheel if I need to go somewhere, but for the next day or two I’ll manage!

It couldn’t be simpler. I did buy the tomatoes, as my poor tomato plants are crispy shells at this point, but otherwise this cost me nothing other than a sheet of parchment paper.

I used cherry tomatoes, and tried this two ways, cut-side up and cut-side down. I know now that cut-side up is the way to go. Its worth taking the time to arrange the cut tomatoes nicely; they really do dry faster that way.

It is this simple: Just halve the cherry tomatoes, lay cut-side up on a parchment paper-lined (or clean newsprint would work fine) cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet on the dashboard in full sun and close the windows all but a tiny crack, both to keep bugs out and to let any moisture escape.

cut tomatoes on a cookie sheet

now for some sun!

My car’s inside temperature holds at just about 130F in full sun with the windows just barely cracked open.

oven thermometer on dash reads 130F


Of course the “inside temp” dropped a bit when I opened the car door to get this picture.

I didn’t put anything on the tomatoes. No oil, no spices, no salt, nothing. I think, though, that I’m going to try different “flavors”. I’m pretty sure that a bit of dried crumbled oregano or thyme and some black pepper would be amazing.

about half-way dried after one day

day 2 – getting there…

In the “day 2” picture you can tell the “cup-side up” halves are drying much faster than the “cut-side down” halves. Makes sense, but I had to be sure.

I can tell you two things. One, your car will smell wonderful, and two, this takes almost no effort. I think these will need all of today and perhaps part of tomorrow to finish drying, so about 2-3 days will do if you get sun like we do here in my part of Texas. I didn’t even bother to bring them in at night, just rolled the windows up tight and that was it!

Caveat: I am not recommending that you use your vehicle as a dehydrator. I haven’t gotten sick from eating anything dried this way, but, well… Also, that cookie sheet will be HOT! Be careful moving it if you need to actually drive somewhere, and do move it so you don’t end up with a lap-full of hot cookie sheet and semi-dried tomatoes!

*Many thanks to “Chaiselongue” for reminding me that I meant to do this! 🙂



  1. Yes, we do this too! At the moment we have the car out in full sun (rather than in the garage keeping cool) and it’s full of tomatoes, apricots and apricot leather. Why not harness the sun when it’s there – and you’re right, it does make the car smell nice!

  2. Very neat idea – I was going to say cool! In our part of France we don’t have Texas temperatures but I find I can sun dry tomatoes in the garden. A couple of days in a hot spell, like this coming weekend does it. I love the taste of home dried tomatoes.

  3. When I lived in Knoxville, friends and I dried food this way all the time. We called ourselves the back window women. 🙂

    • I love it! Or maybe “rear window”? What sorts of things (besides tomatoes) did you dry? I’m thinking apple slices… maybe stone fruit?

  4. […] know about this, we’re already done jujube dates and cherry tomatoes. This year, though, since our daytime temperatures are pretty consistently in the low hundreds […]

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