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The Best Way to Rehydrate Sun-Dried Tomatoes

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2016

When buying sun-dried tomatoes, we typically purchase the oil-packed kind, since the dry-packed variety have tougher skins and a chewier texture. But dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes do have their advantages.

When buying sun-dried tomatoes, we typically purchase the oil-packed kind, since the dry-packed variety have tougher skins and a chewier texture. But dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes do have their advantages: They can cost just one-third of the price of oil-packed, and they don't have herbs or seasonings that may not suit your recipe. Some sources suggest that you can approximate oil-packed tomatoes by soaking the dry-packed variety in olive oil overnight, but we found that the tomatoes were still too tough.

Rehydrating is best, but with what liquid? We tried using plain water or wine, but the former left the tomatoes waterlogged and diluted their flavor, and the latter overpowered the tomatoes' natural acidity. We had better luck with broth (vegetable or chicken, depending on your recipe), which infuses them with a complementary savory flavor and an appealing saltiness. Alternately, you could soak them in salt water. Here's our preferred method (which you can scale as needed):

Place 1/2 cup tomatoes in heatproof bowl, cover with 1 cup broth or 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 cup warm water, then cover with plate and microwave for 2 minutes. Let sit until skin side of tomato can be pierced easily with fork, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and blot well with paper towels. Leftovers can be topped with oil and refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

REHYDRATE: In heat proof bowl, cover sun-dried tomatoes with liquid and microwave, covered, for 2 minutes.

DRAIN AND BLOT: Let tomatoes sit in liquid until skins can be easily pierced with fork, then drain and blot dry.