Here is an article from our editor showing you more ways to use your toaster oven.
I plant a big backyard garden every year and I always try to use as much of the produce as possible. Part of that involves preserving things for use throughout the winter and following spring. I love looking at my dinner table in the middle of January and still seeing food from my garden. Here are a few ways I use my toaster oven to help.
Home Dried Herbs
I absolutely love fresh herbs and always grow tons of them. Basil, thyme, rosemary, chervil, oregano, savory and mint are some of my favorites. They, of course, taste best when they are fresh and just picked. But I do like to dry some of the extra herbs to use during the off-season.
First, heat your toaster oven to 200 degrees F. Then remove the leaves from clean, dry fresh herbs (no stems.) Spread the herbs evenly over a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Put the baking pan into the toaster oven and turn off the oven. Check them in 1 hour. The herbs should be completely dry and crumble at the touch. If not, heat the toaster oven back to 200 degrees F. Return the herbs, shut off the toaster oven and check in 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary. Store the dried herbs in an airtight container in a dark place.
Oven Dried Tomatoes
I love sun-dried tomatoes but they can be quite expensive. I make something similar in my toaster oven which I think actually tastes better, and certainly costs me a lot less. First, heat your toaster oven to 200 degrees F. Wash your tomatoes and cut them in half. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with a fair amount of good sea salt.
Bake the tomatoes for 3 hours. At the end, they should be a deep red color and about 1/4 of their original size. Put the tomatoes in a glass jar and top with extra virgin olive oil. Store in the refrigerator.
Dried Chile Peppers
I absolutely love cooking spicy food, so I grow lots of chile peppers every year. I usually dry about half of them (or more) for use throughout the winter and spring. This method will work for any type of chile pepper, although the time needed for drying will depend on the type of pepper used.
You'll need a toaster oven with a low temperature setting for this task, about 100 to 120 degrees F. Often this temperature is achieved through a "warm" setting. If your toaster oven doesn't go this low, you'll just end up cooking the peppers which won't preserve them at all. You may be able to get a lower temperature by leaving the door open; be sure to check with an inst-read thermometer.
Warm the toaster oven at the lowest possible setting. Wash the chile peppers and remove the stems. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put them in the toaster oven. Flip the peppers over every 30 minutes until they are completely dry. This will take anywhere from 1 to six hours depending on the size and moisture content of your peppers.
Store the cooled, dried peppers in an airtight container in a dark place. A word of warning: the natural oils in chile peppers can burn your skin and eyes. Wear gloves and don't touch your face when dealing with any spicy peppers.