Canning oven dried tomatoes

shellyg(9)August 15, 2010

I'm having a really hard time finding specific information on this elsewhere, so I'm hoping some of the Master Canners here can help. Last year I oven dried a bunch of cherry tomatoes, but took them out before they were completely dry and brittle. These made for an amazing sun-dried tomato cream sauce! This year I'd love to do it again and can the results for longer storage. I have a pressure canner, so is there any safe way to can these tomatoes?

Everywhere I read about oven-drying tomatoes talks about storing them in oil for a few weeks, storing in the freezer, or drying completely and storing in airtight plastic bags. I can store some in the freezer, but have limited space there, and I think there's something about not drying the tomatoes completely that gets me a delicious flavor and texture.

Any help would be appreciated! (fyi, I also have a ph meter if it's helpful)

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Do I understand correctly that you want to dry them first and then can them? Since most items are either dried OR canned, if it were possible then you would be double-processing. Would the cost and time involved in doing that really justify the end result? Justskipping all the drying and canning them in the usual manner wouldn't be sufficient?

It is an unusual request and unfortunately AFAIK any dried items, except for herbs, must first be reconstituted before canning them. For example we often talk about how dried vegetables need to be reconstituted in vinegar before adding them to other recipes, dried beans are soaked and reconstituted before they can be safely canned, etc. So I think you would have to turn right around and reconstitute them to can them. Waste of time.

Drying methods vary greatly as you mention and 1/2 dried and frozen is my personal preference. But a large jar of them in oil stored in fridge lasts a very long time and the fully dried ones stored in one of the many inexpensive vacuum set-ups like the Ziplock system or even small Tupperware containers works exceptionally well and takes up little room.

Sorry I can't be of more help. Perhaps someone else will have additional suggestions.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:11PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Sorry, no. They need to be frozen. If you tried to can them you would have to add water or tomato juice and you would have them reconstituted.
When you don't dry thing fully, you need freeze them.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:18AM
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I'm ok with adding water or tomato juice to the jars. When I partially dry them, or perhaps I should just say that I am roasting them to provide less confusion, they take on a wonderful, concentrated, sweet explosion of flavor that is very different than if I simply canned them straight away. So I am trying to get them roasted down to this flavor, then can them. Does that make more sense?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 1:31PM
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david52 Zone 6

I do the same dried cherry tomato thing, but have the adequate freezer space so I store them that way.

But let me run this up the ol' flag pole. If you dry something acidic, it remains acidic, and pack them in a jar and add tomato juice or some other acidic liquid, and then follow the standard canning instructions for tomatoes, why wouldn't that work?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 1:47PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It would work but it will have the same results one gets when they try to can dried beans with out rehydrating them first - the food soaks up all the liquid in the jar, swells, causes boil over or leads to siphoning, and you end up with exposed food which then darkens during storage and only minimal liquid in the jar.

But IMO it is just double the work and expense for minimal return. The 'flavor' of the oven dried tomato is going to be diluted or even lost when rehydrated in the jars during processing. It will reabsorb the liquid you can it in and so make all the drying effort and time wasted. That is why they are normally stored in oil - they don't reabsorb it and so retain their dried taste.

As Grandma used to say "you can't have your cake and eat it too". In this case you can't have your oven dried tomatoes and can them too (because then they won't be oven-dried tomatoes any more).


    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 4:09PM
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mom2wildboys(RI zone6)

What about dehydrating and then sealing with a vacuum (Foodsaver)?

Would the vacuum prevent insect eggs from hatching, though?

Just wondering.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 8:43PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You're vacuum-sealing the moisture; it's mold or spoilage that's the issue. Partially dried tomatoes simply don't have the keeping qualities of fully dried ones. You'd risk wasting all your effort.

The best option is to prioritize your freezer space and make room for this delicious option. Boot out something less unique or that can be heat-processed.

Insect eggs aren't going to hatch in a vacuum.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 9:19PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I should clarify and correct. Perhaps they'll hatch but then they die due to the lack of air.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 9:39PM
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Is there no way to "can" them safely in oil?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:25AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Is there no way to "can" them safely in oil?

No. With the exception of a few tested recipes no oil is allowed in home canned foods as it coats the bacteria and prevents the processing heat from killing them.

But let's back up a minute - in one post you said "oven dried" and then later you said "oven roasting" them. Drying (dehydrating) and roasting are 2 very different processes with very different results and to a degree different rules apply.

Oven dried tomatoes are just plain tomatoes usually cut in half or quarters, spread in a single layer on a drying sheet and dried at a very low heat of 140-150 for 8-10 hours or more depending on size. When done they retain little to no juice, are stiff but still slightly flexible.

Roasted tomatoes are usually brushed with a bit of oil, spread out in a roasting pan and cooked at roasting temps of 250-350 for approximately 1-3 hours. When done they still retain much of their juice but develop a semi-charred appearance, especially the skins

So you really need to clarify exactly what you are doing with your tomatoes - step-by-step please including the amount of time in the oven and a description of what they look like when they come out of the oven.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 1:12PM
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Sorry for the confusion.

I am using the approach of "drying", i.e. low temp around 140, for 5-10 hours (depending on the size of the tomatoes), but not taking them all the way until they are dry and stiff. So they are shriveled quite a bit, but still soft and a little bit juicy. Ideally, I like to drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt before cooking them this way.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 1:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Thanks for the clarification. Unfortunately then all the limitations already discussed will apply to those.

About all I can suggest, and it is by no means an approved process nor do i think you'll be happy with the results, but try canning a pint jar or two of your dried ones in tomato juice and see if you are happy with the results.

You'll have to do 1/2 jar or less of the dried fruit and at least 1/2 the jar juice because they will absorb the water in the juice and swell. You'll have to add the bottled lemon juice or citric acid just as with canning regular tomatoes and then process them like the Tomatoes packed in juice for 85 mins. in BWB.

Repeat for clarity - not approved - just a suggestion to try. Your choice.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 1:36PM
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Thanks, Dave.

If I use a pressure canner, can I get away with not adding lemon juice/citric acid? (and a shorter processing time?)

And if I don't drizzle them with oil, does that make the situation better?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 2:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If you check out the recipe instructions for Tomatoes Canned in Tomato Juice you'll see that the lemon juice or citric acid is required even with pressure canning tomatoes. That doesn't change regardless of the canning method used. But yes, you can use the pressure canning time. Pressure is going to make them absorb more of the liquid tho.

Leave out the oil definitely. As discussed above oil is basically prohibited in canning.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 3:49PM
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