How to safely preserve dried tomatoes in oil – at home!
You grow tomatoes. You eat tomatoes. You eat more tomatoes. You can tomatoes. You can tomato puree. You can tomato juice. You dehydrate tomatoes. You roast tomatoes. In desperation you even chop and freeze tomatoes (ok, maybe that’s just me).
But as a safe home canner, you probably have never canned dried tomatoes in oil. Maybe you have looked at this loss with sadness. After all, dried tomatoes packed in olive oil are delicious. And nothing beats a home grown tomato. So it just seems like we should be able to make our own.
Luckily, now we can. Of course, there are a few caveats. We still have to follow the “safe canning” rules. And we can’t make jars and jars of dried tomatoes in oil and leave them on the shelf to use years from now. Botulism still loves to thrive in an air-free environment, like a jar full of oil, so let’s do this safely!
Dehydrate your tomatoes following your usual method. If you live in an arid environment you might sun-dry tomatoes. I personally use my trusty inexpensive food dehydrator. Sean Timberlake, the Food Preservation expert over at About.com uses this method to dry tomatoes in the oven. All work equally well.
Once the tomatoes are leathery, dip them in lemon juice to increase the acid level.
Layer the tomatoes in a sterilized jar. Cover with a good quality oil. Olive oil is traditional. Yes, good quality olive oil is expensive but worth every penny. Don’t be tempted to use a lower quality oil with your high quality tomatoes!
DO NOT add other ingredients. You may be tempted to add herbs to the jar. Don’t. Following the above process should result in a safe product. Adding other ingredients negates that assumption.
Also DO NOT process in a water bath or any other kind of canner.
If you have followed these few easy steps, the dried tomatoes in oil are shelf stable at room temperature. However, you may want to store them in the refrigerator. Storing in the refrigerator adds another layer of safety, plus it helps keep the oil from going rancid. The oil will solidify in the fridge, so let the jar come to room temperature before using.
As you can see in the photo I used dried cherry tomatoes from my garden and a fantastic Cretan olive oil purchased on my Great Greek Adventure. Once all the tomatoes are gone, I will use the flavored oil for salad dressings or drizzling over homemade bread.
Fundamentals of Consumer Food Safety and Preservation: Master Handbook, (2015).