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I used some canned tomatoes to make chili, which normally works fine, but today it has a really strong metallic flavor. From what I can tell, this is just because they're probably low-quality, so I won't be using this brand again.

Anyway, is there anything I can do to save this chili? I didn't notice the flavor until I added everything else.

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Agree to Walter, the metallic taste told you something and you should throw it out. I'd try to avoid eating canned things at all. You can boil fresh tomatoes instead, couldn't you? – Tomas Oct 18 '11 at 10:21

8 Answers 8

the strong metallic taste is telling you something. This something is don't eat me. I suggest you listen. No, seriously, if it tastes like metal it is probably because some of the can material leached into the tomatoes. Although it might not hurt you, I still would not eat it.

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A bit unscientific, but I tend to agree. Listen to your gut, failing that, your nose! – mahalie Oct 20 '11 at 18:05

Metallic taste is due to the tannins in the tomato pomace and skins. A pinch of baking soda will alleviate the problem.

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Interesting! Can you link to a source? – Jolenealaska Sep 6 '14 at 21:51
Been making marinara sauce with canned tomatoes for years - first time I used a tiny bit if baking soda so it would be quick. Amazed - it is perfect. Thanks for the tip! – Sue Oct 2 at 22:23
Too much baking soda, though, will likely cause a metallic taste :) – rackandboneman Nov 23 at 9:52

I've tried the baking soda and ruined the entire dish.. I would not suggest that.. I find a bit of brown sugar. and extra spices,, and cooking it like mad will reduce it.. I wont buy canned again as using fresh is the only answer here.. but those of us with cans in the pantry still want to use them up somehow..

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The sugar and spices suggestion does sound reasonable. But I wouldn't say this means you should never buy canned - it just means you've probably found a brand to avoid. I've never had any problems with metallic tastes from cans. – Jefromi Oct 27 '14 at 17:10
Fresh tomatoes will likely be even more acidic since they are rarely as ripe as good quality canned brands. Given that you want acidity in most tomato based dishes, but want it in a balance, sugar (balances) will be better than soda (neutralizes). Watch Alton Brown's episode on tomato sauces and marvel at the boatload of sugar he adds! Btw, if something is BITTER in a dish - and some bitter tastes might be described as "metallic" ... the other "metallics" are alkaline (baking soda will make it worse), or actual metal (use a magnet idk) - SALT is what you want. – rackandboneman Nov 23 at 10:00

A little bit of baking soda will offset the pH of the tomatoes. Check out the relative pH of baking soda versus tomatoes and it should give you an idea of how much to use. Salt may also work. But in my experience, to get canned tomatoes tasting nice, you need to reduce them like crazy to break down the pectins and get the original flavor.

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So the metallic taste is due to acid? – belisarius has settled Oct 17 '11 at 23:41
I think most people here are well aware of the acidity of tomatoes, but I don't see how that's relevant to this particular issue. – Aaronut Oct 18 '11 at 0:11
I am quite sure that this is not the issue. A metal is alkalic in itself. Metal taste is actually created when a metal reacts with more complex organic molecules, but no acid is involved at any point. – rumtscho Oct 18 '11 at 18:42

I was making green chili, I used oregano, onions, garlic, cumin, pork, fresh jalapeno, salt and pepper. I decided to add a little tomato puree (Hunts brand) and that is when the problem appeared, the metallic taste. I added sugar which did not solve the issue, I then added some chili powder which didn't change the taste. I really don't want to toss it. Maybe I will try a little vinegar. Thanks for all the tips.

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While this is not a direct answer telling us what to do, I think it does contain valuable information for the readers: the answerer tried two more or less obvious ideas and they did not work. So I think we can leave it undeleted as a partial answer. – rumtscho Mar 25 at 10:37

I agree with the "don't eat" answers.

But if you still want to save your chili and eat it, you can add some sugar, and cook for at least 20 mins more.

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If you are using tomato paste, you absolutely have to let it cook for about 3-5 minutes before or for forever after you add the liquid. Tomato paste will, no matter how fresh, have a tinny/metallic taste to it. You have to cook that taste out before you add broth, tomato sauce, or water to it. At least that is what Rachel Ray says.

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Generally accepted lore with tomato paste is that cooking it for about a minute will remove the sharpness. I have no experience of metallic taste myself. Making such bold claims without backing them up will earn peoploe downvotes around here. – Richard ten Brink Jun 25 at 7:02
Thanks for the answer, but I was asking about (whole) canned tomatoes, not tomato paste. I think the tomato paste flavor is something different than this metallic taste. – Brendan Long Jun 25 at 7:13
If anything, the version of that piece of lore that I am aware of is that you should not just cook, but fry the tomato paste with the aromatics. – rackandboneman Nov 23 at 9:54

I got that "tinney" taste from a pasta sauce that came out of a glass JAR! Usually a pinch of sugar does the trick but not today. After reading some of the above suggestions i decided on a pinch or two of baking soda and it worked like magic. Delicioso!!!

BTW: if canned tomato sauce tastes "tinney" it doesn't mean its gone bad. Canned food has been known to last over a hundred years.

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Canned food has been known to turn bad, too. That canned food can last long, does not mean that a specific can cannot turn bad. Also, this answer does not provide anything new, baking soda was already suggested. – Lars Friedrich Oct 31 at 12:15

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