I’m pretty new to the canning world, but it’s growing on me fast. I’ve been playing around with different jams, and there are a few things in the back of my head that I’m really interested in trying. It’s a whole new horizon of keeping great fresh food in our lives, and I’m a big fan.
If there was one item in particular that truly motivated me to learn canning, it would have to be tomatoes. They’re such a key ingredient in so many great recipes, and when you live in an area like mine where gardens are bountiful and farmer’s markets are bustling, they’re the stars of the show. It’s such a shame to let a single one go to waste, so canning is a really exciting concept as we look ahead to colder months.
So this was my first go at canning these red globes of summer wonder, and armed with my Food in Jars cookbook and a $10 box of tomatoes from the market, I got to it. So follow along, learn what you can, and let me know any tips you’ve come across to improve the process!
Canning Tomatoes Recipe
a bunch of tomatoes
lots of quart jars and lids for canning
a large pot for processing jars
bottled lemon juice
Wash your tomatoes, then core them and score an “x” on the bottom of each to help the skin peel easier.
Blanch the tomatoes briefly (1 minute or less) in a pot of boiling water, then remove them to a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking. The skin should be loosened and easy to peel off.
At this point, you can either leave your tomatoes whole or cut them into smaller pieces. I was working with medium-sized round tomatoes, so I quartered them in order to fit more into each jar. If you have romas or something smaller, feel free to use the whole tomatoes.
While you work on the tomatoes, get your water bath boiling with your first batch of jars. When it’s up to heat, empty the jars and set on a towel for processing. Heat your lids and bands in a wide shallow pan at a bare simmer to soften the sealant, and set aside as well.
Put a tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of each jar (to make sure the tomatoes are acidic enough) and fill each with enough tomatoes to fill almost to the top of the jar. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes until there’s about 1/2 inch of space left. Take a wooden (not metal) chopstick or something and slide it around the edge of the jar’s contents to shake loose any more air bubbles, and adjust your headspace with more water if needed.
Wipe the rims, place your lids, and screw on the bands until they’re barely fingertip tight. Lower carefully into your water bath and boil for 35 minutes.
Remove to a rack to cool, and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. If your jars have sealed, the tops will have indented and won’t flex when you push them down with a finger. One issue I had was that there ended up being a lot of air at the top of my jars. This isn’t a major issue; it’s not ideal, but it just comes from either air bubbles you didn’t remove or water siphoning out at the end of the processing. The food is safe to eat, it just might not stay as fresh as long, so it’s good to use those jars first.
Let me know if you have any questions!