canning tomatoes 6

canning tomatoes

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

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.

canning tomatoes

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.

canning tomatoes

canning tomatoes

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.

canning 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.

canning tomatoes

canning tomatoes

canning tomatoes

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.

canning tomatoes

canning tomatoes

canning tomatoes

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. 

canning tomatoes

canning tomatoes

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!

canning tomatoes

6 thoughts on “canning tomatoes

  1. Reply Becky Aug 10, 2012 10:11 am

    I boil my jars for 10 minutes before I pack them – I like to ensure everything is as sterile as can be. To get rid of bubbles, slide the chopstick up and down the entire jar, not just the edges, to get rid of the bubbles at the bottom. I tend to pack my tomatoes in their own juice and dice them, because I want to be able to open that jar this winter and just dump it into whatever pot it’s going into. It takes more work in August, but makes me so incredibly happy in January.

  2. Reply GG from Quieting Life Aug 10, 2012 10:35 am

    I don’t bother boiling the jars for sterilization. I just wash them, let them drain, and then stand them upright on a baking sheet in a 225° oven for at least 20 minutes. Much less fuss, especially when you’re doing a LOT of canning (which I do – had a small jam business for a few years).

    The truth is, I’m not that fussy about the upfront sterilizing – my funnels, spoons, ladles, and tongs, just get a good washing. As long as the food you’re putting into the jars is prepared correctly, it would be hard to introduce pathogens via your equipment that wouldn’t be killed in the final processing. I’ve been canning for 25 years and have never had a jar go bad on me (nor have I killed anyone with botulism).

    • Reply Becky Aug 10, 2012 1:08 pm

      I’ve only been canning for 12 years and still get nervous, although I’ve not had anything go bad because it wasn’t sterile enough. One of these days I might get over my nervous nellies about it.

  3. Reply Kathleen Aug 10, 2012 4:07 pm

    we have a lot of cherry tomatos this year so i am going to try dehydrating them. I have been told there easy to rehydrate or you can just toss them into soups or whatevers cooking. I dont want those little guys to go to waste and i cant imagine peeling them.

  4. Reply Lyn Aug 13, 2012 10:34 am

    My favorite thing to can, too! There’s nothing like opening a jar of these August tomatoes in January!

    A few thoughts (I teach canning here in Atlanta): if you leave 1 inch headspace, you’ll probably have more luck with the jars sealing. That’s because the jars are in the water-bath canning for so long at boiling temp that a lot of the liquid reaches the tops of the jars and actually boils over the edges, eventually preventing the seal. More headspace helps this (though doesn’t stop it entirely).

    Also, an extra nutritional tip: put the cores and skins in the boiling water that you’ve just used for blanching – then use this extra-nutritional water (using a slotted spoon to capture just the water) for filling your jars.

    Finally, I do about 40 quarts each summer – and, yes, use up everyone before the next season. A sliced canned tomato on a veggie pizza in the winter tastes just like the real thing – another reason I need a lot of canned tomatoes! Lyn, PreservingNow.com

    • Reply Todd Aug 14, 2012 9:20 am

      Great advice Lyn! I have a lot to learn, but it’s great to be over the hump of just getting some stuff canned. I agree that a big appeal for me is the chance to keep summer tomatoes that I got a chance to meet around for the winter, rather than generic factory cans that are a little more boring.

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