How to Can Tomatoes

Sep 18, 2011 by     4 Comments    Posted under: Cooking 101

Canning tomatoes at home is easy and fun to do.  It’s not difficult, but does take some time.  But is a great weekend or evening activity to do while watching old re-runs on TV.

I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while, because I think everyone should grow their own tomatoes when possible, and then eat them throughout the year.  Home grown and home canned tomatoes taste so much better than store bought, that it’s almost hard to believe they are the same fruit.  Why mass produced food stuff has completely lost it’s flavor, I will never know.  Do yourself, your family, your friends, and your marinara sauce a favor… can your own home grown and/or farmer’s market fresh tomatoes yourself at home.

The tomatoes I used in creating this post came out of my garden, just picked fresh today.  They are a combination of Early Girl and Black Krim tomatoes.

I’m going to list out the directions for canning at home, with the little time saving tricks my mother taught me, but I came across a how to video on Ball’s website that does a great job of explaining the required equipment, steps, and procedures.  Please watch it, then read the rest of my post:

Canning Tomatoes Step-By-Step Instructions

The following is taken primarily from the Ball Blue Book, Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration, with some of my own edits and time saving tricks my mother taught me mixed in.

  1. First off, make sure you read the recipe instructions you will be following, and assemble all of your equipment and ingredients before starting.  Sounds silly, but this will save you some aggravation (speaking from experience).  Make sure that you follow the guidelines for recipe preparation exactly, and that you do not make changes to the recommended guidelines.
  2. Visually examine canning jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage.  Examine canning lids to ensure they are free of scratches and sealing compound is even and complete.  Check bands for proper fit.
  3. Wash jars and two-piece caps in hot, soapy water.  Rinse well.  Dry bands; set aside.  Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering water (180°F).  DO NOT BOIL LIDS.  Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.
  4. Fill boiling-water canner half-full with hot water.  Elevate rack in canner.  Put canner lid in place.  Heat water just to a simmer (180°F).  Keep water hot until used for processing.
  5. Select fresh tomatoes at their peak of quality and flavor.  Use firm tomatoes free of cracks, spots and growths.  Prepare only enough for one canner load.  Wash tomatoes; drain.
  6. Cut an X into the bottom of tomatoes.  This makes removing the skin easier.
    Cut an X into the bottom of Tomatoes

    Cut an X into the bottom of Tomatoes

  7. Place tomatoes in wire basket and lower into a large saucepot of boiling water.  Blanch tomatoes 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to crack.  Remove from boiling water.  Dip immediately into cold water.
  8. Slip off skins; trim away any green areas; cut out core.
    Tomato Skins Easily Peel Off after Blanching Thanks to X Cut

    Tomato Skins Easily Peel Off after Blanching Thanks to X Cut

    Core Skinned Tomatoes

    Core Skinned Tomatoes

    Tomato Core Cone

    Tomato Core Cone

    Skinned and Cored Tomato

    Skinned and Cored Tomato

  9. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.  Place in canning jars.
  10. Remove canning jar from hot water with a jar lifter; set jar on towel.
  11. Carefully pack hot tomatoes into hot jar, pressing down with fingers to extract juice, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar, 1 tablespoon to each pint jar.  Add 1 teaspoon salt per quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint jar, if desired (um, ya….you’ll want to add the salt.  It makes them taste freaking amazing!).
    Press Hot Tomatoes into Canning Jar with Fingers, Pushing Free Juice

    Press Hot Tomatoes into Canning Jar with Fingers, Pushing Free Juice

    Repeat Until Canning Jar is Full of Tomatoes and Juice

    Repeat Until Canning Jar is Full of Tomatoes and Juice

    Add a Tablespoon Lemon Juice to Tomato Pint When Canning

    Add a Tablespoon Lemon Juice to Tomato Pint When Canning

    Add Half Teaspoon Salt to Tomato Pint When Canning

    Add Half Teaspoon Salt to Tomato Pint When Canning

  12. Run a nonmetallic spatula between tomatoes and jar; press back gently on tomatoes to release trapped air bubbles.  Repeat procedure 2 to 3 times around jar.
    Remove Air Bubbles with Plastic Spatula When Canning

    Remove Air Bubbles with Plastic Spatula When Canning

  13. Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.  Remove lid from hot water with tongs or magnetic lid wand.  Place lid on jar rim with sealing compound next to glass.  Screw band down evenly and firmly; just until resistance is met.
    Tomato Pints Ready to Place in Water Bath Canner

    Tomato Pints Ready to Place in Water Bath Canner

  14. As each jar is filled, set it onto the elevated rack in the boiling-water canner.  Water in canner should be kept at a simmer (180°F).  After all jars are filled and placed onto the rack, lower rack into canner.  Water level must cover the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches.  Add boiling water, if necessary.
  15. Put lid on canner.  Bring water to a boil.  Start counting processing time after water comes to a rolling boil.  Process pints 40 minutes, quarts 45 minutes, at a gentle but steady boil for altitudes at or below 1,000 feat above sea level.  For higher altitude areas, increase by 5 minutes if between 1,000 and 3,000 feet, 10 minutes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet.
    Cover Tomato Jars with 1 to 2 Inches Water and Boil to Process

    Cover Tomato Jars with 1 to 2 Inches Water and Boil to Process

  16. When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid.  Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1-2 inches apart, on a towel to cool.  Do not retighten bands.  Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.
    Home Canned Tomatoes

    Home Canned Tomatoes

  17. After jars have cooled, check lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid.  If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and try to lift the lid off with your fingertips.  If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off, the lid has a good vacuum seal.  Wipe off lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue.  Label.  Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.

Start Canning Your Tomatoes!

That’s it.  Nothing too scary or crazy.  Give it a try.  The flavor difference in your marinara sauce, soups, and stews is completely amazing!

 

The Bald Gourmet provides simple and easy cooking instructions, like today’s instruction on how to can tomatoes at home.

 

4 Comments + Add Comment

  • If the lid did not seal, can I try re-canning them or are the tomatoes bad?
    I f I cannot re-can them do you have any suggestions on what to do with the tomatoes.

    • Use them right away to make a sauce or something, otherwise you can freeze them.

  • That looks like Maldon sea salt you are adding to your tomatoes. Please say it is so. I have been asking if I could use it in my canning instead of canning & pickling salt and have not gotten any replies, yet.

    • Great question Pat. It is my understanding that you can use pretty much any salt when canning. Sodium Chloride is sodium chloride. However, table salt has added iodine, sugar, and anti-caking ingredients. These don’t really do anything harmful to the canned food, but the iodine can change the color of pickles and other things. Pickling/canning salt is just straight pure sodium chloride, so is the best to use for pickles. It is also finely grained so it dissolves quickly. I don’t think it really matters with tomatoes though. The salt I used in this post was Kosher Salt, which is a good salt to use because it has very minimal additives (none really except some brands can have an anti-caking agent). Here’s a good article on the subject: http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/faq/canning-and-pickling-salt

I love hearing from my readers, so please go ahead and leave a comment!


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I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.