I’m back at it with home canning! I absolutely love having home-canned tomatoes on hand. I pick up a 25 lb. box at our local farmstand, spend an evening canning them because it’s just too darn hot to do that during nap time, and enjoy them all winter long. They’re delicious made into marinara sauce or salsa, crushed over pizza, or added to just about any dish for a hint of summer when the only tomatoes you can get are a suspicious shade of pink at the grocery store.
Last summer I was pregnant with Easton and not in the mood to do a lot of canning in the summer, and unfortunately decided not to do a batch of canned tomatoes. Let me tell you, I regretted it all winter. This summer, I’m not making that mistake again! If I have the energy I may even do a second batch, but 25 lbs. gave me 21 jars and I’m not sure where I can fit another 21! I use Roma tomatoes for canning, but San Marzano will also work well. Tomatoes with a high water content and variable acidity such as heirloom tomatoes may not can well. I highly recommend getting locally-grown tomatoes from a farmstand or farmer’s market. To maximize the flavor of the canned tomatoes, you want to make sure you are using fresh, delicious, vine-ripened tomatoes.
If this is your first time home canning, check out my garlic dill pickles post for an introduction to home canning, information on the tools you need, and other notes to be aware of before you start.
Canning tomatoes required few ingredients and just a bit of time. All you need in addition to the jars, bands, lids, and canning equipment are tomatoes, boiling water, and citric acid, which can be purchased wherever canning supplies are sold. Tomatoes do take a little longer than other home-canned items since the processing time is 40 minutes and you need to peel the tomatoes first. I canned 25 lbs. of tomatoes in just under 4 hours after my kids went to bed.
Let’s get started!
First, you need to sterilize your jars, bands, and lids. You can run them through the dishwasher and let them sit in the heated dry setting until you’re ready to use them, or wash them in hot soapy water and then boil them. I prefer the dishwasher method because my stove is filled with pots for processing and boiling water to remove the skins of the tomatoes, but if you’re lucky enough to have a 6 burner stove you can probably fit another pot for sterilizing jars!
While the jars are sterilizing, you can also peel the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and core the tomatoes. Gently place the tomatoes in the water and boil for 1-2 minutes until skins start to loosen or crack. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place in an ice water bath. Once cool enough to handle, you should be able to peel the skins off easily.
When your tomatoes are peeled and your jars are sterilized, remove the still-hot jars from the boiling water or the dishwasher. Add 1/2 tsp. of citric acid to each jar and pack with tomatoes (Note: I get all my acidity ratios, processing times, and headspace requirements from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving). I press them down a little bit, but you don’t want to crush them completely. Fill with boiling water, allowing 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a butter knife or chopstick, loosen the tomatoes slightly to remove any air bubbles. Simply place the knife/chopstick between the jar and the tomatoes and rotate around the circumference of the jar, moving up and down as you do so.
Place jars in a hot water bath, ensuring they are completely covered with water and bring to a boil. Process pint jars for 40 minutes and quart jars for 45 minutes.
Remove jars from hot water bath and set aside to allow to cool for 24 hours prior to checking the seals. Sealed jars will keep up to a year stored in a cool, dark place.
And that’s it! While the processing time is a bit longer than pickles or jam, I think you will find that the extra time will be well worth it when you can crack open a jar of summery tomatoes on a cold winter day.
What other canning recipes do you want to see? Let me know!
- Whole tomatoes (Roma or San Marzano)
- Boiling water
- Citric Acid
- Wash and sterilize jars, bands, and lids. Keep hot until ready to fill.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and put tomatoes in for 1-2 minutes, until you see the peel begin to peel or crack.
- To each jar, add ½ tsp. citric acid and then fill with tomatoes. Top with boiling water, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Using a chopstick or butter knife, remove bubbles from jars.
- Place in a hot water back and process 40 minutes for pints, 45 minutes for quarts.
- Remove and allow to cool for 24 hours before storing in a cool, dry place. Sealed jars will last up to one year.