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Canning tomatoes is one of the most foundational kitchen skills a gardener could learn. ‘Putting up’ the garden bounty ensures that there will be plenty of healthy, pesticide-free food on the shelf for use in sauces, salsas, and dishes throughout the rest of the year.
You may remember when I posted about freezing tomatoes for canning later in the year. Because of the 100+ temperatures, and the fact that we only use a swamp cooler in our main kitchen/living room area, I really did spend a lot of time packaging up tomatoes for the freezer. Both our indoor and outdoor freezers are chock-full of gallon bags of tomatoes, and now it’s time to pay the piper…er, can the tomatoes.
This post is going to assume that you understand the basics of water bath canning, but if you are doing this for the first time, or are not quite sure you have the basics down, you can refer to my post, “How to Can Food for Beginners”. It’s a fantastic article that takes you step-by-step through both canning processes. This time you will only need the information under the headings of Steps Before Processing, Water Bath Processing, and Steps After Processing.
Items Needed for Canning Tomatoes
tomatoes (7-10lbs will fill about 6 pint or 3 quart jars)
bottled lemon juice or citric acid
salt (optional, I like to use pink himalayan salt)
tools and equipment listed under “The Tools” section in this post
Steps to Canning Tomatoes
- Step 1: Fill up a stock pot about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Do step 2 while you are waiting for that to happen.
- Step 2: Remove all of the stems from tomatoes. Fill up a clean sink with water and dump all of your tomatoes in. Swish around and drain.
- Step 3: This step will need to be done in separate small loads. Add about a quart of tomatoes at a time to the boiling water and allow to blanch (boil in the water) for 30 seconds to one minute. While you are waiting for the first load to finish, put some ice in a big bowl and fill up with water. Set on the counter near the pot you are using for the tomatoes.
- Step 4: With a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place them into the ice water for a couple of minutes. This will stop the cooking process. Remove from the ice water and place in a bowl for later. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until all of the tomatoes have been blanched, cooled, and moved to the bowl for later.
- Step 5: With a knife or a tomato corer, remove the stem end and slip the skins off the tomatoes. You can use the scraps to make tomato powder later if you have a dehydrator. At this point, you can cut your tomatoes into halves or quarters, or leave them whole.
- Step 6: Begin filling a jar by adding 1/4 tsp citric acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for a pint jar, or 1/2 tsp citric acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for a quart jar. (Using bottled lemon juice will ensure the correct acid level every time.) Add 1/2 tsp salt to a pint jar or 1 tsp salt to a quart jar, if desired (for flavor only).
- Step 7: Pack raw tomatoes into the jar, pressing gently so the juices of the tomato fill in all the empty spaces between the tomatoes. Fill up to the top, leaving a 1/2-inch head space.
- Step 8: Remove air bubbles with a bubble remover, and clean the jar rim.
- Step 9: Center the lid onto the clean jar rim and screw on the band only fingertip-tight. Repeat steps 6-9 until all jars are filled.
- Step 10: Place jars into the simmering water in your canner. Water must cover jars by at least 1 inch.
- Step 11: Adjust heat to medium/high and cover the canner. Wait until the water boils.
- Step 12: Once water is boiling, set your timer for 1 hour and 25 minutes (same for pint or quart jars).
- Step 13: Once processing time is finished, turn off the heat and uncover the canner. Allow canner to sit for 5 minutes, then remove jars with the jar lifter to a towel on your counter. Allow to cool for 12 hours. Test seals, label, and store jars.