Tomatoes are a great vegetable to can and it is so easy to do with the water bath canning method. Now that your homegrown tomatoes are ripening, don’t let them go to waste – preserve them whole, halved, crushed, or juiced. Watch our video, How to Can Tomatoes at Home, to see how Tricia cans tomato halves.
Canning Whole or Halved Tomatoes
This method is very easy with little preparation of the fruit. There are two ways to do this, either a hot pack or a raw pack.
Wash the tomatoes, dip in boiling water for 1 minute or until the skin splits, then place in a big bowl of ice water. Transfer to another large bowl and remove the skins and the stem scar. Save any tomato juice left in the bottom of the bowl. From here you can choose either the hot pack or raw pack method.
Hot Pack – placed the skinned whole or halved tomatoes in a pot and add enough water or juice (saved from the previous step) to just cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Add either lemon juice (2 Tbs/quart or 1 Tbs/pint) or citric acid (1/2 tsp/quart or 1/4 tsp/pint) to each hot jar. Add hot tomatoes to hot jars and pack down, removing any air pockets. Fill the jar to about 1/2” from the top with the hot liquid. Place lids and rings on jars and process in a hot water bath canner.
Raw Pack – Add either lemon juice (2 Tbs/quart or 1 Tbs/pint) or citric acid (1/2 tsp/quart or 1/4 tsp/pint) to each hot jar. Add skinned tomatoes to hot jars, making sure to pack down to remove air bubbles. Fill the jar to about 1/2” from the top with the hot liquid saved from the first step. Place lids and rings on jars and process in a hot water bath canner.
Canning Crushed Tomatoes
Remove the skins as described above and add about half to a pot and crush with a potato masher. Bring the tomatoes to a boil, and add the remaining tomatoes. If you want a chunky sauce, don’t crush the last of the tomatoes.
Or you could use a sauce maker, like the Weston Sauce Maker, run the tomatoes through it with a large screen to remove the skins (so you can skip the skinning step of the process).
Gently boil the crushed tomatoes for about 5 minutes. Add either lemon juice (2 Tbs/quart or 1 Tbs/pint) or citric acid (1/2 tsp/quart or 1/4 tsp/pint) to each hot jar. Add tomatoes to jars and fill to about 1/2” of the top, place lids and rings on jars and process in a hot water bath canner.
Canning Tomato Juice
If you want to mix it up a bit with your tomatoes, can some tomato juice or go wild, and can some tomato juice cocktail (see the recipe)! Follow the above steps to remove the skins. If you have a sauce maker, like the Weston Sauce Maker, run the tomatoes through it with a smaller screen to remove the seeds and skins (so you can skip the first step of the process).
Heat the juice to simmering. Add either the lemon juice or citric acid (same amount as previously stated) to the hot jars and fill with hot juice to about 1/2” from top of the jar. Clean the rims and add the lid and ring. Process in a hot water bath canner. Note: you can add salt if you would like, 1 tsp/quart or 1/2 tsp/pint.
Water Bath Canning Times
Water bath canning is a very simple method of preserving but make sure you are using the proper equipment. Jars should be free of any cracks or chips along the top. Don’t try and save money and use old mayonnaise jars, they are not made for repeated heating; they may break in the canner. Lids and rings should be free of any rust. Don’t reuse a lid that has been previously used for canning, they may not seal properly. When putting on the rings, don’t over tighten. Finger tight is good and allows the lids to vent correctly during processing.
You don’t need a special pot to process the jars, but the water bath canner is a great size to allow for the jars and the 1-2” of water to cover the jars.
You should always process your tomatoes to the suggested times, and start your time once the water starts to boil. If you live at high altitudes, extra time should be added to the processing time. If you live at 1001 to 3000 feet, add 5 minutes; 3001 to 6000 feet, add 10 minutes; and above 6000 feet, add 15 minutes to your processing time.
After processing in the hot water bath, remove the jars and let them cool on the kitchen counter. Check the seals after the jars have cooled down (can do it the next day). Take the ring off and lift the jar by the lid. If the seal easily breaks, then you should refrigerate and use the product right away. If the seal is good, it is safe to store in the pantry.