Canned Tomatoes

Compared to last year’s meek tomato harvest, this year is insane.  I brought in 34 tomatoes tonight alone – so you can imagine how backed up we are getting on ‘maters!  Luckily most of these guys are Romas, which I specifically planted for canning purposes.  This was my first shot at canning tomatoes (pre-sauce, anyway), and it was remarkably simple.  You really can preserve any kind of tomato, though the “meatier” kinds definitely hold up best.  Next time, maybe some of my heartier heirlooms.


  • About 5-7lb of tomatoes (best if juuust ripe, or a bit before ripening…really bursting is best saved for your salads)
  • Lemon juice (1 TB for pint jars, 2 TB for quart)

Sterilize your jars – I just run mine through the hot cycle in the dishwasher since we don’t have a sterilizing cycle.  Also put your lids and rings in a small pan and bring to an almost-boil – leave them that way until ready to put lids on.

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil – this is the water to fill your jars (you can also use tomato juice if you like).

Meanwhile, blanch and peel your tomatoes.  If this is a new method for you, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some tomatoes – no more than 5 or 6 small ones at a time.  Let boil for about 1 minute, then remove to an ice bath – the skins should slide right off once cool!  You don’t want to can your tomatoes with the skins on – they will make sauces tough.  Also chop off any bruised or hard parts of the tomatoes.

I found about 5 tomatoes to a pint jar, so you can guess about 10 to a quart.  You can leave them whole (but you’ll only fit about 3 in a pint in that case), or you can halve or quarter them to fit more into each jar (I halved mine).  Wipe the threads and top of each jar clean.

Add lemon juice to each jar according to size of jar, and then top off with the boiling water – leave about half an inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Run a plastic knife or spoon very carefully around the edge to remove air bubbles.  Gently add the lids and rings and screw them on until they’re secure, but not TOO tight.

I use a boiling water bath canning method.  Cover the jars with about 1-2″ of water and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 35-40 minutes for pint jars and 45-50 minutes for quart jars.  You will probably want to let them cool overnight once you remove them from the water.

You’ll know they have sealed in the AM if you press down on the lids and they don’t bounce back.  It is normal for the tomatoes to rise to the top of the jar as in my photo – I could have packed more in there, but was being careful.

They should be shelf stable for about one year.


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