Canning/ Homesteading

How to Can Tomatoes

September 30, 2019 (Last Updated: September 14, 2020)

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Have  you ever wondered how to can tomatoes? This post gives you all the information you need to know with step by step directions for how to preserve your homegrown tomatoes. 

A canning jar filed with chopped tomatoes.

The past few weekends have been busy with canning tomatoes and making oven roasted tomatoes. We ended up with a great tomato crop this year and were able to put up a lot of canned tomatoes to last us through the winter months. Friday night we had to pick the final tomatoes. An ultra early snow storm hit us this weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever seen snow here in September before! We might be in for a long winter. It’s a good thing I have my pantry filled with delicious canned goods.

Fresh tomatoes on a white board.

What type of tomatoes do I use?

You can use any variety of tomatoes. We grow a lot of different varieties and we use them all. I do avoid using our cherry tomatoes because you do need to peel these tomatoes and peeling cherry tomatoes is too time consuming. They are best just popping in your mouth!

How many tomatoes do I need?

The size of your tomatoes will vary. I used 2-3 tomatoes for each quart jar. I can process up to 10 quart jars at a time. There have been times that I have canned just a few jars of tomatoes. The process is the same for a small batch as it is for a large batch. 

How do I can tomatoes?

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few tomatoes at a time Fresh tomatoes in a pot of boiling water.
  2. Remove tomatoes and add to ice water Fresh tomatoes in an ice water bath.
  3. Peel skins and chop tomatoes into large chunks. Remove stem.  The size you cut your tomatoes is up to you. You could also leave tomatoes whole, as long as they fit into your canning jars. Peeled and chopped tomatoes.
  4. Add lemon juice or citric acid to each canning jar. Add tomatoes Chopped tomatoes in a quart sized canning jar.
  5. Boil another pot of water. Add boiling water to each jar. Slide a plastic knife around the inside of the jar to help remove trapped bubbles. You can also bang jars gently on surface of counter to help remove bubbles.
  6. Wipe top of jars with a clean, wet cloth Canning jar top being wiped with a white cloth.
  7. Put lid on top of jar and screw on band A canning lid being placed on top of a jar.
  8. Place jar in a large pot half filled with water. When all jars are in pot, add enough water so jars are covered by 1 inch of water. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Jars n a pot filled with water. Turn heat down so the pot maintains a boil and boil for 45 minutes for quarts and 40 minutes for pint sized jars. Adjust boil time to your elevation
  9. After full processing time, remove jars from pot and place on a baking rack. Let jars cool for 12 hours. Test each lid to to make certain each jar has sealed. 
  10. Remove bands and wash outside of jars in warm soapy water. Dry jars and label each jar with contents and date.
  11. Store in a cool dark place. A pantry filled with canned goods.

What equipment do I need?

Frequently asked questions

  • Why do I need to use lemon juice or citric acid? The acidity level of tomatoes varies. In order to can foods safely with a hot water bath they need to be at a certain acidity level. The lemon juice or citric acid ensures the acidity level is correct. There is no noticeable taste when adding either one.
  • Do I add salt? Adding salt is optional. I do not add salt to my jars. I’d rather add salt to whatever final dish I’m making. If you choose to add salt, add 1/4 teaspoon to each quart jar. 
  • Why do I have to adjust processing time based on where I live? Processing times vary because boiling time varies depending on your elevation. 
  • Should I use a wide-mouth or regular sized canning jar? This is up to you depending on what jars you have available and what size tomatoes you want to can. If you are wanting to can whole tomatoes, you will want to use wide-mouth jars. 
  • Why do you wash the outside of the jars after canning? During the canning process, some of the liquid from the jars is often forced out of the jar. The jars will have a bit of the residue on the jars and can be sticky. Washing the jars before storing helps keep the jars from growing any bacteria on the outside of the jar. 
  • How do I know if my canned tomatoes are safe to eat? I always store my canning jars without the canning bands. If the contents have gone bad, the canning lid will often become unsealed. You can spot this easily when the jar does not have a band. If the contents become cloudy, bubbly or develop an off smell, discard all contents and do not eat. 
  • How long will canned tomatoes last? Canned tomatoes are safe to eat for many years. However, the quality of the tomatoes are best eaten within one year of canning. Always check each jar when opening to make certain there isn’t an off odor or any mold or bubbling of the tomatoes before eating. 

 

Chopped tomatoes in a glass jar.

Canning Tips

  • Always wash and sterilize your jars before using. I wash my jars in my dishwasher before using, which sterilizes my jars.
  • Wash canning lids in warm soapy water. Place lids in a dish with plain hot water before using. You do not need to boil your lids before using.
  • Examine jars for any defects, especially along rim. Do not use for canning if you find any chips or cracks.
  • Use good quality tomatoes. Do not use if rotting or moldy. 
  • Always adjust processing times for your elevation.

How do I use canned tomatoes?

You can use these canned tomatoes in any recipe calling for diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, you may need to first drain the tomatoes. I’ve used these tomatoes in my chicken pasta bake,  enchilada soup, and in my shredded chicken recipe

Other canning recipes

Don’t forget to PIN for later! A quart sized canning jar filled with chopped tomatoes.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @beyondthechickencoop

Check out all my homesteading posts here!

A canning jar filed with chopped tomatoes.

How to Can Tomatoes

Kathy
Step by Step Directions on how to can tomatoes
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course canning
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Quarts
Calories 42 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 pounds tomatoes (per quart)
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (per quart)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (per quart, optional)

Instructions
 

  • Blanch and peel tomatoes
  • Chop tomatoes into desired size
  • Add lemon juice or citric acid to each canning jar
  • Add chopped tomatoes
  • Pour boiling water over tomatoes. Remove air bubbles by running a plastic knife around inside of jar and tapping bottom jar gently against counter.
  • Wipe rim of jars clean and add lid and band
  • Place jar in a water bath canning pot half filled with warm water. Add additional water level covers the top of the jars by 1-2 inches.
  • Cover pot and bring to a roiling boil. Once boiling, lower temperature so there is a gentle but steady boil. Boil quarts for 45 minutes and pints for 40 minutes. (Adjust time for altitude - see chart in post)
  • Remove jars from canner and place on a towel or a baking rack to cool. Do not touch jars or tighten lids until at least 12 hours.
  • After jars have cooled, check lids for a proper seal by pressing on the center of each lid. The lids should not have any give in the center. Remove bands wipe down jars to remove any residue. Label and store in a cool, dark place.

Notes

  • Can use 1/2 teaspoon citric acid in place of the lemon juice
  • If using pint jars add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid
  • Adjust recipe based on amount of tomatoes you have available and on the size of your canning pot. 

Canning Tips

  • Always wash and sterilize your jars before using. I wash my jars in my dishwasher before using, which sterilizes my jars.
  • Wash canning lids in warm soapy water. Place lids in a dish with plain hot water before using. You do not need to boil your lids before using.
  • Examine jars for any defects, especially along rim. Do not use for canning if you find any chips or cracks.
  • Use good quality tomatoes. Do not use if rotting or moldy. 
  • Always adjust processing times for your elevation.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 42kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 157mgPotassium: 538mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1889IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mg
Keyword canning tomatoes, how to can tomatoes, preserving tomatoes
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

 

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Curly
    September 10, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    5 stars
    We had lots of tomatoes this year so it was everything from chili sauce, marinara sauce, sundried tomatoes, canned bruschetta topping, toss whole tomatoes (skins on) in ziploc bags in the freezer, and of course these canned tomatoes…we call them stewed tomatoes. The only thing I added were 2-3 fresh basil leaves. My husband makes an awesome tomato base for mussels using these tomatoes. Great for those cozy winter nights!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 10, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      It sounds like you’ve got quite a crop of tomatoes! So nice to have on hand. We also like to freeze the tomatoes whole with the skins on. They just slide right off when you run them under warm water and then pop the frozen tomato in a pot of chili or soup! Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  • Reply
    Marcelyn Oliver
    June 16, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    Kathy you sound like me. I was raised on a farm and live in the country once again. I love gardening, cooking and raising animals also. I live in a small rural community in Texas. Trying to remember if my mom added water to her tomatoes when she canned them. I haven’t canned in a while. She never added lemon juice either but I understand the reasoning now. I believe I can just can the fruit in their own juice. I’m anxious to try your other recipes too. Your canned goods look awesome. Can’t wait to canning again. Glad to have found a new country friend!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      June 17, 2020 at 6:26 am

      Marcelyn,
      Good for you for getting back to your roots! There’s nothing better than growing, preserving and eating your own produce. I haven’t tried canning tomatoes just with their own juice, but I’d love to know your method. Let me know how they turn out. Welcome to Beyond the Chicken Coop!
      Kathy

  • Reply
    Valentina
    October 2, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh, is that your cabinet full of beautiful canned goods? I’m SO impressed and it’s so beautiful. This is a great post to keep on hand as a resource. Sometimes my dad’s garden produces many more pounds of tomatoes than he can handle. 🙂 ~Valentina

    • Reply
      Kathy
      October 5, 2019 at 6:28 am

      That is my cabinet. It’s a closet we have in our basement that we store most of our canned goods. We canned quite a bit, but we have some empty jars in there too! 🙂

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    October 1, 2019 at 7:30 am

    5 stars
    I have yet to can tomatoes, but I do use store-bought canned tomatoes on the regular! Love all your tips here, Kathy! You’ve totally inspired me to bottle up some of my own to last all winter long!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      October 5, 2019 at 6:33 am

      These work great in any recipe calling for canned tomatoes! I hope you give them a try.

  • Reply
    Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes
    October 1, 2019 at 6:45 am

    5 stars
    So lovely to have these on hand, I am sure!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      October 2, 2019 at 5:53 am

      We use them in so many different recipes!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      October 5, 2019 at 6:37 am

      It is great to just grab what you need from our pantry.

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    October 1, 2019 at 4:38 am

    5 stars
    Every year, I say that I’m going to get into canning…and then I don’t. This year, we only had a token garden, so we didn’t end up with boatloads of produce like normal. (Well, except for jalapenos…and that’s only because one jalapeno goes a long way!) This is an excellent how-to guide, though, Kathy. Totally hanging onto this in case we plant a legit garden next year!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      October 2, 2019 at 5:55 am

      There’s nothing wrong with having a small garden! The best part is harvesting and enjoying all your work!

  • Reply
    Judy G
    September 30, 2019 at 7:41 am

    5 stars
    Thanks for the lesson Kathy. Must be very satisfying to have all those canned goods ready for the winter.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 30, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      I love having a fully stocked pantry!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 30, 2019 at 7:11 am

    5 stars
    Won’t these perfect when the snow starts flying….oh wait – they’re perfect for you now!! Sorry – couldn’t resist! 😉 (WOW!) Nothing better than canned tomatoes, my friend!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 30, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Yep, nothing like an early snow to make everyone a little frantic! I’m not ready for winter, although my pantry is stocked!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    September 30, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Great idea for a post Kathy! I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never canned tomatoes. I have friends that do it every season though. I need to get on the ball!

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