There’s nothing better than the taste of canned tomatoes during the long winter months. Whether their grown in your garden or purchased at a market during peak tomato seasons, they are easy to can at home in a variety of ways. The information below provides steps on how to safely can tomatoes for long-term preservation
First, an explanation about what a tomato really is. While they are generally found in the vegetable section of markets, all varieties of tomatoes are actually fruits because they contain seeds and have high acidity levels. Because of their acidity, tomatoes can be safely canned using either a pressure cooker or a water bath container. Regardless of the method you use, the following instructions should be followed closely for safe preservation.
Always use firm, fresh, disease-free, vine-ripened tomatoes for canning. Do not use tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines. Green tomatoes can be safely canned due to their higher acidity levels, but only if they have been harvested directly from a vine. Always wash tomatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt or sand before preparing for the canning jars.
Whether you are canning tomatoes whole, crushed or juiced it is important to ensure safe acidity levels. This can be accomplished by adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. If desired, you can add sugar to offset the acid taste.
Canning Whole or Halved Tomatoes -
Tomatoes can be slightly cooked or raw when placed into jars and covered with either water or tomato juice. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 60 seconds or until skins begin to slit, then dip them in cold water. Peel off skins and remove cores. Leave whole or halve them. For slightly cooked tomatoes, cover them with water and boil gently for 5 minutes. Fill warmed jars with the cooked or peeled raw tomatoes and cover with the cooking liquid used for boiling for the slightly cooked tomatoes, hot water for the raw tomatoes or heated tomato juice leaving at least a ½ head space at the top. Regardless of the liquid used, always acidify per the above instructions. If desired, 1 teaspoon of salt can be added to each quart. Remove all air bubbles, wipe top rims of jars before tightly securing lids and begin processing.
Canning Crushed Tomatoes -
Place tomatoes in boiling water for 60 seconds or until skins begin to slit, then dip them in cold water. Peel off skins and remove cores. Quarter tomatoes and place about one-sixth of the quarters in a large pot for quick heating, crushing them as you add them to the pot to squeeze out juices. Continue heating while stirring constantly to prevent burning. Once the tomatoes are boiling, add the remaining quarters, leaving them uncrushed, and stir constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture has been gently boiling for about 5 minutes. Acidify the mixture per above instructions. Pour the crushed tomatoes into warm jars, leaving at least a ½ head space at the top. Remove all air bubbles, wipe top rims of jars before tightly securing lids and begin processing.
Canning Tomato Juice -
Wash, remove stems, trim off bruised portions of tomatoes and quickly cut about 1 pound into quarters and place into a heated pan, crushing them while bringing to a boil. This will prevent the juice from separating. Slowly add and crush the remaining quarters into the pot, making sure the mixture continually boils. After all pieces are added, continue simmering for about 5 minutes. Press the tomatoes through a sieve or food mill to remove all skins, seeds and pith while capturing the juice. Acidify the juice per above instructions. Pour the hot juice into warm jars, leaving at least a ½ head space at the top. Remove all air bubbles, wipe top rims of jars before tightly securing lids and begin processing.