Learn exactly how to can tomatoes in this easy step-by-step guide!
Fresh tomatoes are one of life’s simplest pleasures. Unfortunately, if you’ve got several plants growing this summer, you likely won’t be able to eat all the amazing tomatoes you produce!
Instead of letting these waste away, consider canning your tomatoes. The canning process extends the life of the tomato, allowing you to enjoy amazing, homegrown tomatoes in the dead of winter!
Canned tomatoes are perfect to have around for hearty winter soups, chilis, and sauces. They stand up to heat better than fresh tomatoes and pack a ton of flavor!
Some store-bought canned tomatoes have added sugar, salt, and preservatives. We do use some salt in this process, but canning your tomatoes yourself ensures that you can know exactly what is in your food!
Here are the questions we’ll cover in this post:
- What kind of tomatoes can I can?
- What materials do I need to can tomatoes?
- How do I can tomatoes?
- How many pounds of tomatoes do you need for one canned quart?
- What are some recipes using canned tomatoes?
What kind of tomatoes can I can?
There are endless varieties of tomatoes. I personally grow several different varieties each year. You can preserve any of them with this canning method, however there are some that are better than others. For the best results seek thick, meaty tomatoes with less seeds or juice than other varieties.
For example, consider the make up of a Roma tomato verses a small cherry tomato. A Roma has much more “meat” so it makes a great canning tomato. For this post I am using a Cherokee Purple which is an heirloom tomato with amazing flavor. It is great in soups and chilis for cooler months.
What materials do I need to can tomatoes?
Canning is a fairly simple process, however it does require a few specific supplies. To can tomatoes you will need:
- Quart Jars with fitted lids: regular or wide mouth jars will work.
- Lemon Juice
Aside from these materials you will need a very large stock pot you can boil the quart jars in. You will also need a good knife, cutting board, bowls and ice.
There are a few other supplies that might make the process easier, such as tongs and a rack to lift the jars from the stockpot, however you can do this without those additional supplies if you don’t have them.
How do I can tomatoes?
- Prep the tomatoes by washing them so they are free of dirt. Prepare one large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and carefully place them in the boiling water for about one minute, using a large slotted spoon. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place immediately in the ice bath.
- After a few minutes when the tomatoes have cooled, peel the tomatoes (the skin should very easily slide off the tomato) and use a sharp knife to remove any bad spots, as well as the tough center. Quarter the peeled tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Add the quartered tomatoes to a large pot and bring the tomatoes to a simmer. Allow the tomatoes to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. (Look ahead to the next step to prepare the jars as the tomatoes cook.) Turn the heat off.
- Prepare the quart jars with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt in the bottom of each jar. Add the cooked tomatoes and liquid to the prepared jars. Be sure to leave head space of 1/2 inch at the top of the jar.
- Add the clean, sterile lids and rims to the jar and tighten.
- Bring the large stock pot to a boil and very carefully, using tongs, place the jars of sealed tomatoes in the pot of water. When the water comes to a boil, start your timer for 45 minutes. When the time is up remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cool undisturbed at room temperature.
How Many Pounds of Tomatoes per Quart?
A good rule of thumb is to have about 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes per quart. If you wanted to can a dozen quarts of tomatoes you would need at least 36 pounds of fresh tomatoes of your choice.
Tips for Canning Tomatoes
- Use meaty tomatoes such as roma, san marzano, or heirloom varieties.
- Wide mouth jars make the process easier, though regular mouth jars will also work.
- Prep ingredients and tools ahead of time for a smooth process.
- Invest in these tools to make the process easier and safer when dealing with hot liquids.
Recipes Using Canned Tomatoes
Luckily, there are a ton of recipes that are perfect for canned tomatoes! Here are some of my favorites:
- Collard Green & Black Eyed Pea Soup
- Easy Keto Chili
- One Pan Mexican Chicken & Rice
- Keto Cabbage and Beef Soup
- Cheesy Keto Taco Soup
- The Best Turkey Chili
- One Pan Cheesy Italian Pasta
Some recipes call for canned tomatoes with green chilis (also called Ro-Tel), but you can easily use your own home canned tomatoes instead. If you’d like to add more heat, add a can of green chilis, seasoning like chili powder or cayenne powder, or whatever pepper you prefer.