All fruits and vegetables taste better straight from the garden or fresh from the farmer’s market. This is truer for tomatoes than any other produce. When it comes to flavor, tomatoes are my pick. Canning tomatoes at the peak of ripeness is a delicious way to preserve that flavor and enjoy it throughout the rest of the year.
I usually can my tomatoes in ½- to 1-inch chunks with their own juice. This makes them a perfect addition to soups, stews, and other dishes. You can also can them whole or pureed. I leave the seeds in them, but you can remove them, if you like.
New to canning? Before you begin, you might want to read Preparing Jars and Lids for Canning and Getting Ready to Can.
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Canning Tomatoes Using the Raw/Cold Pack Method:
Recipe Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Sauce pan of boiling water for scalding
Medium bowl of ice water
Air bubble remover/headspace tool or spatula
Prepared canning jars and two-piece lids
Clean, damp cloth
Water bath canner with metal rack
Cooling rack or dry towel
Select tomatoes that are fresh, ripe, and blemish free. Wash your tomatoes to remove any dirt or debris. Peel your tomatoes by scalding them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then submersing them in icy cold water. Slit the top with a paring knife (if they haven’t split on their own) and use your fingers or a knife to remove the peel.
Cut out the hard core and cut your tomatoes to the size you desire. Ladle tomatoes into prepared canning jars to ½ inch of the rim of the jar. Use an air bubble remover/headspace tool or non-metallic spatula slid down into the sides of the jar to remove air bubbles. Re-fill the jar to ½-inch headspace, if needed. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon of salt per quart, if desired.
Wipe the rim of your jar with a clean, damp cloth. Food particles caught between the rim of the jar and the lid can cause your jars not to seal.
Place your lids onto your jars, making sure the rubber seal meets the jar rim. Screw on the metal band firmly (fingertip tight). Note: Screwing them on too tight may cause them to not seal or to buckle.
Use a jar lifter to place your tomatoes in the metal canner rack in a boiling water bath. Place the lid on the canner. Bring water to a boil. Process your tomatoes in the boiling water bath for the times shown below (times for 1,000 feet above sea level):
Pints- 35 minutes Quarts- 45 minutes for higher acid red tomatoes
Pints- 45 minutes Quarts- 55 minutes for lower acid yellow or orange tomatoes
When the time is complete turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and allow to cool for five minutes. Remove your tomatoes from the canner using the jar lifter and place them on a cooling rack or dry kitchen towel two inches apart. Some of the bands may seem loose at this point, do not re-tighten them.
After 12 hours, check to see if the jars have sealed, the center of the lid should be concaved and not able to flex. Remove the metal bands/rings; carefully try to pull the lid off with your finger tips to check the seal again. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use as soon as possible or reprocess starting over with new jars and lids.
Allow sealed jars to cool for 24 hours. Wash the jars and label them with contents and date. Store canned tomatoes in a cool, dry place away from light.
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