If you’ve had a successful garden crop season, you may be harvesting more produce than you can consume! A great way to prevent that food from going to waste is by storing it away for the fall and winter months. Tomatoes are one of those in-season fruits that can easily be preserved. If you are wondering how to store tomatoes, the answer is by canning fresh tomatoes. I want to clarify that even though I am using the term “canning”, I am really referring to how to preserve tomatoes in jars. I spent my summers growing up in the country in Kentucky and everyone had root cellars packed with garden goods preserved in jars.
Canning Fresh Tomatoes
Choose which method you want to use for canning fresh tomatoes. Some people prefer to can whole tomatoes, halved tomatoes, or diced tomatoes. It really depends on the size of your tomatoes. Most beefsteak tomatoes will need to be diced, just to fit in the jar! Personally, I like canning diced tomatoes and they are easy use for a variety of recipes down the road. Having canned tomatoes readily available can help add flavor to any dish at a moment’s notice. To stock up on your own canned tomatoes, follow the simple directions below to preserve your tomatoes in jars.
How To Preserve Tomatoes in Jars
- 6 (1-pint) canning jars with lids
- Dishwasher or large stockpot
- 2 large pots
- Bowl of ice
- 12-pounds whole tomatoes of your choice
- Slotted ladle
- Dicing knife
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Wooden spoon
- Canning rack
- Cooling rack
Steps do involve boiling so use kitchen safety precautions to prevent burning.
Load your jars and lids into your dishwasher and run them through a clean and heat cycle or simmer them in your large stockpot.
Fill one, large pot with water. Bring to boil. Prepare your bowl of ice.
Remove the skin of the tomatoes by gently lowering them into the large pot of boiling water. Be careful not to splash the hot water. Let the tomatoes sit for a minute before removing them with a slotted ladle and placing them into your bowl of ice – this will help crack the skin. Let the empty pot of water continue to boil. Once tomatoes are warm (not burning hot!), peel the skin off each tomato and dice.
Place your diced tomatoes into the clean, warmed canning jars and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint-size jar. The lemon juice helps preserve the color and flavor of the tomatoes while maintaining the acidity needed to store tomatoes.
Remove the pot of boiling water from the stove and, using a ladle, carefully fill the jars with the remaining boiling water, leaving a ¼-inch space at the top of the jar. Leaving some space at the top of the jars will allow for food expansion and secure a tight seal on the jar.
Free air bubbles by sliding the handle of a wooden spoon into the jar and gently pressing the tomatoes against the side of the jar.
Screw the lids tightly onto the jars ensuring a good seal. Fill another large pot with enough water to cover 1-inch over the jar lids. Bring water to a boil.
To preserve tomatoes, place the canned jars into a canning rack and lower into the pot of boiling water. Boil jars for 40 minutes. Turn heat off and leave jars in water for 5 minutes.
Lift jars out of the water with the canning rack and allow to cool on rack for 12 hours.
Prior to storing, touch the center of the lid. If the lid does not move, it can safely be stored. However, if the lid does move it means the seal did not take. In this case, the jar should not be stored but refrigerated for immediate use instead.
Label jars with contents and date. Jars should not be stored for more than one year.
So there you have- how to can with tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are not only a great way to stock your pantry for the winter, but they also make great holiday gifts! For what purposed do you use canned tomatoes?