Monday, October 10, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

When a recipe calls for canned tomatoes, usually I run to the grocery store and pay $1-$2 for a can.  Last fall I got the idea in my head that I had to can my own tomatoes.  I just needed to understand what it took to really get a can of tomatoes myself.  I feel like it's easy to forget that not so long ago people had to can tomatoes to survive!  So I went for it.  Ian and I drove out to the farm I get my CSA from to pick up our 1/2 bushel of tomatoes.  When we got home from our very long road trip I went for it because it was bothering me that they were just sitting in their box, unloved.

Now you may be saying to yourself, "Kelly, this isn't a box... it's a basket."  Ah, so.  After I canned the first 1/2 bushel, I went to my local farmers market and saw a sale for canning tomatoes... so I sprinted to the stand and bought another 1/2 bushel.  It's a sickness, really.  Once you start canning, it's impossible to stop.

So this is what happens:  I will tell you, but just so you know, I don't have pictures of the process because there was way too much steam and tomato goo involved and I was very nervous... there were tomatoes everywhere.  First, prepare your jars.  You can use quart jars or pint jars.  I used quart jars because it's the same size as a pasta sauce jar.  Put the empty jars without lids into the canning pot and fill the water two thirds of the way up the sides of the jars.  Bring the pot to a simmer and turn off the heat.  Put the lids (not the screw cap) into a tiny pot of water and bring it to a simmer as well, not a boil!  Wash the screw caps with soap and water and put them on a dish towel.

Prepare the tomatoes: cut an "X" slit into the bottom of every tomato.  Boil a large pot of water.  When the water is boiling, throw several tomatoes in at a time and allow to simmer for 30 seconds to a minute.  Take out and shock it by immediately putting into a bowl of ice water.  This will allow the skins to slip off easily.  Remove all the skins and trim the tomatoes if there are bad spots.  I cut all of mine in half or in quarters so they'd be easier to manage when I want to cook them.  Put the tomatoes in a pot and cover them with water.  Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes.  You will probably have to do this in several batches.  Take the jars out one at a time as they you use them.  Put two tablespoons of lemon juice in each jar and fill the jars to the top with tomatoes except for 1/4 inch.  Fill the remaining space with the tomato liquid.  Using tongs, place the lids on top and screw the screw cap firm, but not too tight.  When all of the jars are ready, put them back into the hot water and make sure the jars are covered by water.  Bring to a boil and keep it boiling for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, turn the heat off and take the  lid of the pot off and allow to sit for five minutes.  Then remove and put onto a towel and allow to cool for a day.  If they don't seal, put them into the fridge or freezer.  DO NOT store in the cabinet with the rest.

The result: 7-10 meals for the winter.  They are gorgeous!  You could use them as a table display if you'd like.  I may.  I can't wait to try these in the winter when I'm craving hearty lasagna and Mediterranean chicken.  What is the biggest accomplishment you've had in the kitchen?

Canned Tomatoes
1/2 bushel of tomatoes
7 quart jars
lemon juice


  1. I canned tomatoes for the first time this year too! Like you, I totally caught the canning bug. What started with a few jars of jam turned into a bushel of tomatoes for passata, pasta and pizza sauce, a bushel of peppers for pepperonata, canned peaches and rummy plums, pickled everything...oh, the joys of canning season!

    Your tomatoes look gorgeous and I love how they kept their shape. What a treat they will be in the middle of February!!

  2. Thank you! I kept canning with the exact thought of knowing how much I'll appreciate this in February!! Would love to see your pictures as well!

  3. Informative blog..I never tried this method of canning tomatoes.You have shared very well description of this technique and now,I will definitely try out.So that,I can preserve this food for long period of time..keep sharing such useful post