Gardening 101: Canning Tomatoes

It’s time for another installment in my Gardening 101 series!  Now that you’ve planted your seeds and grown tomatoes, or other plants, you’re likely soon going to be drowning in fresh veggies. Don’t let those gorgeous homegrown beauties go to waste, can them!

Here is a list of all the supplies you’ll need:

Canning jars, lids, rings
Tongs for removing hot jars and lids from boiling water
Funnel for filling jars
Large Pot
Wooden Spoon
Tomatoes
Tomato Juice
Lemon Juice

Sterilizing Your Materials

First you will want to sterilize your canning materials: canning jars, lids, rings, and make sure your tools are nice and clean. The dishwasher works well for tools such as tongs, lid magnet wand and funnel. I picked up all my tools on Amazon.

Below are some photos of the sterilization process. I followed a basic guide online, and a huge stock pot that I picked up at the grocery store, right along with the jars themselves! I filled the pot and jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. I then boiled them for 10 minutes (please note, you will need to boil for longer if you’re at higher elevations). Lastly I removed and drained the hot sterilized jars one at a time using my tongs. I also sterilized the lids and rings along with the jars.

Canning Tomatoes

Now onto the stars of the show: the tomatoes! In the same large pot, you will want to make sure the water is boiling again. Clean your tomatoes, and have them ready, keeping a strainer, tongs and a bowl of cold water and ice nearby. You will want to add the tomatoes, carefully, to the boiling water, and let them soak for under a minute, turning them around to get each side dunked.

What the boiling water will do is loosen the skin, making the tomatoes extremely easy to peel. You will not be cooking the tomatoes, just watching them carefully: once the skin starts to peel up, you want to remove them with your strainer or tongs, and dip them into the ice bath.

Keep this process going, adding a few tomatoes at a time to the boiling water, than the ice bath, and setting them on a towel or drying mat to drain. Once they are cooled, you can easily peel the skins from the tomatoes.

As you’re doing this, you will want to add some tomato juice to a pot on the stove to warm it through. This does not need to be fully cooked through, just warmed.

You will want to add as many peeled tomatoes to your jars as will fit, without really squishing them in. I added 4-5 roma tomatoes to each quart jar, but the number varied based on the size of the tomatoes themselves. If you’re using a larger or smaller jar, the number of tomatoes you can fit will vary as well.

You will then add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the tomatoes, and will fill the remaining space in the jar by pouring in the warm tomato juice. I used a funnel for this part, but, if you have a steady hand, you might be able to just pour! From there, you will run your wooden spoon down the side to release any air bubbles. Add your lids and lightly secure the rings.

Next you will add all of your jars back to your large pot, and cover with at least 1 inch of water. The jars will boil for another 45 minutes. This will really seal them up and sterilize the tomatoes for the long haul!

The jars will need to be lifted carefully and placed on a cutting board or right on your counter to set, usually overnight. I left the rings on my jars, but loosened them, or you can remove them. This will prevent the rings from rusting in place. 

Once the jars have cooled, check the seal by pressing in the center, gently, with your finger. If the lid pops up and down, it is not sealed. These jars are fine for the fridge, and the tomatoes can be used for sauces in the next week or so. If the lid does not pop, you’re good to store in a cool dry place, like a pantry.  It is normal to see the tomatoes floating above a layer of liquid (tomatoes have a lot of water in them and it separates a bit through this process). 

Feeling inquisitive? This guide has an awesome FAQ section at the bottom of the post with some great extras!!

You can use your tomatoes throughout the entire Fall, Winter and Spring, making (almost) fresh tomato sauces, or topping veggies like asparagus with tomatoes and baking. I like to mix mine in with a rice blend also, for a tomatoey risotto like option. They are tasty and healthy and delicious! Plus they’re home grown, organic and non-GMO! What more could you ask for?!

Below are two items I recommend picking up for at home canning!

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Have you ever canned tomatoes or other veggies from your garden? Do you have any tips and tricks for canning?

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