Preserving Garden Jewels: Part 2 - Canning Whole Tomatoes

By Kathleen Guagliano (Katg) on August 1, 2010

The season of abundance is upon us. All of a sudden you have tomatoes coming out of your ears and are just wondering what to do with them. Canning them whole takes a little time, but is so worth the effort! Put them in your pantry and enjoy them anytime, but especially when tasty tomatoes are hard to come by! No tinny taste and no preservatives!

Canning Whole Tomatoes

There is really nothing like a jar of good homemade canned tomatoes. No tinny taste and totally preservative free. It’s a great way to use an over-abundance of home grown tomatoes and in my case, end of the season Florida tomatoes purchased from a local veggie vendor. 

I used 30lbs of Tomatoes and yielded 8 quarts of preserves. They really do shrink a lot, but with this method you get a lot of tomatoes and not a lot of water. Tomatoes are full of water and I try to drain out as much as I can before packing,

This would be considered a raw-pack method. USDA recommends that you hot-bath process for 90 minutes and add lemon juice. I personally use the Minnesota method and process mine for 55 minutes. Read the following link to decide which method you would prefer:

USDA Guidelines for Canning Tomatoes - Proper processing methods



30lbs of Tomatoes (about 50 large)

Pickling Salt (for flavor only - can be omitted)

Basil leaves (optional)

2 tablespoons of lemon juice per quart

Prepare your jars. Wash your jars in soapy hot water and inspect the tops for any chips or cracks. Fill a large canning bath with water and bring to a simmer. Keep the boil up by adding in more water. – You want it to be at boiling point when you add the jars for processing.

Start out with ripe and unblemished tomatoes. If they need a little more ripening, put them out in the sun for a day.
Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and then prepare an ice bath.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the tomatoes (about 15 at a time or whatever your pot will take) and cook for about 45 seconds.
Scoop the first batch of tomatoes out of the boiling water and plunge them into the ice-water. You won’t believe how well the skin comes off!

Peel all your tomatoes and let them sit to drain

Cut the center core out of the tomato as well as any hard, corey or yellow areas off the top

If you're not crazy about seeds, cut the tomatoes in half and although you wont be able to remove all of them, a quick flick of the knife will remove some. You now have a huge bowl of prepared tomatoes Sterilize your jars: I usually put about 4 inches of water into a large roastpan and bring it to a boil. Bring it down to a simmer and sit the jars upside down in the pan and let them sit in there for at least 10 minutes. Add your lids also.
Add a scant tablespoon of Pickling or Kosher Salt to the bottom of the jar as well as the lemon juice. Take the tomatoes and fill the jar, pressing down and ensuring there are no air pockets. Add a couple of Basil leaves if you like. When the jar is filled, run a knife around the outside to free any trapped air pockets. Keep filling to the top leaving about ½ inch headspace.

When the jars are filled, run a clean cloth around the rim of the jar to ensure there are no loose seeds, residue etc.. Place a sterilized lid on top and hand secure the band…not too tight.

Place the jars carefully into the canner – ensure that the water is close to boiling.

Wait until the water returns to a gentle boil and set your timer. Process quart jars for 55 minutes (Minnesota method) or 90 minutes (USDA method). There should be a least 1-2 inches of water covering the jars. (Based on Quart jars - see above link for pints)

Lift the jars out of the water with a jar grip and let them cool on a towel, without touching or bumping in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight). Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it.


These tomatoes are so good when you open a jar! The scent is amazing and you forget what homemade canned tomatoes taste like when you've been using canned. I actually hate to use them for long-boiled sauce and because I don't make a huge quantity and I usually save them for recipes where they're not cooked too long - like a last additive for soup or my favorite comfort food - Macaroni and tomatoes. Sometimes though, they're just good straight out of the jar!



C A N N I N G    E Q U I P M E N T

This basic Old fashioned type of canner comes with a rack and is big enough to hold 7 quart jars. 

These Jar Grips are indispensible when using them to remove jars from the boiling water bath.

The little item on the left has a magnetic tip to retrieve jar tops that are sterilizing in boiling water.


Happy Canning!

Visit my Cubit for an alternate recipe foTomato Juice



Related articles:
Homemade canned tomatoes

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Untitled kiig99 Feb 13, 2020 12:48 PM 0
It's tomato time here in Florida! Katg Dec 2, 2010 9:51 PM 0
Very Nice and Timely Article! stormyla Aug 6, 2010 2:38 PM 3
Your recipe is OUT OF DATE. vicinsea Aug 1, 2010 3:17 PM 1
I love tomatoes! Zanymuse Aug 1, 2010 2:49 PM 2

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