How to Home Can Tomatoes for Beginners

Tomatoes CannedCanning is the best way to enjoy fresh, flavorful garden-grown tomatoes long after harvest time.

Canned tomatoes are ideal for use in soups, stews, and casseroles. You will need 22 pounds of fresh tomatoes for a canner load of 7 quarts and 14 pounds of fresh tomatoes for a canner load of 9 pints. That’s about 2½ to 3 pounds of firm, unblemished tomatoes for each quart you can. Use vine-ripened tomatoes for the best flavor.

You can home can just about any ripe tomato out of your garden. But the ultimate canning varieties are San Marzano and Roma—they are meaty and firm. But don’t shy away from canning heirlooms or any other tomato you really love. It’s all about flavor.

A pressure canner is the best choice for canning tomatoes. The pressure canner is said to preserve more of the tomato’s nutritional value.

The alternative is hot-water or boiling-water canned tomatoes; that’s the way your great-grandmother canned tomatoes, so it’s tried and true.

A quick safety note; it is highly recommended that you add bottled lemon juice to home-canned tomatoes. The acid from lemon juice will neutralize microorganisms that can cause illness. Use bottled, not fresh, lemon juice when canning tomatoes. Bottled lemon juice has a standardized acidity which is important for safety. (For information on all USDA canning safety guidelines visit the online site for the National Center for Home Food Preservation / nchfp.uga.edu.)

Supplies You Will Need to Can Tomatoes

  • Canning jars, pints or quarts
  • Matching lids and rings
  • Boiling-water canner with rack OR a pressure-gauge canners (most are designed to hold seven quart jars or eight to nine pint jars)
  • Wide mouthed funnel
  • Tongs
  • Jar lifter

Ways to Can Tomatoes

Here are four common ways to home-can tomatoes (each is explained below):

  • Crushed
  • Whole or halved and packed raw with no liquid
  • Whole or halved packed in water
  • Whole or halved packed in tomato juice

How to Can Crushed Tomatoes

1. Wash and peel tomatoes. Dip the washed tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until the skin split. Then dip in cold water, slip off the skins and remove the cores.

2. Cut into quarters. Trim away any bruised or discolored portions before quartering.

3. Add enough of the cut tomatoes into a large pan to cover the bottom.

4. Crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as they are added to the pan. This will exude juice.

5. Heat and stir the tomatoes to bring to a boil.

6. Slowly add remaining tomatoes to the boiling tomatoes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. These remaining tomatoes do not need to be crushed; they will soften while heating and stirring.

7. Simmer—boil gently–for 5 minutes,

8. Fill the jars.

9. Add bottled lemon juice: 1 teaspoon for pints, 2 tablespoons for quarts.

10. Add salt if desired; ¼ to ½ teaspoon for pints, ½ to 1 teaspoon for quarts.

11. Leave ½ inch headspace.

12, Adjust lids and process.

Boiling-Water Canning: Process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes.

Pressure Canning: Process pints and quarts for 15 minutes. For a dial-gauge canner, use 11 pounds pressure; for a weighted-gauge canner, use 10 pounds pressure.

Adjustments for Altitude: At altitudes above 1,000 feet different pressures are used: for dial-gauge pressure canner: 11 pounds of pressure up to 2,000 feet; 12 pounds of pressure 2,001 to 4,000 feet; 13 pounds of pressure 4,001 to 6,000 feet; 14 pounds of pressure 6,001 to 8,000 feet. Using a weighted-gauge canner use 15 pounds of pressure above 1,000 feet.

How to Can Whole or Halved Tomatoes, Packed Raw With No Added Liquid

1. Wash and peel tomatoes: wash then dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until the skins split; then dip in cold water to remove skins. Leave whole or halve.

2. Add bottled lemon juice: 1 tablespoon for pints, 2 tablespoons for quarts.

3. Add salt if desired; ¼ to ½ teaspoon for pints, ½ to 1 teaspoon for quarts.

4. Fill jars with raw tomatoes, leave ½-inch headspace. Press tomatoes in the jars until spaces between them fill with juice; remember to leave ½-inch headspace.

5. Adjust lids and process.

Boiling-Water Canning: Process pints and quarts for 85 minutes.

Pressure Canning: Process pints and quarts for 25 minutes.

Adjustments for Altitude: At altitudes above 1,000 feet different pressures are used: for dial-gauge pressure canner: 11 pounds of pressure up to 2,000 feet; 12 pounds of pressure 2,001 to 4,000 feet; 13 pounds of pressure 4,001 to 6,000 feet; 14 pounds of pressure 6,001 to 8,000 feet. Using a weighted-gauge canner use 15 pounds of pressure above 1,000 feet.

How to Can Whole or Halved Tomatoes, Water-Packed

1. Wash and peel tomatoes: wash then dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until the skins split; then dip in cold water. Leave whole or halve.

2. Add bottled lemon juice: 1 tablespoon for pints, 2 tablespoons for quarts.

3. Add salt if desired; ¼ to ½ teaspoon for pints, ½ to 1 teaspoon for quarts.

4. Fill jars with hot tomatoes or raw peeled tomatoes, pressing to fill spaces with juice.

5. Add the hot cooking liquid to hot packed tomatoes or boiling water for raw packed; cover the tomatoes with liquid; leave ½ inch headspace.

6. Adjust the lids and process.

Boiling-Water Canning: Process pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes.

Pressure Canning: Process pints and quarts for 10 minutes.

Adjustments for Altitude: At altitudes above 1,000 feet different pressures are used: for dial-gauge pressure canner: 11 pounds of pressure up to 2,000 feet; 12 pounds of pressure 2,001 to 4,000 feet; 13 pounds of pressure 4,001 to 6,000 feet; 14 pounds of pressure 6,001 to 8,000 feet. Using a weighted-gauge canner use 15 pounds of pressure above 1,000 feet.

How to Can Whole or Halved Tomatoes, Packed in Tomato Juice

1. Wash and peel tomatoes: wash then dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until the skins split; then dip in cold water. Leave whole or halve.

2. Add bottled lemon juice: 1 tablespoon for pints, 2 tablespoons for quarts.

3. Add salt if desired; ¼ to ½ teaspoon for pints, ½ to 1 teaspoon for quarts.

4. Raw pack: Heat tomato juice in a saucepan. Fill jars with raw peeled tomatoes, pressing to fill spaces with juice. Cover the tomatoes with hot tomato juices, leaving ½ inch headspace.

Hot pack: Put tomatoes in a large saucepan and add enough tomato juice to completely cover them. Simmer or gently boil the tomatoes and juice for 5 minutes. Fill the jars with hot tomatoes and hot tomato juice, leaving ½ inch headspace.

5. Adjust the lids and process.

Boiling-Water Canning: Process pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes.

Pressure Canning: Process pints and quarts for 10 minutes.

Adjustments for Altitude: At altitudes above 1,000 feet different pressures are used: for dial-gauge pressure canner: 11 pounds of pressure up to 2,000 feet; 12 pounds of pressure 2,001 to 4,000 feet; 13 pounds of pressure 4,001 to 6,000 feet; 14 pounds of pressure 6,001 to 8,000 feet. Using a weighted-gauge canner use 15 pounds of pressure above 1,000 feet.