Friday, July 20, 2012

Canning Tomatoes


One of my favorite, most fun memories of canning tomatoes was with my ex's sister when she lived with us for awhile. Martha and I became the proud co-owners of several bushels of tomatoes and we spent a day, from early morning to far into the night canning those tomatoes, my three children, and her two entertained themselves, made their own breakfast, lunch, and dinner... and we canned... and canned... and canned...

As evening turned into night and we were still canning... the kids drifting through from time to time... we had a big folding table set up in the middle of the kitchen and we stood with the sink and stove on one side and that big table on the other... so as the kids would walk past, we started doing a "Julia Childs" style "cooking show." We were that tired... you know when you get so tired you get silly... and giggly and even things that are not funny become the source of uproarious laughter... yep that was us! The kids were highly entertained, and they showed us their appreciation of our antics with much eye-rolling, but they kept coming in to see what the Julia Childs of tomato canning would do and say next... we were laughing at our own foolishness so hard there were tears streaming... fun times...

My most recent tomato canning session was much tamer and a much more quiet occasion... we're just starting to get a few tomatoes from our garden... more than we can keep up with just eating, but not enough to put up just yet... so I've been saving the ripest ones in a gallon freezer bag in the freezer and by this past weekend felt I had accumulated enough with that day's pickings to can up a few jars at least... my tomato canning finger was itching... I needed to get in there and can some up.

Here's what I did...

I put all my fresh, ripe tomatoes in the sink along with the frozen ones from the freezer and poured boiling water over them... leaving them immersed in the boiling water for a minute or so...

Frozen tomatoes (see the frost?) and fresh ripe tomatoes...
see that little green one... I planted one variety called
German Green and they're a yellowish green even when
ripe... yep that's a ripe tomato, I promise!

When the skins on the tomatoes began loosening and cracking, I plunged them into cold water and slipped the skins right off... I removed the cores and any blemishes or bad spots.


After peeling and coring, I cut the tomatoes into pieces... eighths for the larger ones, quarters or halves for the smaller ones.

I transferred them all to a large stainless steel saucepan and brought them to a boil (they were plenty juicy, no need to add water and I kinda crushed them as I stirred to extract even more juice)... I turned the heat down and boiled them gently, stirring to prevent any from scorching, for about five minutes.



In each of my hot, sterilized quart jars, I measured two tablespoons lemon juice.


Then ladled the hot tomatoes into each jar...


I added a teaspoon of canning salt to each quart (this is optional)


I checked for air bubbles and removed any by running a butter knife between the inside of the jar and the contents, then adjusted if necessary by adding more tomatoes and juice, leaving a one inch headspace.

I wiped the jar rims with a damp cloth.


I centered the hot lid on the jar and screwed the band down until resistance was met, then increase to fingertip tightness.

I placed the jars in my canner, ensuring they were completely covered with water. I brought the water to a boil and processed the quart jars for 45 minutes in the boiling water bath (pints would process for 35 minutes). After processing, I removed the hot jars, set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool...

And to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar! Yay for tomatoes! One of the most versatile of all the canned foods I put up each year... can't wait for more tomatoes to ripen in my garden... and I'm thinking a trip to the farmers market might be in order for even more tomatoes!

35 comments:

  1. So glad you mentioned freezing them. I was wondering what I was going to do with the ones that are ripe while waiting on more to ripen (call it a blond moment! LOL). Thanks for the great tutorial, and I'm with you - I'm thinking a trip to the farmer's market might be in order for more ;)

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  2. My mother cooked the tomatoes and then skimmed all the foamy stuff off the top,after about 30 minutes when there was no more foam left she then put the tomatoes in sterilized jars with hot lids.They all seemed to seal and never had to pressure cook.

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  3. My wife follows your tutorial except for the last step about "processing". The jars seal fine and we have never had a problem. Thanks.

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  4. I just canned 7 quarts the other day. My garden has been slow to grow here in GA, plus the deer have been hungry! My aunt from N.C. told me a long time ago about freezing tomatoes until I could use them; it is a good tip as a lot of people don't know this including the old couple I bought some tomatoes from. I enjoy reading your blog and facebook too.

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  5. I was just wondering- is the salt added for flavor or for preservation?
    http://littlehomesteadinboise.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. The salt is for flavor only. ~~Granny

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  6. I see you used some frozen tomatoes... Did you freeze them until you have enough to can? Going to be trying my hand at canning this summer. Have only made 3 batches of jelly..Wish me luck....Thanks for all you invaluable information. Your site is always a go to for me...cory

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Cory, I froze some until I had enough to can a few jars... works great! ~~Granny

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  7. How appropriate! I spent today, and will spend tomorrow, canning the umpteen pound of tomatoes I bought on sale! I want to try making tomato paste and ketchup, too...yummy!

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    Replies
    1. You and me both Lisa! Tomatoes Day2 here I come! Good luck with yours! ~~Granny

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    2. Granny,
      The tomato canning was a success!! Mostly...I think. Sauce came out fine, but my jars (pint) of chopped tomotes, after canning, are not as full as they were when they went into the pressure cooker. And I don't mean 1/4 inch lower, I mean like an inch less! Any ideas? And 10 lbs of tomatoes turned into only 12 ounces of tomato paste!

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    3. I know, Lisa... sauce and paste are a LOT of tomatoes and work for a little yield but it's great later! As far as your tomatoes in jars, is it like liquid in the bottom and tomatoes floating? if so, that's normal, the tomatoes just cooked up and shrank a little, the juice is tomato juice so all is well and your tomatoes are just super juicy. if it's loss of liquid, that happens sometimes for a number of reasons and as long as your jars sealed and it's not like over half the jar loss of liquid, they'll be fine. (jars will lose liquid sometimes if the pressure is uneven or if you take them out before they cool a little or several other reasons I can't think of right now ;-) The way jars seal is during the heating and cooling, the air is "burped" out of the jar through the lid edges and sometimes some liquid "burps" out as well. I'm sure your tomatoes will be lovely! Yay for you! ~~Granny

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  8. Hi Granny! I have an abundance of tomatoes this year from our garden and I've never canned before. I don't really have the money to invest in a canner right now and I actually don't even know the exact purpose in it to be honest. Can you tell me if you think just placing the jars in a large pot of boiling water "might" work?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, for canning tomatoes you don't need a pressure canner, just something to do a boiling water bath. If you have a large enough pot to cover the jars with water, you certainly can use that... and honestly, if the water will reach at LEAST to the bottom edge of the lids, it will work. ~~Granny

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    2. I didn't have a water bath cannery either. I am using one of my tall pots with a lid. I made my own rack for the bottom. The metal decorative cover from my range was the right size. It is about 3/4" tall, and fits perfectly in my lidded pot. I drilled some holes in it. I have been using it for two seasons. I only can can four pints at a time, but it works.

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  9. Granny,
    Thanks so much for your comments about my tomatoes. My own granny went to heaven 15 years ago and my mom doesn't know or remember much of what she once knew :( As for my tomatoes the puree/sauce came out perfectly, but the diced lost enough liquid that the tops of the dices look like they are "exposed" to air inside the jar. No separation of solids and liquids. In fact, when I canned great northern beans a month or so ago, same thing. I promise I don't vent the pressure canner early, or take jars out before they cool...to me it would be dumb to waste the work that went into prepping stuff to be canned, only to mess it up for lack of some patience at the end!

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    Replies
    1. Lisa, sometimes it just happens... seems to happen to me every time I can any shelled beans or peas... but they've always kept just fine and we eat them. They may have a little discoloration at the top but that's all it is, discoloration, not spoilage... they'll be great! ~~Granny

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  10. Can I safely add onions and peppers to this mix and can the same way? It's been so long since I've done this that my memory isn't on par with my wants.

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    Replies
    1. Might want to add a bit more acidity like vinegar or lemon juice... try following the recipe I posted for RoTel, which is a mixture of tomatoes, onion, peppers, etc. (if you don't want the heat, don't add the jalapenos) Here's the link http://canninggranny.blogspot.com/2012/07/canning-homemade-ro-tel.html ~~Granny

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing all of you knowledge! I just started canning this year and have really enjoyed it! I am about to try your rotel recipe. On the last batch of plain old canned tomoatoes I forgot to add the lemon Juice.... will these spoil faster now? I can not believe i forgot! Thanks again for you recipes, yours has become one of my favorite sites!

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    Replies
    1. They most likely will be just fine, but you might want to use those jars first. Happy Canning! ~~Granny

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    2. I haven't ever put lemon juice in my tomatoes and I only water bath for 10-15 minutes. I also don't cook my tomatoes before putting them in the jars. This has worked for me and my tomatoes are great. Now we do eat them up before the next season.

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  12. Why such a long time processing? I haven't canned in about 12 years, and my hubby and I just started canning again this year. My grandmother was the one who taught me how to can but I lost her a year and a half ago and I don't have anyone I know to ask. I keep coming across so many different opinions on what needs processing, what doesn't, and how long something should be processed for. It's all so confusing! :)

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    Replies
    1. The time is from the Ball Book and from years of canning tomatoes with my Mom... ~~Granny

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  16. my mother canned tomatoes for years. she would cook the tomatoes completely. adding tsp canning salt to each quart. placed tomatoes in steril jars. wiped off top as you did. but she never did the water bath. she seemed never to have a problem.

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  17. Our tomatoes started coming on full force now. We are picking about 25 a day. I too save them in the freezer until we get enough to can a big batch. Here' a tip from a friend about freezing. Before freezing slice an X in the bottom of the tomato about 1/8th in deep. When they defrost there in no need for soaking in boiling water-- the peels just slip right off. Also I place them in a colander over a big pot to thaw. Those juices are frozen in pint canning jars and used in place of water in soups, for rice & beans. The tomatoes will be canned like you did in this post. Thank you for a wonderful post.

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  18. Thank you so much for the helpful blog post! I've only canned pickled banana peppers before, but my little garden is full of roma and beefsteak tomatoes this year, and I think I'll have a bumper crop!

    And the tip about freezing tomatoes until you have enough to can is great. I'll be doing that for sure.

    Here's to a great winter with chili and vegetable soup with tomatoes from my garden!

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  19. Thank you so much for the helpful blog post! I've only canned pickled banana peppers before, but my little garden is full of roma and beefsteak tomatoes this year, and I think I'll have a bumper crop!

    And the tip about freezing tomatoes until you have enough to can is great. I'll be doing that for sure.

    Here's to a great winter with chili and vegetable soup with tomatoes from my garden!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I canned a friend's tomatoes for her last night but didn't have enough to completely fill the jars. Is it ok that #1 I forgot the lemon juice and #2 there is about a 2 inch space at the top of each jar? I don't want her and her family getting sick because I don't know what I'm doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I spoke with some friends that can and they said that those will just have to be eaten within a week and then I'll know better how to do it next time.

      Delete
  21. I'm canning whole tomatoes today and was wondering if I need the lemon juice? What does it do and is it optional?

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