You’ve been growing tomatoes all season long and now it is time to harvest and can them. Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve all your hard work from your garden and can provide the perfect addition to any meal. Use them to make spaghetti sauce, salsa, stew or just eat them plain. Learn how to can tomatoes using a pressure canner or water bath canner.
How to Can Tomatoes
1. If you are looking up how to can tomatoes you have a couple of options at your disposal. You can use a water bath canner or a pressure canner. With the addition of lemon juice, both methods are safe. In a water bath canner, process a quart jars for 45 minutes and pint jars for 40 minutes. This can change depending on your altitude. If you’re using a pressure canner, the process time will be about 15 minutes. Adjust for your altitude.
2. Heat up your mason jars in simmering water until they’re ready to use. Don’t let the water get to a boil.
3. Prepare the tomatoes by blanching them them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Dip them in cold water and easily remove the skins. Remove the core and green parts of the tomato. You can cut the tomatoes up in quarters or halves, or leave them whole. Just make sure they can fit in your jars.
4. Pack the tomatoes into the heated mason jars. If you are going to be water bath canning your tomatoes add a little lemon juice to the tomatoes. For a quart jar, add 2 tbsp. of lemon juice, for a pint jar add 1 tbsp. This helps seal in flavor and color. More importantly, the lemon juice increases the acidity of the tomatoes, decreasing the risk of botulism. If you are using a pressure canner to can tomatoes, lemon juice is not needed.
5. Using a ladle, pour boiling water on the tomatoes, leaving about an inch of headspace (the space between the liquid and the top of the jar).
6. Remove the air bubbles with a bubble remover. Wipe the jars with a damp cloth and secure the lids. Make sure the lids and bands are only finger-tight. The canner will tightly seal the lids and bands.
7. Put the filled jars into the canner using tongs. Follow the directions for your specific canner for canning times and pressure settings, if applicable.
8. Wait for the pressure canner to cool down and the pressure to drop to zero before removing your jars. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your pressure canner. If you open the canner too early, you can lose liquid in your jars. Once the pressure canner is done, use the jar lifter to remover the jars. Let them cool on a towel or wooden cutting board.
9. Once the jars have cooled down, it’s time to store them. Store your jars in a cool, dry place that’s out of direct sunlight.