Canning Summer Fresh Tomatoes
This summer we were blessed with a great crop of flavorful tomatoes in our garden. This is the one crop that is a must in our garden. However, this is also a busy time because they all seem to ripen at the same time!
Canning your summer tomatoes is an easy way to preserve your tomatoes. It's an easy task and once you start, you will want to start canning everything!
Canning Lids and rings
Pressure Canner – We use our extra large canning pot
Large pot of water for blanching and peeling
Large bowl for Ice Bath
Cutting board and sharp knives
Tomatoes – 2- 3 lbs
Citric Acid – We use the Call Citric Acid ( 1/4 tsp per quart jar )
Tea kettle of boiling water – for filling the jars
Where to begin
Always start with garden or farmers market fresh tomatoes that are blemish-free. Ripe tomatoes are a little soft, but firm. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator or they will lose their taste. This is why store-bought tomatoes aren't as good. It also gives them a pulpy texture that you want to avoid.
Start with giving your tomatoes a thorough cleaning. Inspect them for holes from insects and pick out the best ones. The others can be chopped up for cooking.
We always suggest washing and sterilizing your canning jars while you prep your canning area. A clean workspace and sterile jars ensure you aren't canning bacteria with your veggies!
Choose your canning method
Prepping Your Tomatoes
After your tomatoes are clean, you want to choose if you are going to can them whole, chopped, stewed, or made into sauce.
Peeling – This is my favorite trick for using tomatoes – cut an X in the bottom of each tomato and core them. Then gently drop it into a large pot full of rolling boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Then with a slotted large spoon, or tongs, gently toss them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
The peels will slide right off!
Because I don't know what I will use the tomatoes for in the future, I do not salt or season my tomatoes in the canning process.
See our Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe for all of the ingredients you'll need to make a plain sauce that you can flavor later.
Also, you have to think about how the acidity changes when you add other ingredients. I have added herbs and onions with great success. But don't forget to include the citric acid!
If your sauce has other vegetables, like onions or peppers you will need to use a pressure canner to process it because the acidity has changed and that can be a risk for botulism.
Water Bath Instructions
- Fill a large saucepan 2/3 with water and bring to a simmer – This is for the lids. I have a little lid canning rack that goes in the pot and lifts easily.
- Fill canner or Instant Pot 1/2 way with water on low heat. Make sure to have the canner water hot, but not boiling hot, when you fill it with the jars.
- Prepare your sterile jars by heating them in a large pot of water on low-med heat. Allow the water to fill the jars so they don't float.
- One at a time, remove the jars using canning tongs that are made to pick up the rims of the jars and carefully pour the water back into the pot. Place them on your flat towel on the counter.
- I raw pack my tomatoes so they aren't overcooked. Stuff the tomatoes in the jar and fill all the way to the top curve of the jar. Then add your citric acid and seasoning.
- Fill each jar with your boiling water from the tea kettle.
- With a non-metallic tool, remove any air bubbles and fill with more water as needed.
- Wipe the rim with a clean towel, then center the hot lid on the jar and apply the ring finger-tight. Be sure and wipe the rims of your jars clean before placing your lids on. If there are bits of food, it may interfere with the seal.
- Repeat until all jars are filled. The jars will cool slightly, but that's normal.
- Process the filled jars as your canning preference requires. Water canning – 30-45 minutes.
- Remove jars and cool. You should hear them make a POP as they start to cool.
- Check the lids after 24 hours and make sure they do not flex when the center is pressed.
It's completely normal for tomatoes to float in the jars or for small air bubbles to form inside the jars.
That's it! Canning is easy!
I wasn't expecting THAT!
Funny story – I was excited to take some photos of my garden and the tomatoes I was processing for this article. I had forgotten to take photos of my tomato plants before I picked this batch.
So I ran out to the garden, and snapped some photos. Then something caught my eye, where I had just picked my bounty was something I hadn't seen while I was there a few minutes before.
A GIANT spider! I now call her Ohshit and she now owns this bush. She is an Orb Spider, completely harmless and apparently she is why I hadn't had any insect problems on that particular bush.
Even though I can see my tomatoes doing very well on that plant. I'm probably going to let them rot on the vine because there is no way I am going to cross that spider and take that fruit!