There’s nothing quite like opening up a can of fresh tomatoes in the winter to make you feel like you are relaxing in the warm sun of the past summer. When most people think of canned tomatoes, they think of whole peeled tomatoes, but that’s not the only method for canning tomatoes.
You can also can stewed tomatoes, halved tomatoes, and even be successful canning tomato juice and canning tomato sauce to enjoy at a later date. Here’s how to can tomatoes at home so you can enjoy fresh tomatoes year-round.
The Ultimate Guide to Canning Tomatoes
How to Can Tomatoes
Whether you have a garden full of tomatoes or you like to purchase them in bulk at the farmers market during the growing season, canning tomatoes at home can save you money.
The process of home canning does take some time and is a bit of a hassle, but the process doesn’t require you to have any special skills. All you need is the right canning equipment and an excess of ripe tomatoes.
Canning Whole Tomatoes Using the Water Bath Method
Before you start canning tomatoes, choose the tomatoes that you’re going to use. Roma tomatoes work well for canning, but you can use any tomatoes, as long as they aren’t too ripe. Overripe tomatoes aren’t good for canning because of their high-acid content.
Once you’ve chosen the tomatoes you’re going to can, stem and wash tomatoes.
Water bath canning tomatoes is a long but easy process. Fill one of the saucepans two-thirds full of hot water. Then fill half of the boiling-water canner with warm water and place it on the stove to boil.
Wash the canning jars and rims in hot, soapy water, making sure to rinse thoroughly. Leave the jars in hot water until you need them. Put the lids in a pan of water and bring to a simmer.
Select enough tomatoes for a single canner load. Place the tomatoes in the wire basket that came with the water bath and lower them into a large pot of boiling water. Remove them when the skins start to crack, approximately 60 to 90 seconds.
Dip the tomatoes into cold water to help loosen the tomato skins. Cut out the center of the tomatoes and remove the skins from the tomatoes.
Keep the tomatoes whole or cut them in half. Place the tomatoes in the large pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and gently boil the tomatoes for five minutes.
Take one jar out of the hot water and drain the water. Add two tablespoons lemon juice to each quart jar. If you use pint jars, you only need to use one tablespoon lemon juice. Carefully remove the hot tomatoes from the boiling water bath with a slotted spoon and pack them in the jar, making sure to leave a half-inch headspace.
Pour the hot cooking liquid that was used to boil the tomatoes into the jar, again leaving a half inch headspace. Add a teaspoon of coarse salt to each quart jar, or ½ teaspoon for each pint jar.
Run a plastic spatula around the jar between the tomatoes to release any air bubbles that might be trapped. Wipe down the top and threads of the jar with a damp, clean cloth.
Use tongs to remove a lid from the simmering water and place it on top of the jar, then screw the band on the jar. Repeat the steps with the remaining jars.
As you fill each jar, stand it on the water-bath canning rack in hot water. Make sure to cover the jars with up to two inches of water. Place the cover on the canner and bring to a boil.
The processing time for quart jars is 45 minutes, and pints are 40 minutes. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove jars from the canner and place them several inches apart on a cloth or wood surface. Allow the hot jars to cool for about 12 hours.
Remove the rims from the jar to test the seal, then wash the outside of the jar surface and replace the rims. Place in a dry, dark place until ready to use.
Pressure Canning Tomatoes
If you don’t feel like spending the better part of a day using a water bath for canning tomatoes, use a pressure canner for pressure canning tomatoes and spend half the time in the kitchen. When you can tomatoes with a pressure canner, you can have a pantry full of canned tomatoes in as little as ten minutes. Here’s how to go about pressure canning tomatoes.
Wash all the tomatoes and drop them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Work in small batches. Remove the tomatoes from the pan and put them in a sink of ice water. The ice water will help separate the skins from the tomato, so they are easier to remove.
Use a small knife to cut out the center of the tomatoes. If the bottom of the tomato didn’t come off when you peeled it, use the knife to remove it. Use whole tomatoes or cut them in half or quarter sized pieces.
Place the tomatoes in the jars, making sure to leave an inch headspace. If you need to adjust the number of vegetables in the jars to allow for this, do it now. Once you have your jars filled, add two tablespoons, if using quart jars, or one tablespoon if using pints, of lemon juice to each jar.
Since tomatoes are considered low-acid, it is essential you don’t skip this step to ensure you obtain safe acidity for the vegetables. Add a teaspoon of coarse salt to the jars to enhance the flavor of the tomatoes. Finally, add some tomato juice to the jars, so your tomatoes don’t end up looking watery.
You will need to use about two and a half cans of tomato juice for 24 quarts of tomatoes. Use a plastic knife or rubber spatula and run it around the inside of the jars to remove trapped air bubbles. Wipe down the rims of the jars, making sure to remove any tomato juice or stray seeds.
In another pot, boil some water. Turn the heat off and add as many jar lids as you need. Let the lids stand for ten minutes, then remove the tops from the pot and place them on your clean jars. Add the metal band and tighten.
Place the prepared jars in your pressure canner and add water to the cooker. Turn on the heat and put on the pressure canner lid, making sure that you vent the canner. When the canner reaches the correct pressure, process the jars at ten pounds for ten minutes.
After ten minutes, turn off the heat. Let the pressure canner drop to zero, then remove the lid. Remove the jars and let them sit for at least 24 hours. Check the seals by removing the rings, then wash the jars in hot, soapy water before putting away.
Best Recipe with Canned Tomatoes
When you don’t have fresh tomatoes available for cooking, pull out the tomatoes that you canned at the end of the summer to create a delicious and healthy dish. Canned tomatoes are low in calories and are chock full of iron, fiber, and vitamins C and B6.
Tomatoes are also a terrific source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps lower the risk of heart disease, macular degeneration, and cancer. Here is a delicious recipe using canned tomatoes that you can enjoy any time of year.
How to Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Canned Tomatoes
When you learn how to can whole tomatoes, you can start making and canning spaghetti sauce with the fruits of your labor. When you use fresh tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, you don’t have to use as much sugar, because homegrown tomatoes tend to be a bit sweeter. This is the best spaghetti sauce recipe using the tomatoes that you canned earlier in the year.
Heat the oil on medium heat in a medium-sized pan. Add onions and peppers to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the canned tomatoes and remaining ingredients.
Bring the ingredients to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. Serve over spaghetti noodles. If you have leftovers, place the sauce in a Ziploc bag and freeze for later.
Canning Stewed Tomatoes
Stewed tomatoes are a great addition to numerous dishes, including chili, pasta dishes, and hearty winter stews. Instead of purchasing stewed tomatoes from the supermarket, use your overabundance of tomatoes and make canned stewed tomatoes to enjoy throughout the year.
Wash tomatoes and use a paring knife to score the bottom of the tomatoes with an “X.” Add tomatoes to a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Peel the tomatoes, then cut them into large chunks before placing them in a 4-quart pot.
Heat the olive oil in the skillet and add the garlic and basil. Cook the ingredients until the garlic is tender, about two minutes. Add green pepper and onion and saute for five minutes, until tender. Add the ingredients to the tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When you’ve finished cooking the tomatoes, pour them into the sterilized jars, making sure to leave ½ inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Set the lids on the jars and screw down the rings.
Put the jars in a big pot and add one inch of boiling water to the bottom. Process the jars for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, use a jar lifter to remove the jars from the pot. Place the hot jars on a heat resistant surface and screw the rings on tightly. Let the jars completely cool before you remove the rings and check the seal on the jars.
Make a Beef Stew Using Canned Stewed Tomatoes
After you’ve canned stewed tomatoes, enjoy them all winter long with this delicious tomato beef stew recipe. This recipe will keep you warm on winter nights, and you’re sure to be a bit regretful when you find an empty pot.
Mix salt, pepper, and flour in a resealable plastic bag. Add the stew meat to the bag and shake to coat the meat. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the beef and flour to the oil and cook until all the sides brown, approximately five to ten minutes.
Add the onions, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water, paprika, garlic, sugar, and bay leaves to the mixture. Turn the heat on high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let the stew simmer for an hour, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan every thirty minutes.
Add the carrots to the stew and cook for another 30 minutes. Put the potatoes in and cook until tender. Finally, add the mushrooms to the mix and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.
Fresh tomatoes can add a burst of flavor to any dish; however, the growing season only lasts a few months. To enjoy the taste of fresh tomatoes year-round, learn how to can tomatoes at home and enjoy all your favorite tomato recipes throughout the year.
While the process isn’t complicated, it does take some time, so plan an entire day for the procedure. Once you learn how to can your summer tomatoes, you’ll never purchase canned tomatoes from the store again.
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