How to Can Tomatoes: One Family’s Tradition
My IRL (in-real-life) friend Allie who also blogs (and cans) sent me this post about how she gets it done. I am also using my affiliate links in this post. Allie shares…
Some people thrive on planting, growing, and harvesting the bounty of a garden. I am not really one of those people. Now, let me explain!
I don’t like dirt; therefore my husband does all the gardening for our house. When it is time for harvest, he brings me literally laundry baskets full of produce. I am always thankful for a husband that plants, and the God who gives the increase. But it literally stresses me out! All these little red time bombs, ready to turn to mush and attract hoards of fruit flies to my kitchen! Yikes!
So very quickly I find ways to preserve the freshness of late summer so that long into winter and spring we can enjoy our produce. Today we will focus on tomatoes, though canning goes far beyond what I am going to show you today. If you are interested in more canning information I would suggest the Ball ® Blue Book; it’s the best book out there. Mine is dog-eared and covered in spatters.
Canning tools you will need:
Besides my pile of clean tomatoes I use:
- two bowls (one for scrap and one for tomatoes ready to go in the boiling water)
- a wide 2” deep skillet with ¾” – 1” of boiling water
- a deep cookie sheet with a cooling rack on top
- Also I have washed and sanitized my jars (with a trip through the dish washer). Please note that jars and rings can be re-used if they are in good shape, lids may only be used once.
Step 1: Prepping your Tomatoes
When you get a big pile of tomatoes (mine are mostly roma, but it would work for any variety) wash them and set them on a towel to dry, remove any with blemishes or rotten spots (save those for another use).
Step 2: Set up
Find your widest skillet (mine is 12”) and fill it with ¾” – 1” of water and get it boiling.
Get two bowls ready, one for scraps and one for tomatoes that are ready to go in the water. Now you need to cut just the stem spot out, getting any green or white parts out of the top of the tomato. Throw the stem in the scrap bowl and the tomato in the other bowl. Once your bowl is pretty full, you can move onto the next step.
Once your water is boiling, place the tomatoes (with stem area removed) into the water, fill up the skillet, but don’t over crowd it. I use tongs to roll the tomatoes around a bit, getting each side in the hot water. You will know when they are done when the crack down the side.
Step 3: Crack and Peel
Once they crack, I pull them out of the hot water with the tongs and set them on the cooling rack. Once I have a few there, and they have cooled off just a bit, I use the tongs (and sometimes my fingers) to pull off the peel. The peels go in the scrap bowl. Be careful! They are SUPER hot! If your skillet runs low on water, just pour some more in to get it up to ¾”-1”, I usually have to do this several times during a large batch.
Step 4: Fill your Jars
Once the tomatoes are peeled, you can drop them into the clean jars. Once your jar is pretty full (leave 1” empty space at the top, called headspace) you can set it aside and keep on filling jars. I keep setting the full jars aside until I am all out of tomatoes.
Step 5: Canner Bath
Once your skillet is empty, get your water bath canner filled up with hot water and on its way to boiling.
Step 6: Add the Salt
After all my jars are filled, I add the salt: 1 ½ teaspoons for pints and 1 tablespoon for quarts. I use regular table salt.
Step 7: (VERY IMPORTANT)
Take a clean, white paper towel and dampen it, then go around each and every rim of the jars to make sure they are squeaky clean. When you get your paper towel dirty, swap it out for a clean one. If your jars have tomato gunk on the rim, they won’t seal correctly. Then you can put your lids in some hot water (to soften the adhesive) and place each one carefully on a jar, then tighten down the ring gently.
Step 8: Processing
Once the water is boiling, you can gently place your jars down in the hot water. I don’t mix sizes, and my quarts spend 20 minute and pints 15 minutes. This is called “processing.”
Step 9: Listen for the Pop!
When the jars come out of the hot water, I place them on a bath towel on my counter, then fold the end of the towel over the top of the jars, this slows down the cooling process, it helps them get a better seal, and is easier on the glass jars. You will hear a “pop” as the lids suck down, we all cheer every time we hear it! If the lid doesn’t suck down, the jar didn’t seal, it is safe to put in the refrigerator and use for a few days, but not safe to keep on a shelf for months.
You may notice that some of my jars have green stuff in them! These are a special experiment I tried last year, and it worked out great, and I have expanded it this year! In each pint jar, I added a clove of peeled, halved garlic and two leaves of basil. Both the basil and garlic are from our garden, but store bought would work just fine. I filled the rest of the jar with tomatoes and processed it just like the others. In January, when I am at homeschool co-op all day, I can dump one jar with basil & garlic and one plain quart in my crock pot, run my immersion or stick blender through the tomatoes and put in a bag of meatballs. Let that cook all day and it is a no-fuss delicious dinner my whole family enjoys!
As for your scrap bowl, if you compost that is a great place to dump it. At my house, we have little critters that enjoy a treat!
Please remember, there are several different methods to do canning, some use a pressure cooker, others heat the jars, this is the way I was taught by my sister in law, who was taught by her grandmother, who it has been pass down through the generations.
TIP! – Make sure you inspect your jars for fuzzy mold before you open them, I have never had a jar of tomatoes go bad, but I have occasionally had one with applesauce grow fuzz. We throw those out right away and we have never gotten sick from anything canned at home. Just use common sense!
Allie Werstler is a Bible-believing Christian, wife, and mom of two, five-year-old Ray and three-year-old Kylie. She loves electronic hoarding (Pinterest) and she blogs all things Giant Eagle at www.couponinginbirdland.com. Follow her blog on Facebook!
*I have used my affiliate links in this post.