lots of tomatoes

Simple Tomato Canning

This year, our gardens produced an amazing amount of tomatoes in our new large raised garden beds.

After harvesting hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes, it was time to get to canning. I prefer to do simple tomato canning and leave seasoning, herbs, and other veggies for when I prepare a recipe. This year we have Brandywine, Green Zebra, and San Marzano tomatoes.

This is how I do the bulk of our tomato canning. All of these steps can be done at the same time. I would suggest starting everything and working as you go if you have a huge amount of tomatoes.

Getting Ready to Can Tomatoes

Some prep work is essential if you want to can a large amount of tomatoes. We begin by washing our pint jars and quart jars in the dishwasher with the sterilization setting (hot!). Basically you want to start out with clean jars.

bunch of tomatoes
Tomatoes on the counter

We use a large water bath canner for our canning. It takes a long time to heat up, so I use it to preheat our canning jars. Place your pints or quarts into the canner as it heats up on low to medium heat. I also have a smaller pot going to warm up the canning lids ahead of time.

Preparing Tomatoes for Canning

The next step to this method of tomato canning is to wash the tomatoes and remove their skins.

I did this by enlisting the help of my daughter. She would wash the tomatoes, and I would cut out their cores.  This is also the time to start a large pot of water boiling.

blanching tomatoes
Blanching tomatoes to remove skins

Cut a shallow X into each tomato to assist with removing the skins. Make sure each tomato is suitable for canning — remove any that have too much damage and use them for fresh tomatoes instead!

tomato skins removed
Tomato skins removed after blanching

Once your water is boiling, blanch each tomato for about one minute. Quickly remove them from the water.

Some people immediately put them in ice but we just removed skins as we went. Be careful as the tomatoes will be hot!

Cooking and Canning the Tomatoes

You can leave your tomatoes whole, cut them in halves, or quarter them when you cook them for canning.

For this batch of tomatoes, I quartered them and added them to a large pot after they were blanched. Once enough tomatoes are in your pot for a batch, cook them on a slow boil for about five minutes.

start of a batch of tomatoes for canning
Starting the batch of tomatoes

After the tomatoes are ready, remove a jar from your water bath canner and put enough citric acid in for your particular jar.

Based on the Ball recipe we use a 1/2 tsp for quart jars, or 1/4 tsp for a pint jar.

heating tomatoes for canning
Heating tomatoes for canning

Next, pack tomatoes into the jar, leaving a 1/2 inch of head-space in the jar. Remove any air bubbles and add tomatoes as needed.

Wipe the rim of your jar clean and then place a lid on the jar. Tighten the band finger tight and return to your canner.

cooling pint jars of canned tomatoes
Pint jars of tomatoes cooling

Once the canner is full, bring the canner to a rolling boil and process your tomatoes for the appropriate time. We use 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts.

You should adjust this time based on your altitude using a guide such as this one.

Once processing is done, remove the jars from the canner and let cool for 24 hours. Finally, check each lid to make sure there was a good seal. Your tomatoes are now ready to enjoy!

cooling canned tomatoes
Some more tomato pints and a quart cooling