Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Can Tomatoes

YUM: A blog about food
Published in Sun Valley Magazine

How to Can Tomatoes

Summer in a Jar

Sep 23, 2014 - 11:14 AM
How to Can Tomatoes
Four hundred tomato plants wreak a lot of havoc on my life. My husband owns Crazy Guy Tomatoes, an heirloom vegetable plant business, and we are constantly growing new varieties and breeding our own varieties of tomatoes.
We have hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of tomatoes at the end of the season. We share with our friends and neighbors, but we are left with a lot of tomatoes to process. Canning has been the easiest way to deal with all of the excess. It’s amazing to open a jar of summer in the dead of winter and cook a beautiful pasta sauce.
Canning generally scares people, but it’s really not difficult. You hear about botulism and other terrible canning results, but cleanliness and following canning instructions for your specific location make it pretty easy.
There are several methods to prepare your tomatoes for canning. In previous years, I have blanched and peeled tomatoes, but I am now using a food mill that I received as a wedding present. For milling, heat your tomatoes in a covered pot on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes release their juices. Run the tomatoes through the mill—it will remove the skins, bad spots, and seeds, creating a beautiful, smooth puree.
In a canner on the stove, boil quart jars to sterilize. In a separate, small pot, heat new lids until there are fish eyes, but not until there’s a rolling boil. You can’t reuse lids, but you can reuse jar rings.
Remove the jars from the canner. Use a canning funnel on top of the jar. Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice or citric acid, and then fill the jar with tomato puree. Measure ½ inch headspace, wipe off the rim, and add the lid and ring. Repeat. Fill the canner with full jars and boil according to USDA instructions for your altitude.
This sounds pretty easy, and it really is—however, it takes quite a long time. I carve out full days to can, but I usually get about 20 quarts in at a time.
Good luck, be safe, and enjoy the fruits of your labor all winter long!



At least 20 pounds of fresh, local tomatoes
Lemon Juice
Mason Jars (I use quarts for tomatoes), new lids, and jar rings
Canning Kit (jar lifter, funnel, head spacer, and lid magnet)
Remove tomato skins or mill tomatoes. Add to clean jar with two tablespoons of lemon juice. Leave ½ inch headspace. Wipe rim of jar clean. Add heated lid and and tighten ring on lid. Can according to USDA recommendations for your area.

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