How to Can Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes
The Spruce
Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Yield: 6 quarts
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
26 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 26
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 8mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 20mg 100%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 340mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These whole peeled tomatoes are what most people think of as canned tomatoes. They are quickly blanched in hot water, peeled, stuffed into jars, covered, and boiled to seal the jars. There's no point in sugar-coating it: The process takes some time and is a bit of a hassle. However, it doesn't require any special skills. Anyone with an excess of ripe tomatoes and the appropriate canning equipment can do it, and whole tomatoes are a perfect introduction to canning.

The tomatoes don't need to be boiled more than a minute before being peeled and going into the jars, so there's no real precooking involved. Salt is not required for this canned tomato recipe, although it can be added for taste if you like. And lemon juice helps keep the canned tomatoes from spoiling, so don't skip it.

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Click Play to See These Canned Tomatoes Come Together

"Canning whole tomatoes is perfect for beginners and this recipe will guide you through the basic process. It’s nice that a quick blanche is all that’s needed to prepare the tomatoes, so you can concentrate on the canning process. Overall, the recipe is good and walks you through the steps with ease." —Colleen Graham

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 15 pounds ripe whole Roma tomatoes

  • 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Canning whole tomatoes ingredients and tools
     The Spruce
  2. Bring a large pot or canning kettle full of water to a boil.

  3. As the water comes to a boil (which will take a while), use a sharp knife to cut a small "X" in the bottom of each tomato.

    Cut an "X" into bottoms of the tomatoes
     The Spruce
  4. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it near the pot.

  5. Once the water is boiling, add the tomatoes. Cook them for about a minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them directly into the ice water so they can cool quickly.

  6. As soon as the tomatoes have cooled off enough so that you can handle them easily, use a sharp paring knife to remove the tomato skins. After blanching, the skins should slip right off without too much fuss.

    Remove tomato skins
    The Spruce
  7. Gather 6 quart-size jars (with rings and new sealable lids). Bring the water back to a boil, put the jars in the canning rack, and boil the empty jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them.

  8. Remove the jars from the water (empty any water back into the pot and bring to a simmer).

  9. Put the lids in separately, also for 10 minutes, to soften the sealant.

  10. Put a tea kettle full of water on to boil.

  11. While the water is boiling, put 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice in each jar. Stuff the jars evenly with the tomatoes. If you don't care how "whole" they are in the end, really cram them in there, releasing the juices from some to create enough liquid to cover them. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water from the tea kettle, if needed, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jars.

    Place tomatoes in jars with water
     The Spruce
  12. After wiping the edges of the jars clean, place the lids and rims on the jars, set the jars in the canning rack, and lower them into the boiling water in the canning kettle or other large pot. The jars should be completely submerged and covered by 1 inch of water. Cook, with the water boiling the whole time, for 45 minutes, adding more hot water as necessary to maintain the water level.

  13. Remove cans from their water bath and set them on a counter to dry and cool. Do not disturb them for 12 to 24 hours. Check that the jars have properly sealed and store them in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

    Finished canned tomatoes
    The Spruce

Tips

  • It will take a long time for the water to come to a boil and will vary based on the stovetop. For safety, it’s important to monitor it so you can adjust the burner temperature as needed; this is not a project you can set and forget.
  • You can use other low-moisture tomatoes as well. You can use juicier heirloom varieties, but they won't hold their shape as well.
  • While in pretty much every other instance, fresh lemon juice is the way to go, when it comes to canning tomatoes, use bottled lemon juice. Bottled juice has a standardized, consistent acid level that helps keep the tomatoes from spoiling.
  • Also, note that sealable lids should not be reused, although jars and rings can be. Jars cannot be used for canning an infinite amount of times and will crack and bust if reused too often.
  • Most people discard the peeled skin of the tomatoes, but you can dry them out into "chips:" Place the skins on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake in a 200 F oven until crispy. It takes a few hours and is highly dependent on how humid the climate is, so check them every 30 minutes or so after the first 2 hours. They make a great snack.

Can You Leave the Skin on Tomatoes When Canning?

While you can leave the skin on tomatoes when canning, they can be tough and a bit bitter. You'll notice that commercially canned tomatoes are peeled for this reason. If the skin doesn't bother you, leave it on. Otherwise, quickly blanch the tomatoes and peel them before canning for a more pleasant experience.

Is Adjusting for Altitude Really That Important?

To ensure the canned tomatoes are safe for long-term storage, you need to adjust for altitude. For water bath canning, the canning time needs to be extended if you live higher than 1,000 feet above sea level. While altitude is often associated with mountainous regions, it can affect those who live in seemingly flat areas. In the U.S., check with your local county extension office for accurate elevation information and other canning tips.