We planted plenty of extra tomato plants this year with high hopes of having a bumper crop to can. We’re excited to have a pretty good harvest, even though we didn’t have quite as much luck as we did with cucumbers (we ended up with quite a few beautiful jars of bread and butter pickles and pickle relish!) Between our garden and our local farm who has so kindly given us extra canning tomatoes in our weekly CSA share, we’ve been canning enough jars of diced tomatoes to last through the winter.
All it takes is about 12 pounds of tomatoes to make 6 pint jars of diced or crushed tomatoes. If you don’t have enough tomatoes in your garden to can, we would suggest checking with local farmers at your farmer’s market because often times they will sell bulk amounts of tomatoes at a discounted price. The best tomatoes for making canned diced or crushed tomatoes are very meaty and flavorful. A few examples to mention are Opalka, Classica and La Roma. As you can see, our organically grown tomatoes have imperfections on the skin. The tomatoes are perfectly fine, and when the skin comes off, you can’t tell that there were blemishes. It’s important, however, to remove any rotted darkened areas from the meat of the tomatoes before canning them.
Since tomatoes ripen all at once, canning needs to be done pretty quickly. I’m not going to sugarcoat…it’s a lot of work to do a large amount of jars, but it’s incredibly worth it to open up that summer goodness in the middle of the winter! Homemade canned tomatoes are so much healthier than store-bought because you can make sure they don’t contain any additives, and the glass jars are also safer than cans because they don’t leach chemicals. (Ball® Brand now makes BPA-free lids for their jars.)
This is the tried and true water bath method of canning diced or crushed tomatoes. The preparation takes a little bit of time, but grab a couple of friends and some good snacks and wine, and I promise you’ll have a blast canning your tomatoes and making memories!
This is the way my grandmother always used to can her tomatoes, and also the way my mom has taught me. There’s an extra ingredient to increase the richness of the diced tomatoes. These homemade diced or crushed tomatoes are extra-wonderful in chili, soups, pasta dishes, and pretty much any recipe that calls for them, really! Words can’t describe how much better homemade canned tomatoes taste than store-bought ones.
If you’re new to the water bath canning method, here’s a list of the canning supplies you’ll need:
- Water bath canner with rack
- Canning tools (tongs, magnetic lid lifter, funnel, air bubble spatula)
- Wide mouth 16 oz. (pint) canning jars
- BPA-free jar lids (new Ball® brand lids are BPA-free)
- Candy thermometer
Are you canning tomatoes this year? How many jars would you like to make for the winter?
- 12 pounds of organic tomatoes, peeled
- 6 tablespoons organic lemon juice
- 2 cups organic tomato juice (optional)
- Wash and dry 6 canning jars.
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Place jars on a baking sheet and bake in oven for at least 20 minutes to sterilize.
- Fill a small saucepan with water and add jar lids and rings. Place on the stovetop over low to medium heat and bring water to 180 degrees F. A candy thermometer works best to watch the temperature.
- To peel the tomatoes by blanching, first cut an "x" on the bottom of each tomato.
- Place tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water for 45 seconds. Promptly remove tomatoes from boiling water and add to a large bowl of ice water. Let stand in ice water for 3 minutes. Remove from water and place tomatoes on a clean surface.
- After blanching, the tomato skins will come right off when you peel them by hand.
- Dice the tomatoes into 1/2" to 1" pieces. Cut off any discolored/rotted spots. Add the pieces to a colander and squeeze some of the liquid out.
- Add tomatoes to a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. Add tomato juice if using. Simmer for at least 15 minutes. The longer the tomatoes simmer, the thicker the consistency. Note: For a more crushed tomato consistency, use a wooden spoon to gently crush the tomatoes while they are simmering.
- Remove jars from the oven and set on a towel. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar. Ladle the tomatoes into the jars, leaving a 1/2" space at the top.
- Slide a flat spatula around the edges of the filled jars to remove air bubbles.
- Using a damp washcloth, thoroughly wipe the tops of the jars clean (this helps the lids seal.)
- Using a magnetic lid lifter, lift lids and rings one by one out of the saucepan of water. Set lids on top of jars and finger-tighten rings (do not over-tighten or lids will not seal properly.)
- Add jars to the water bath rack and lower into the boiling water. There should be about 1" of water covering the jars. If there is too much, remove some with a ladle. Cover with lid.
- Process for 40 minutes, then lift jars out using tongs. Set them on a clean towel to cool. Lids will be slightly concave (curving down in the center) when they are sealed.