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Canning Whole Tomatoes {How to Can Tomatoes}

A step-by-step tutorial on Canning Whole Tomatoes. This easy to follow process is perfect for beginners and covers preserving tomatoes in both water bath and pressure canning methods. One of the easiest canning tomatoes recipes, you’ll love having jars of whole peeled tomatoes to use all year long.

three jars of whole peeled tomatoes with fresh tomatoes and herbs on a wooden board

Canning whole tomatoes. This is happening. Quick show of hands…how many of you are just dying to learn about canning whole tomatoes?

:counts raised hands:

Ok, wow, a total of three of you. Great showing today!

Whole peeled tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods you can have in your pantry. They’re great for making pasta sauce, to add to stews, and they are the shining star in my Whole30 Tomato Soup.

Canning tomatoes always feels like the end of summer canning season to me. While I’m busy with canning whole tomatoes, I’m also Canning Peaches, Dill Pickle Relish, and Blackberry Syrup.

Whole tomatoes are just one way to preserve tomatoes at home though. We’re also Canning Stewed Tomatoes and Canning Tomato Soup.

This recipe has waterbath or pressure canning instructions so you can choose the method that works best for you. It is a faster process in a pressure canner.

If you’re busting out the pressure canner, try your hand at canning carrots or canning pumpkin. Both recipes require a pressure canner.

CANNING Whole TOMATOES SUPPLIES & INGREDIENTS

Check out this in-depth post for a complete list of canning supplies.

You’ll need:

HOW MANY TOMATOES DO YOU NEED FOR CANNING?

This whole peeled tomatoes canning recipe will fill 7 quarts of tomatoes. For 7 quarts you will need about 21 pounds of fresh tomatoes. It works out to about 3 pounds of tomatoes per quart. A quart jar will replace the 28-48 oz cans from the grocery store.

If you are canning pints, you’ll need approximately 13 pounds for 9 pints. A pint jar will replace the 13-16 oz cans from the grocery store.

If purchasing tomatoes in bulk, a bushel weighs 53 pounds and will yield approximately 15-21 quarts of whole peeled tomatoes.

Pro tip: if you grow your own tomatoes and don’t have enough to can at once, you can freeze them on baking trays and then transfer to freezer bags (I love these reusable silicone bags).

You can add the tomatoes to the boiling water without thawing them first. 

WHY DO I NEED BOTTLED LEMON JUICE?

The lemon juice is needed to regulate the acidity of the tomatoes to keep the ph level consistent. Storebought lemon juice generally has the same level of acidity (5%) from bottle to bottle. You don’t get that guarantee with freshly squeezed lemons.

HOW LONG DO YOU PROCESS Whole TOMATOES IN A WATER BATH?

Whole peeled tomatoes need to be boiled for 85 minutes for pints and quarts. 

RAW PACK FOR CANNING Tomatoes

Raw packing tomatoes simply means placing the peeled tomatoes in the jars without precooking them, filling the jars with boiling water and processing them in the canner.

Raw packing tomatoes is much faster than then a hot pack process, but there are some drawbacks. No matter how well you pack the jars, the density of the tomatoes will change during their time in the canner.

This often leads to something called “fruit float” in which the tomatoes will float to the top of the jar, leaving water (we call it tomato pee) on the bottom. You’ll find this when you’re canning pears and canning peaches as well. There is nothing wrong with fruit float as long as your jars are still sealed.

HOT PACK FOR CANNING tomatoes

Hot packing tomatoes involves cooking them in boiling water for 5 minutes before packing them into jars for canning. 

The benefits of hot packing are that you typically can fit more tomatoes per jar, and the near elimination of fruit float.

Canning Whole tomatoes

*water bath canning instructions are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Rinse your tomatoes in a strainer. It is best to use low-moisture tomatoes like romas.

Using a paring knife, remove the stem/core from the tomatoes. Place the tomato in a large bowl. I like to core about 75% of them at all once before the next step.

a knife cutting into a tomato to remove the core

Don’t ever hold a knife like this. But it is necessary when trying to take a photo and you’re missing a third hand.

Prepare a large bowl with ice water.

Wash and clean your jars. It is no longer necessary to sterilize jars before canning (hurray!) but you should make sure they are preheated enough to not crack when placed in hot water.

You can put them in a clean dishwasher and run them through a quick wash cycle, or place them in a large pan with some water in a low heat oven (my lowest temp is 170 degrees) until you need them. I’ve even just put hot tap water in them before and left them on the counter.

Wash your lids with hot soapy water and place them in a clean bowl for now.

Add the tomatoes to a pot of boiling water and parboil them until you see the skins start to come off the tomatoes (about 1-2 minutes).

roma tomatoes in a saucepan

Use a slotted spoon and remove the tomatoes and place in the ice water.

tomatoes in a bowl of ice water

Working with the tomatoes one at a time, remove any skin that hasn’t already slipped off.

a bowl of tomatoes with the skin peeling off

a hand holding a peeled tomato

Holding the tomato awkwardly in your hand while you take a photo is key.

Once they are peeled, you can slice the tomatoes in half or leave them whole. The benefit of cutting them in half is that you can remove the seeds. The benefit of leaving them whole is it is easier and faster!

If you are hot packing your tomatoes, add them to a pot of boiling water and let them cook for 5 minutes.

Add 3 quarts of water to your pressure canner and put it on a burner set to high. Make sure there is a canning rack in the bottom of the canner.

Add lemon juice or citric acid to your canning jars (see recipe card below for exact measurements).

Using a canning funnel, ladle hot tomatoes in the jars. You really want to pack the tomatoes in there, so use a spoon to smoosh them down until they are covered in their own juices. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Headspace is the distance between the top of the food and the top of the jar. 

Using a long utensil (I prefer a plastic chopstick), remove all the air bubbles from the jar.

a jar of whole peeled tomatoes

Clean the rim of the jar very well with a hot damp rag. Any juice or bits of tomato left on the rim may impact the seal of the lid in the canner.

a washrag cleaning the rim of a canning jar full of tomatoes

Place a clean lid on the jar. Add a ring, and tighten to fingertip tight.

canning tongs lowering a jar of whole tomatoes into a canner

Making some “no no, it’s too hot, don’t put me in there” voices is optional when putting the jars in. Optional, but entertaining.

Using canning tongs, gently place the jars in the canner. Lock the lid. Soon, steam will start coming through the vent pipe (I call it the steam chimney). Allow the steam to pass through for about 10 minutes. Then put the pressure regulator (I call it the chimney cap) on top.

Pretty soon, the air vent will pop up. That is a sign that you’re starting to build pressure inside the canner (yay!). Under normal conditions, whole tomatoes in juice need to be pressure canned at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for both pints and quarts. See chart below for any changes to processing times.

a grid with canning times for whole tomatoes in a pressure canner

When the dial gauge reaches 11 pounds of pressure, reduce the burner temp to medium, and start your timer. The pressure must stay at 11 or (a little bit) above for the duration of the cooking time. You’ll likely need to adjust the temp on the burner a few times depending on your stove.

When the time is up, remove the canner from the burner and allow it to sit until you hear a distinctive “click” of the air vent dropping. Remove the pressure regulator and carefully remove the lid (Pro tip: I always use oven mitts when I take the lid off because the steam is super hot).

4 photos showing how to pressure can tomatoes step by step

Let the jars sit for 5 minutes in the canner and then lift them out with canning tongs. Place on a towel where they can sit undisturbed for 12 hours.

After a few hours, to check for sealing, gently press down in the middle of the lid. If the lid has no give, it’s sealed. If you can press the lid in and it pops a bit, your jars are not sealed.

You can reprocess them or store them in the fridge or freezer (only freeze jars that are wide mouth).

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes:

  • You can add salt to each jar prior to canning it. Use pickling salt and add 1/2 tsp per quart. Personally, I find unsalted whole peeled tomatoes easier to use in recipes because it allows me to control the overall sodium.
  • Pressure canners can often leave white lines on lids and rings. It’s totally normal and safe. To prevent this, add 1/3 cup of white vinegar to the canner before processing.

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three jars of whole peeled tomatoes with fresh tomatoes and herbs on a wooden board
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5 from 3 votes
Canning Whole Tomatoes {How to Can Tomatoes}
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

A step-by-step tutorial on Canning Whole Tomatoes. This easy to follow process covers preserving tomatoes in both water bath and pressure canning methods.

Course: Canning
Cuisine: American
Keyword: canning whole tomatoes
Servings: 7 quarts
Calories: 252 kcal
Ingredients
  • 21 lbs tomatoes
  • 14 tbsp bottled lemon juice (2 tbsp per quart)
Instructions
  1. Rinse your tomatoes. It is best to use a low-moisture tomato like romas.
  2. Using a paring knife, remove the stem/core from the tomatoes. Place in a large bowl. I like to core about 75% of them at all once.

  3. Prepare a large bowl with ice water.

  4. Wash and clean your jars. It is no longer necessary to sterilize jars before canning, but you should make sure they are preheated enough to not crack when placed in hot water.

  5. Wash your lids with hot soapy water and place them in a clean bowl for now.

  6. Add the tomatoes to a pot of boiling water and parboil them until you see the skins start to come off the tomatoes (about 1-2 minutes).

  7. Use a slotted spoon and remove the tomatoes and place in the ice water.

  8. Working with the tomatoes one at a time, remove any skin that hasn’t already slipped off.

  9. Once they are peeled you can slice the tomatoes in half or leave them whole. The benefit of cutting them in half is that you can remove the seeds. The benefit of leaving them whole is it is easier and faster!

  10. If you are hot packing your tomatoes add them to a pot of boiling water and let them cook for 5 minutes.

  11. Add 3 quarts of water to your pressure canner and put it on a burner set to high. Make sure there is a canning rack in the bottom of the canner.

  12. Add lemon juice or citric acid to your canning jars (see recipe card below for exact measurements).

  13. Using a canning funnel, ladle hot tomatoes in the jars. You really want to pack the tomatoes in there, so use a spoon to smoosh them down until they are covered in their own juices. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Headspace is the distance between the top of the food and the top of the jar. 

  14. Using a long utensil (I prefer a plastic chopstick), remove all the air bubbles from the jar.

  15. Clean the rim of the jar very well with a hot damp rag. Any juice or bits of tomato left on the rim may impact the seal of the lid in the canner.

  16. Place a clean new lid on the jar. Add a ring, and tighten to fingertip tight.

  17. Using canning tongs, gently place the jars in the canner. Lock the lid. Soon, steam will start coming through the vent pipe. Allow the steam to pass through for about 10 minutes. Then put the pressure regulator on top. (see photos in post above to see this in action)

  18. Pretty soon, the air vent will pop up. That is a sign that you’re starting to build pressure inside the canner. Whole tomatoes need to be pressure canned at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for both pints and quarts. 

  19. When the dial gauge reaches 11 pounds of pressure, reduce the burner temp to medium, and start your timer. The pressure must stay at 11 or (a little bit) above for the duration of the cooking time. You’ll likely need to adjust the temp on the burner a few times depending on your stove.

  20. When the time is up, remove the canner from the burner and allow it to sit until you hear a distinctive “click” of the air vent dropping. Remove the pressure regulator and carefully remove the lid (Pro tip: I always use oven mitts when I take the lid off because the steam is crazy hot).

  21. Let the jars sit for 5 minutes in the canner and then lift them out with canning tongs. Place on a towel where they can sit undisturbed for 12 hours.

  22. After a few hours, to check for sealing, gently press down in the middle of the lid. If the lid has no give, it’s sealed. If you can press the lid in and it pops a bit, your jars are not sealed. You can reprocess them or store them in the fridge or freezer (only freeze jars that are wide mouth).

Water Bath Canning Instructions
  1. Follow steps 1-10 above in the Pressure Canning Instructions.

  2. Prepare your water bath canner by filling it with water. You just need to have enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches once the water is boiling.

  3. Set the canner fitted with the lid on the stove. Turn the burner to high. Once it reaches a boil, reduce it to simmer. You want to keep the water hot so that everything is ready when the tomatoes are.

  4. Follow steps 12-16 above in the Pressure Canning Instructions

  5. Return the water in the canner to a rolling boil.

  6. Using canning tongs, carefully lower the jars into the boiling water and place the lid on and set your timer.

  7. Pints and quarts should process for 85 minutes. Pro tip: the water must return to a boil in the canner before you can start the timer.

  8. Once the tomatoes have processed for the appropriate amount of time, remove the canner from the burner, carefully take off the lid, and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Pro tip: I tend to just slide it into the middle of my stove, as it weighs a ton.

  9. Carefully remove the jars using canning tongs, and place them on a thick towel in a place where they can be undisturbed for 12 hours. The lids should start to pop within 20-30 minutes of being removed from the water.

Recipe Notes

Recipe cook times based instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Quarts: 2 tbsp lemon juice OR 1/2 tsp citric acid. Salt (optional) 1 tsp

Pints: 1 tbsp lemon juice OR 1/4 tsp citric acid. Salt (optional) 1/2 tsp

 

22 lbs tomatoes per 7 quarts, or 14 lbs tomatoes per 9 pints. About 3 lbs tomatoes per quart.

Store in a cool dark place for 9-12 months.

Nutrition Facts
Canning Whole Tomatoes {How to Can Tomatoes}
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 252 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 68mg3%
Potassium 3256mg93%
Carbohydrates 55g18%
Fiber 16g67%
Sugar 37g41%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 11335IU227%
Vitamin C 198mg240%
Calcium 138mg14%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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8 comments on “Canning Whole Tomatoes {How to Can Tomatoes}”

  1. I love canning tomatoes but this year I have an inch or so of water at the bottom of the jar.  This is frustrating since I squeeze out the liquid and remove bubbles before I put the tops on.  What am I doing wrong?

    • We call that “tomato pee” and it is totally normal and expected. The tomatoes are just releasing more juice then anyone can squeeze out of them. As long as your jars are sealed you’re totally fine!

  2. love it!

  3. I save all the skins etc and run them thru the Vita mix for sauce. I’m a fan of no waste!

  4. Have you tried a strawberry huller for removing the stems? I have one that looks like small metal tongs with sharp edges, that works really well on tomatoes… and saves time. Like for people who do not enjoy canning 😉

    I did can when I had more time at home, now I just bought a second freezer. (we never have power outages here, so that might not work in every area) but I very much can relate to the love of summer vegetables and fruit in winter!

    • Yes, I do have one. I find myself using the paring knife or the huller interchangeably most of the time. But I really love my paring knife and am pretty comfortable with it.

      What is your favorite thing to freeze/put up?

  5. Lol, no need to Hulk it. That’s actually been the question I always have- how tight do I tighten the rings? Thanks for an analogy I’ll remember!

    • “Finger tip tight”, is what you are looking for. You want the gasses to be able to escape from the jars when in the canner, but in general the lid needs to stay in contact with the jar.