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Canning Whole Tomatoes

A step-by-step tutorial on canning whole tomatoes. This easy to follow process is perfect for beginners and covers both water bath and pressure canning methods.

A jar of homecanned whole tomatoes in front of a strainer of tomatoes

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!

All of my canning life, when it comes to tomatoes, I have stuck with tomato puree (for making tomato soup) or simply canning diced tomatoes. And it has been fine. Then this past winter and spring when my mom was on a liquid diet, I was making a butt ton of creamy tomato soup. I was out of home canned tomato puree, so I turned to 28 oz cans of Muir Glen whole peeled tomatoes. And just like that, my tomato options opened wide and my head exploded with opportunities.

Those metal cans of whole tomatoes could be soup, they could be crushed into a sauce, or chopped to make diced tomatoes. There are no limits to whole tomatoes. And thus, I had to make them myself this summer. So I did. What do you think about that?

Canning Whole Tomatoes Equipment List

  • At least four large bowls. You can never have enough bowls when canning.
  • Large pot of water for blanching, and one small pot for sanitizing lids.
  • Canner: simple water bath canner, a pressure canner (which can double as a water bath canner), or even a huge stockpot with a rack in the bottom.
  • Canning tongs/jar lifter
  • Lid lifter (optional, but so helpful)
  • Jars – quarts or pints
  • Lids and rings
  • Widemouth funnel
  • Bottled lemon juice. Don’t use fresh.
  • Ice
  • Paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Metal spoon
  • Butter knife or plastic chopstick
  • Tomatoes. Duh. It is best to use tomatoes that are low moisture, like roma.
  • Comfortable shoes. Don’t do this barefoot. Your back will hate you.
  • Clean washcloths and at least one thick clean rag.

Canning Whole tomatoes

  1. Rinse your tomatoes in a strainer. It is best to use low-moisture tomatoes like romas.
  2. Using a paring knife, remove the stem/core from the tomatoes. Place the tomato in one of the large bowls. I like to core about 75% of them at all once before the next step.
    canning whole tomatoes

    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.

    canning whole tomatoes

  3. Start a large pot of water boiling. Place 10-15 tomatoes in at a time and allow them to parboil for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon when you see the skins starting to slip off. Transfer to a bowl full of ice water*. Repeat until all the tomatoes have been processed in this way.
    1. *Only allow the tomatoes to rest in the ice bath for about a minute. You don’t want to cool the temps on them too much. This isn’t Atomic Blonde, and those tomatoes are not the amazing Charlize Theron. I put them all in a large bowl until I am ready to peel them all at once.canning whole tomatoes
      canning whole tomatoes
  4. Remove the skins from the tomatoes. It should slip off pretty easily, but if some parts of the tomato weren’t under the boiling water, you may need to peel it with a paring knife. Some people recommend saving the skins to dehydrate and use for tomato powder. I’m not one of them. canning whole tomatoes

    canning whole tomatoes

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

  5. Once they are peeled you can chop the tomatoes in half or leave them whole.
  6. Place your lids in a small pot of boiling water. Allow to boil for at least 10 minutes to loosen the glue and sanitize the lids.
  7. In your hot and sanitized canning jars, add 2 tbsp of bottled lemon juice per quart or ½ tsp citric acid. For pints, add 1 tbsp or ¼ tsp of citric acid. Start filling the jars with the tomatoes, squishing them down a bit with a metal spoon as you go. Keep squishing until there is only ½ inch between the top of the tomatoes and the rim of the jar.
  8. Using something like a plastic chopstick, wiggle the tomatoes around to remove air bubbles that have collected in the jars. Squish the tomatoes back down again to regain the headspace.
  9. Using a clean, wet rag, wipe the rim of the jars to remove any residue that may have collected. canning whole tomatoes
  10. Place a lid on the jar. Add a ring, and tighten to a comfortable tightness. No need to Hulk it. Place your jars in the boiling water in the canner. canning whole tomatoes

    canning whole tomatoes

    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.

  11. If you are water bath canning, place the lid on the canner and process for 85 minutes. Ugh, it’s so long, I know.
  12. If you are using a pressure canner, pints and quarts are processed at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.
    1. Allow the vent pipe to process steam for 10 minutes.
      canning whole tomatoes
    2. Then place the cap on the vent pipe. The air vent should pop up soon after.
      canning whole tomatoes
      canning whole tomatoes
    3. Once the cap goes on, the pressure value will start to slowly climb. Once it reaches 11 pounds of pressure, you can reduce the heat a bit.

      canning whole tomatoes

      My gauge is off and my extension office told me to can things at .5-1 higher than a recipe requires.

    4. Set the timer for 25 minutes, and keep an eye on the dial to make sure the needle stays above 11.
    5. Once the jars have processed for 25 minutes, remove from heat. After processing tasks are essentially the reverse. The canner will naturally depressurize. You’ll know it’s done when the air vent plops down (it’s a very distinct sound). Remove the cap from the vent pipe and wait a few minutes.
      canning whole tomatoes
      canning whole tomatoes
    6. Remove the lid from the canner and wait five minutes. Using jar lifters, remove the jars from the canner and place them on a thick towel on the counter where they won’t be disturbed.
    7. Allow the jars to cool naturally. You’ll likely hear “pings” as the jars seal. It’s a great sound! Once cooled, label and store in a cool dark place for 12-18 months.

I have never hidden the fact that I dislike canning. I don’t enjoy it, but it is an important part of my family’s eating throughout the year, especially during the winter. Our garden barfs fresh produce from July until September, and things like canning whole tomatoes allow me to preserve that goodness in the form of low-cost wholesome food. It is what it is, but I still don’t like it. But opening up a jar of tomatoes in January is a special kind of reward for all your hard work at the end of summer.

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Canning Whole Tomatoes
Print
5 from 1 vote
Canning Whole Tomatoes
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

A step by step tutorial on how to can whole tomatoes.

Course: Canning
Cuisine: American
Keyword: canning whole tomatoes
Calories: 61 kcal
Author: Sarah
Ingredients
  • Tomatoes
  • bottled lemon juice
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 one of the large bowls. I like to core about 75% of them at all once.
  3. Start a large pot of water boiling. Place 10-15 tomatoes in at a time and allow them to parboil for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon when you see the skins starting to slip off. Transfer to a bowl full of ice water*. Repeat until all the tomatoes have been processed in this way.
  4. a. *Only allow the tomatoes to rest in the ice bath for about a minute. You don’t want to cool the temps on them too much. This isn’t Atomic Blonde, and those tomatoes are not the amazing Charlize Theron. I put them all in a large bowl until I am ready to peel them all at once.
  5. Remove the skins from the tomatoes. It should slip off pretty easily, but if some parts of the tomato weren’t under the boiling water, you may need to peel it with a paring knife. Some people recommend saving the skins to dehydrate and use for tomato powder. I’m not one of them.
  6. Once they are peeled you can chop the tomatoes in half or leave them whole.
  7. Place your lids in a small pot of boiling water. Allow to boil for at least 10 minutes to loosen the glue and sanitize the lids.
  8. In your hot and sanitized canning jars, add 2 tbsp of bottled lemon juice per quart or ½ tsp citric acid. For pints, add 1 tbsp or ¼ tsp of citric acid. Start filling the jars with the tomatoes, squishing them down a bit with a metal spoon as you go. Keep squishing until there is only ½ inch between the top of the tomatoes and the rim of the jar.
  9. Using something like a plastic chopstick, wiggle the tomatoes around to remove air bubbles that have collected in the jars. Squish the tomatoes back down again to regain the headspace.
  10. Using a clean, wet rag, wipe the rim of the jars to remove any residue that may have collected.
  11. Place a lid on the jar. Add a ring, and tighten to a comfortable tightness. No need to Hulk it. Place your jars in the boiling water in the canner.
  12. If you are water bath canning, place the lid on the canner and process for 85 minutes. Ugh, it’s so long, I know.
If you are using a pressure canner, pints and quarts are processed at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes. Read the instructions that come with your canner for how much water to place in there. Mine calls for three quarts.
  1. i. Allow the vent pipe to process steam for 10 minutes.
  2. ii. Then place the cap on the vent pipe. The air vent should pop up soon after.
  3. iii. Once the cap goes on, the pressure value will start to slowly climb. Once it reaches 11 pounds of pressure, you can reduce the heat a bit.

  4. iv. Set the timer for 25 minutes, and keep an eye on the dial to make sure the needle stays above 11.
  5. v. Once the jars have processed for 25 minutes, remove from heat. After processing tasks are essentially the reverse. The canner will naturally depressurize. You’ll know it’s done when the air vent plops down (it’s a very distinct sound). Remove the cap from the vent pipe and wait a few minutes.
  6. vi. Remove the lid from the canner and wait five minutes. Using jar lifters, remove the jars from the canner and place them on a thick towel on the counter where they won’t be disturbed.
  7. vii. Allow the jars to cool naturally. You’ll likely hear “pings” as the jars seal. It’s a great sound! Once cooled, label and store in a cool dark place for 12-18 months.

Recipe Notes

A good rule of thumb is that there are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes per quart.

Recipe only calls for an open-ended amount of tomatoes and lemon juice because you're really only limited by how many fresh tomatoes you have. 

Most canners will hold seven quarts at a time.

Nutrition Facts
Canning Whole Tomatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 61
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Psst. Psst! Want to learn more about canning tomatoes? Check out this post on canning diced tomatoes.

This post contains affiliate links and we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase. This allows me to continue to provide free content, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

A step-by-step tutorial on how to can whole tomatoes. This easy to follow process is perfect for beginners and covers both water bath and pressure canning methods. #sustainablecooks #canningtomatoes #waterbathcanning #pressurecanning #wholetomatoes #preservingtomatoes

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8 comments on “Canning Whole Tomatoes”

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

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

  4. love it!

  5. 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!