Hidden Springs Homestead may earn a commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page. Learn More.
By canning whole tomatoes, you can enjoy the garden-fresh flavor of fresh tomatoes all winter long. Just think about it… the flavor of sun-ripened tomatoes all winter!
Whole canned tomatoes can be added to any dish for flavor and color, so canning them is a priority here in our little part of the world, so we grow a lot of them!
We are blessed to have raised beds in our front yard, most of which are dedicated to growing tomatoes. My favorite is vine-ripened, thick-fleshed Roma tomatoes.
Every year, when planning the garden, I make a list of the vegetables I need to grow to restock the pantry, and I’ll say most of them are filled with tomatoes. These sweet red things are always at the top of the list.
Not only do I can them whole, but I also use them for canning salsa, stewed tomatoes, sauces, juice, sun-dried tomatoes, and more. Tomatoes are like a staple on our homestead.
If mother nature continues to be kind with good weather – it’s about to get really busy here. When working in the garden this morning, I noticed I’m going to have a bumper crop of tomatoes!
Roma tomatoes are a determinate variety, which means that once they begin to ripen, they will all ripen at about the same time and the window to save them is not very long. Of course, I’ll be able to put them in the freezer to keep until I have a convenient time for canning them.
So soon, I will be going into a marathon of preserving the bounty and getting them into jars as quickly as possible, which makes me all “giddy” inside thinking about it!
Canning whole tomatoes is a great way to preserve them all winter long. And, of course, they can be added to homemade stews, soups, scrumptious comfort foods, and more.
Is Lemon Juice necessary for Canning Tomatoes?
Canning is a wonderful way of preserving food in a jar, but it must be done correctly.
Since tomatoes are now considered a borderline high-acid food, it is necessary to add lemon juice concentrate to each jar before canning them in a water-bath method. It is not recommended to use lemon juice or freshly squeezed lemons. You will need to purchase a lemon juice “concentrate.”
A great place to look for all the canning and food safety guidelines is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Their site is a wonderful asset if you are new to canning.
You can also get a copy of my free Canning Guide for Beginners too, which will help with the experience of learning the basics of canning.
How do you preserve whole tomatoes? Canning whole tomatoes using a water bath method is not difficult by following just a few simple steps. These will make the process easier and safer. Let’s get started….
RELATED: Use “The Complete Beginners Guide To Home Canning” and get comfortable with home canning.
Canning Whole Tomatoes – Step By Step
Equipment Needed for Canning Whole Tomatoes
- 10 – 1 pint Mason Jars or 5 – 1 quart jars
- Jar Lids and Screw Bands
- Water Bath Canner
- Canning Kit that includes a jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, and bubble remover
Step 1: Prepare Canning Jars & Lids
Sterilize canning Jars
- Since we are using a water bath method, canning jars do need to be sterile.
- Place jars into your water bath canner, fill jars and canner with water to completely submerge jars, and bring to a rapid boil. Boil jars for a minimum of 10 minutes.
- Carefully move the water-bath canner from the stove eye – leave jars in the water until you are ready to fill them.
- Jar lids do need to be heated, but NOT boiling. Keep them in warm water until ready to use them.
- Bands should be washed well in warm soapy water.
Related: Learn the complete process to sterilize jars.
Step 2: How to Prep Tomatoes for Canning
There are a couple of different ways to peel a tomato. You can either boil them and remove the skin, or they can be frozen and peeled when you are ready to preserve them. I’m often asked the question, “Can you freeze tomatoes to can later?” The answer is YES!!
How to Peel Tomatoes Using the Freezing Method
I don’t bother washing or anything. I place them in 1 gallon Ziploc bags or recycled 1/2 gallon ice cream buckets. Whatever I have on hand. And put them into the freezer until I have a more convenient time to for canning tomatoes.
When I’m ready to can them, I take them out of the freezer, pour them into the sink filled with warm water, cut off the stem end and squeeze from the other end. The peel “pops” right off. They are now ready for canning.
This great tutorial to peel frozen tomatoes. Easy-peasy right? I use this method all the time. The boiling method – is really painful on your fingers.
How to Peel Tomatoes with The boiling Method
Fill a large pot with water and place it on the stove to boil. Score the end of each tomato. Once water is at a rapid boil, using a slotted spoon or spider strainer – dip a clean tomato into the water (3-4 times or more) until the skin begins to slip away.
Immediately remove from boiling water and place into a prepared ice water bath to cool. The skin will slip right off.
Toss peeled tomatoes into a large bowl to await stem removal. Once all peels are removed, remove the stem and tough core area inside the tomato using a small knife. Now you are ready to start canning whole tomatoes.
I’d recommend you try both peeling methods and decide what is best for you. I’ll still use the boil method when necessary, but I freeze more often. Old habits are hard to break, and it keeps memories of home fresh in my mind…
Step 3: Blanching tomatoes for Canning Whole Tomatoes
Do you have to blanch tomatoes before canning? I do. The NCFHCP says that blanching is not necessary. But my canning whole tomatoes recipe is done using the “hot pack method,” and I choose to cook or blanch them before putting them into canning jars. Here’s how….
- Place prepped tomatoes into a large saucepan and cover with just enough water to lightly cover them. I use a 20-quart stock pot.
- Bring tomatoes to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Boil for about 5 -7 minutes, stirring often to keep them from sticking
Step 4: Hot Packing Jars for Canning Whole Tomatoes
How do you preserve tomatoes in a jar? It’s actually an easy-to-follow process. Are you ready?
- Add to the bottom of the jar in hot jars: pint – 1 Tbsp, quart – 2 Tbsp of Pure Lemon Juice Concentrate
- Add ½ teaspoon salt to pint jars and 1 teaspoon salt to quart jars, (optional)
- Using a ladle or large spoon, carefully fill jars with hot tomatoes, packing tightly, ladle in water, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles using your bubble remover (there will be several, and all need to be removed)
- Clean jar rim with a clean damp cloth
- Place hot lid and screw band on jar “finger tight”
Step 5: Processing Canned Whole Tomatoes
How long do you boil tomatoes when canning?
- Fill jars and place in canning rack of water bath canner
- Lower rack into hot water and make sure to cover jars with 1 inch of water
- Process pint jars for 40 minutes or quart jars for 45 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and carefully remove the lid. Let jars sit for 5 minutes in water.
- Using a jar lifter, remove jars from the canner and place them on a towel on the counter
- Leave undisturbed for 12 – 24 hrs.
- Test seals after time has expired, label and store
Keep in mind, too; whole canned tomatoes will float to the top of the jar. It might not be “pretty,” but there’s no way around it. These tomatoes are canned in their own juices and naturally float to the top. Of course, the taste of them is still delicious.
So there you have it. Learning how to can tomatoes is simple – right? You’ve just learned how to can whole tomatoes. See, it is not as difficult as you thought it would be.
So tell me, when will you be canning whole tomatoes for your family?
More Canning Recipes
- Water Bath Canning Problems and Solutions
- Dill Pickles Homemade Recipe
- How to Can Beets
- How to Make Sauerkraut
- 15 pounds Fresh Roma Tomatoes - Peeled
- Pure Lemon Juice Concentrate
- Canning Salt (optional)
- Wash and sterilize jars. Heat lids.
- Wash, core and peel tomatoes
- Cover tomatoes with water in a large stock pot, bring to a boil. Boil for 5-7 minutes. Stirring to prevent sticking.
- Remove jars from boiling water, one at a time
- Add 2 TBSP Lemon juice to the bottom of each jar
- If using salt, add 1/2 tsp canning salt to each pint jar; quarts get 1 tsp (optional)
- Using jar funnel and ladle, fill hot jars to 1/2 inch headspace packing tomatoes tightly
- Ladle in hot liquid and completely cover tomatoes to 1/2 headspace - remove all air bubbles
- Wipe jar rim off with a clean damp cloth
- Using your magnetic lid lifter, place a lid and screw band on jar - tighten to "finger tight"
- Return filled jar back to water bath canner; do the same for remaining jars
- Lower rack into canner and cover filled jars by 1 inch of water. Put lid on canner.
- Process at a rapid boil: pints 40 minutes; quarts 45 minutes
- Once processed, remove lid and let set for 5 minutes, lift rack and let set another 5 minutes
- Use jar lifter, carefully remove hot jars and place on towel. Let sit undisturbed for 24 hrs. Test seals. Label and store.