Canning Whole Tomatoes

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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.

They are great for making pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and other sauces.

peeled whole tomatoes in a stock pot ready for canning whole with text overlay that reads How to Preserve Whole Tomatoes the Simple Way

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.

Canning List when making planting list for the spring garden with text overlay that reads Plan Your Canning List when Planning the Spring Planting Season.  Of course it includes canning whole tomatoes.
Make a list of the foods you plan to preserve at home for the season

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


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.

Peeled Roma Tomatoes in large pot with text overlay that reads 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”
whole canned tomatoes in quart jars sitting on the counter
Whole canned tomatoes always float to the top when canned

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

Yield: 9 Pints

Canning Whole Tomatoes The Easy Way

whole canned tomatoes in quart jars

Canning Whole Tomatoes is a perfect way of enjoying fresh tasting summer tomatoes all winter long!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 15 pounds Fresh Roma Tomatoes - Peeled
  • Pure Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Canning Salt (optional)


  1. Wash and sterilize jars. Heat lids.
  2. Wash, core and peel tomatoes
  3. Cover tomatoes with water in a large stock pot, bring to a boil. Boil for 5-7 minutes. Stirring to prevent sticking.
  4. Remove jars from boiling water, one at a time
  5. Add 2 TBSP Lemon juice to the bottom of each jar
  6. If using salt, add 1/2 tsp canning salt to each pint jar; quarts get 1 tsp (optional)
  7. Using jar funnel and ladle, fill hot jars to 1/2 inch headspace packing tomatoes tightly
  8. Ladle in hot liquid and completely cover tomatoes to 1/2 headspace - remove all air bubbles
  9. Wipe jar rim off with a clean damp cloth
  10. Using your magnetic lid lifter, place a lid and screw band on jar - tighten to "finger tight"
  11. Return filled jar back to water bath canner; do the same for remaining jars
  12. Lower rack into canner and cover filled jars by 1 inch of water. Put lid on canner.
  13. Process at a rapid boil: pints 40 minutes; quarts 45 minutes
  14. Once processed, remove lid and let set for 5 minutes, lift rack and let set another 5 minutes
  15. Use jar lifter, carefully remove hot jars and place on towel. Let sit undisturbed for 24 hrs. Test seals. Label and store.
quart jar of whole canned tomatoes with text overlay that reads Canning Whole Tomatoes Easy Recipe
stock pot full of whole peeled tomatoes ready for canning with text overlay that reads Canning Whole Tomatoes Simple & Easy Water Bath Method
The Complete Beginners Guide to Home Canning eBook ad. Shows an image of the eBook cover with text overlay that reads The Complete Beginners Guide to Home Canning  with an Instant Download Button.

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15 thoughts on “Canning Whole Tomatoes”

  1. The ingredients calls for canning salt but I can’t seem to see where in the recipe it said to add the salt. I’m sure I missed it but I only saw when to add the lemon concentrate.


    1. Hi Chris,

      Great catch! The salt is optional, and I used to leave it out of the recipe. But after several questions about it, I added it to the ingredients list but failed to tell you how to use it. So I’ve added the salt instructions, but it is optional. I do use it myself. We prefer the flavor.

    1. Hi Peter,

      I wouldn’t advise a fresh sprig of rosemary. But if you are wanting to use fresh herbs, you could add a 2-3 cloves of garlic and a few leaves of fresh basil and process them according to your altitude. Don’t forget the lemon juice.

  2. What about elevation? Does that not change the listed processing time of 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts you have in the instructions? I’m at about 330 feet so do I need to process for a longer or sorter time?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for noticing and reminding me that I failed to put an altitude chart in the recipe. I’ve made a note to fix this. For you, no, you don’t need to add anytime. The processing is the same for your altitude. The chart is to add 5 minutes for every 3000 feet about sea level. Your 330 feet stays the same.

    1. Hi James,

      You can double stack IF you have a canning rack, to safely hold the jars off the bottom of the pot AND once you double stack, the jars should be totally covered with water by 1 inch minimum. I, a lot of times, have more than one inch. These two things are very important to your tomatoes processing properly. I one or the other is not met, don’t do it.

      Happy Canning,

  3. i use regular tomatoes and do about the same method, but i let them boil down to there own juices flow then can them in there own juices, with a little canning salt and lemon juice there so delicious, thats the way my mom showed me when i was a teenager many years ago, then i make my sauces for whatever one i want .

    1. Hi Terry,

      Sure, any tomato can be canned. I’m just partial to Roma as they are super meaty and not a lot of juice. But yes, just follow the instructions step by step with your style and you’ll be fine. I’m excited you trying home canning. If I can help, feel free to reach out anytime. You can even email if you wish. I check message a couple times a day.

      Happy Canning,

  4. I’ve always been told you couldn’t can tomatoes once they were frozen. Are you sure about this?

    1. Hi Marcie,

      Great question and yes! I am totally sure about this. It is a great way to can tomatoes months after harvest. I actually have about 20 lbs left from last summer I will be using to make salsa in the next couple weeks when things slow down a bit. You will love it when you give it a try!

      Happy Canning,

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