I only started canning tomatoes several years ago. I had planted more tomatoes than we could eat that year, and I hated to see them go to waste. And I have a lot of Winter recipes that ask for canned tomatoes. Canning my tomatoes is a great way to save money, and have really delicious tomatoes (better than most canned tomatoes from the store.) Now I plant enough tomatoes for canning every year.
During the Winter, I use my canned tomatoes in soups, pasta sauce, and in my shepherd pie.
I can what would be considered a crushed tomato without added liquid. I use a hot pack method, meaning the tomatoes are hot going into the can. And to control the salt in my cooking, I don’t add any salt to my canned tomatoes.
Here’s how I can tomatoes:
1. Sterilize your jars by either running them in a dishwasher on sterilize setting or putting them in the boiling water canner and boiling for 10 minutes. Leave them in the dishwasher or hot water until you are ready for them. Put your lids into a sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes, but do not boil. Leave them in the pan until you are ready for them.
2. Start with ripe, firm, good quality tomatoes. Throw out any that are overripe or of bad quality. Wash your tomatoes. Then plunge them into boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds.
3. Remove them from the boiling water and place in an ice water bath.
4. Next slip the skins off. With a pairing knife remove the core and any small blemishes. Now cut them into quarters.
5. Next add about 1/6 of the tomatoes to your pan over medium high heat. I use a potato masher to speed the process and mash the tomatoes. Once they are hot and bubbly, I add the rest of the tomatoes.
6. Bring them to a boil then reduce to a simmer. I let them simmer for about 5 minutes.
7. Remove your hot jars from the dishwasher or hot water. Now add acid to your jars. For quart jars add either 1/4 cup white vinegar, or 2 tbsp. lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. citric acid for home canning. For pints use 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or 1/4 tsp. citric acid. (I use either the citric acid or the lemon juice. I think the vinegar changes the flavor of my tomatoes too much.) You can also add 1/2 tsp of salt (I don’t.) Now fill your jars with the hot tomatoes. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of jar.
8. Using a plastic knife, stir the jar to mix. Then run the knife around the jar to remove any air bubbles.
9. Using a clean damp cloth wipe around the rim of the jar to make sure it’s squeaky clean.
10. Center your lid and screw on the ring until it is finger tight.
11. Place jars into your warm, but not boiling water of your canner. Bring to a boil. Because I am at altitude, I process my cans for 55 minutes. Lower heat to a gentle boil and start counting processing time: 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts (at 1,000 to 3,000 feet, 40 minutes for pints, 50 minutes for quarts; at 3,000 to 6,000 feet, 45 minutes for pints, 55 minutes for quarts; above 6,000 feet, 50 minutes for pints, 60 minutes for quarts). Add more boiling water, if needed, to keep 1 inch of water above the jars.
12. Once your cans are done, remove to a clean towel, leaving 1 inch space between each jar, and let cool for 24 hours. Remove the ring and check the seals. The lid should be concave and firm. Wash your jars, label with date and store.
Also here’s great tip for cleaning your canner and rack when you are done: Pour in a cup of white vinegar and it will remove all the hard water deposits and come out very clean.