How to Can Tomatoes

One of our favorite things about our new house is our giant garden. Casey really loves to work in it, and I really love the stuff we get from it. My all time favorite is tomatoes. I grew up with tomato sandwiches and my sister and I used to eat them like they were apples, with salt, of course. Our town is even famous for our tomatoes. Our annual town get-together is called “tomato days”.

Since Casey has done such a great job with our garden this year, we’ve got tomatoes coming out of our ears! So I got busy and today, I want to  show you how to can tomatoes.

how to can tomatoes

Side note: Do any of you wish we lived in the “I love Lucy” days, where “housewives” wore aprons and scarves in their hair, and doing things like bottling tomatoes was an everyday thing? Yeah, I totally wish I lived in those days. Except with dishwashers and washing machines and my Dyson vacuum.


Would you like to bottle your own tomatoes? Here’s how:

Start by boiling a large pot of water.

Stick your tomatoes into the boiling water for about a minute or two. The riper they are, the less time they need in the water. You aren’t trying to cook the tomatoes, you are just making them easy to peel.

 After they take a bath in the boiling water, transfer them to a cool water bath. I just fill up one side of my sink with ice-cold water, and let them sit in there for a minute to stop the heat from cooking them.

Take a knife and core the tomato.

 Then skin the tomato. If you did it right, the skin should just slip right off.

 And then quarter the tomato.

Fill up your quart jars with the quartered tomatoes. Squish them in there until it’s full to the neck of the jar. You can use wide-mouth jars if you have them, but I just use regular quart jars because they are cheaper.

Once you’ve got all of your jars full of tomatoes, add water to the neck of the jar- just where the curve is. Also add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.

Wipe off the mouth of the jar and put on your lid and ring.

Place your filled and sealed jars into a giant pot of boiling water. The water should be over the top of the jars. Boil for 45 minutes.

Once you’ve boiled your jars, let them sit on the counter for 24 hours. Then check and make sure the tops have popped. That’s how you’ll know they’re sealed.

Make sure you date your lids so you know what year they were preserved. And enjoy your tomatoes all year long!

You will want to store your tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct light. I have mine on a shelf in my pantry- but not the top shelf where the light shines on them. They should last you a few years, if your family doesn’t gobble them up as fast as mine does!

I love to use bottled tomatoes for salsa, spaghetti sauce, and soups.

If you want to try your hand at canning salsa, check out this post for my most favorite salsa recipe EVER!! Or, check out my tutorial for how to can peaches.



  1. Juanita says

    BTW: Love your sink! I agree with most posts, don’t add water or sugar. Tomatoes in their own juice, and salt only. But instead of packing in the jars and then the water bath boil; for years I have placed the quartered tomatoes in a large heavy stock pot, heat till boiling place the hot tomatoes in jars, wipe off top of jars, place heated lids on jars -wipe away water carefully, screw on rings finger – tight and flip jars upside down on your counter until completely cooled. Then flip the jars upright, they will almost immediately ‘pop’ indicated that they are sealed. This is a nice way to do it if you only have enough tomatoes for 1 or 2 jars versus a whole canner full. No tomatoes left ‘un-canned’! Thank you for sharing your posts!

  2. Vern says

    Great information!

    Denise, yes, always sterilze your jars to keep you and your family safe…also get a blue ball book for camning. And
    check out the usda canning link for safe recipes!

  3. Anonymous says

    I canned tomatoes the way my mom and grandma did , no water or sugar. Fill it to the neck add salt and seal. Salt is a preservative and helps prevent a ruined batch and Bacteria grows in sugar.

  4. patricia middleton says

    According to university extension canning guidelines, blanching is 30 seconds. I place my quartered tomatoes into a large container to capture the juices and use the juice to top off the jar rather than use water. I also use any excess juice in a chilli or soup recipe prepared within a few days of canning. The skins are composted. Nothing is wasted. The flavor of home canned fresh tomatoes is far better than store bought.

    • Anonymous says

      You don’t need to add sugar, vinegar or anything else. Just peel, core and stuff them in a jar. You can then mash them down to get the juice and add more tomatoes. Wipe the rim of the jar, cap it and do a hot water bath for 30 min for pints and 40-45 min for quarts.

    • Emily says

      The Extension Service also makes a big deal about acidifying the tomatoes. The acid (bottled lemon juice) is an extra measure to prevent spoilage. Salt is for flavor, not preservation, when canning tomatoes. Sugar also adds flavor. I know this because I’m a Master Food Preserver, certified through OR State University Extension.

  5. Patsy Johnson says

    You need to use boiling water to fill the jars. Also add vinegar or lemon juice to increase acidity if you are using a water bath scanner. If pressure cooking your jars, you can omit the lemon juice or vinegar. You need to buy a ball canning book every few years to keep up on the latest information on safe canning.

    • Denise says

      I want to start canning, BUT I’m nervous !!! I want to do it RIGHT ! Are you suppose to sterilize your jars first ? I remember my Aunt doing this ??? HELP


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