How to Can Tomatoes

I’m excited to show you guys how to can tomatoes. This is a process passed down from several generations. 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


 1. Boil a large pot of water.

I use an 8 quart stock pot. You can buy them for pretty cheap. I got this one for about $20 on Amazon. 

2. Prepare Jars

While your water is heating up, get your jars out and start sanitizing them. There are several ways to do this. I have found it’s easiest just to stick them in my dishwasher and push the sanitize button. Or if you don’t have a sanitize button, just run them through a really hot rinse cycle.

3. Blanch Tomatoes

Place your tomatoes into the boiling water for about a minute. Make sure the water is boiling. The riper your tomatoes are, the less time they need in the water. I’ve found that about 60- 90 seconds is usually just about right. 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 cold water and ice, and let them sit in there to stop the heat from cooking them.

4. Core Tomatoes

Take a knife and core the tomato.


5. Peal Tomatoes

After you’ve cored the tomato, you’ll skin the tomato. Since we blanched them, the skin should just slip right off. You might need to help it out a little bit with your knife.


6. Quarter Tomatoes

 Cut your tomatoes into quarters, or smaller. It’s up to you.

7. Fill Jars

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. You might want to use a jar funnel to help keep your jars clean.

8. Add water

Once you’ve got all of your jars full of tomatoes, add a teaspoon of bottled lemon juice (like ReaLemon). The lemon juice adds acidity, which is needed for preserving. Then fill with water to the neck of the jar- just where the curve is. You can also add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar, if desired. The sugar and salt are for taste only. 

You want to make sure most of the air bubbles are out of your jar. I usually run a butter knife around the inside of the jar to help the air bubbles float to the top.

10. Process jars

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

Place your filled jars into a giant pot of boiling water. The water should be over the top of the jars by an inch or two. Boil for 45 minutes. I use this pot and it’s my very favorite ever! It has a rack so I can lift the jars out without burning my hands. I also have this canning kit, and it is SUPER helpful.  If you don’t want to buy the whole kit, you’ll at least want a jar lifter and a jar funnel.

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. If they don’t pop, you are good! If the top pops up when you push on it, you’ll need to replace the lid and boil the jar again.

After your bottles are sealed, make sure you date your lids so you know what year they were preserved. And enjoy your tomatoes all year long!

11. Store

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 hope you enjoyed this tutorial for how to can tomatoes. I love to use bottled tomatoes for salsa, spaghetti sauce, and soups.

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

Thanks for reading my tutorial for how to can tomatoes. If you liked this post, you might also like these canning posts:

Salsa Recipe for Canning


How to can peaches


  1. Not everyone has a an electric dishwasher. We still wash by hand. I just thoroughly wash my jars. Then rinse with boiling water, like my Mom used to do; pack my tomatoes, add salt and lemon juice. Then either water bath or oven can the tomatoes. Depending on the number of jars.

  2. 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!

    1. Tomatoes need to be water bath canned to properly avoid the growth of botulism. Turning them upside down may get them to seal, but it is not an acceptable method for canning tomatoes.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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

      1. Yes always sterilize your jars. Some people do this in their dishwasher others sterilize them in boiling water with a bit of vinegar (helps to keep the jars cleaner looking and water speckle free

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