Classic Canned Tomatoes

tomatoes.still life

Well, I thought we had an epic failure with tomatoes this year, but it turns out we will be OK—God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Small batch tomato canning is actually one of the easiest canning adventures for a beginner.  And, unlike those “foolproof” jams and jellies, you won’t need to worry about pectin and gelling or having to repurpose your jam into ice cream topping (aka:  “I meant to do it that way.”).

No matter how many or few tomatoes you have, the process is always the same.

When it is 15 degrees F outside, you will pop open a jar of summer and breathe in that red, tart, lemony goodness that is essentially tomato.

My favorite uses for classic canned tomatoes?  Sauce (of course), soups, but most favorite is simply whirring the toms in a blender and turning them into tomato juice or Whammo Tom Clammo.  Yum!


(small batch for 3 quarts)

  • 40 plum tomatoes (about 8 lbs)
  • Salt
  • True Lemon (or bottled lemon juice)

Method (for quarts)

  • Cut hatch marks into bottom of tomatoes with a sharp knife
  • Drop batches of toms into boiling water for up to 2 minutes so skins begin to release
  • Drain and remove skins (reserve skins for tomato dust)
  • Pack tomatoes into hot, sterilized jars
  • Make sure to pack them tightly
  • Remove air bubbles. (I like to use a chopstick)
  • Add 2 t salt to each jar
  • Add 2 True Lemon to each jar (or 2 T lemon juice)
  • Clean rims and put on warmed lids
  • Process in water bath canner for 45 85 minutes (adjust for altitude about 5 min additional for every 3,000 feet; so if you are between 0 and 3,000 feet, add 5 minutes).  I am at 2,200, so I processed mine for 50 90 minutes.  (NB:  thanks to Lonnie, a member of the Crazy Canners Facebook group I belong to, for pointing out this error so that I could correct it. Food safety is important.)

(And, yes, I will likely eat them anyway, as they are in a very cool (temp not style) basement, and I’ll eat them in the next week, given my addiction to Whamo-Tom-Clammo.  Older recipes used this shorter time, but they are not as safe–especially if you use large modern variety tomatoes that are lower acid.  I am using Amish paste heirlooms. . .  well that’s my rationalization. Next batch will get the full time!)

canning day
Tomatoes and green chile salsa along with my trusty 1960  Presto canning guide.

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