Canning tomatoes is pretty easy and a great way to continue eating local and delicious tomatoes during the winter (I, myself, can’t stand the anemic, tasteless “tomatoes” imported during the winter. yuck). You can use pretty much any kind of tomato, although most instructions will tell you that plum tomatoes can the best.
- lemon juice
- water bath canner
- 2 large pots
- small pot
- large bowl with ice water
- canning utensils such as tongs to remove the jars out of the water bath and a funnel (it just makes life easier. Crate and Barrel has a box set for about $12)
- mason jars with lids and rings
First sterilize the jars by boiling in the water bath canner for at least 10 minutes. Heat the lids and rings in the small pot, but make sure not to bring to a boil. Fill one of the large pots with water and bring to a boil. This water will be used to fill the jars.
Prepare an ice bath in the bowl. Boil water in the large pot and blanch the washed tomatoes for about a minute each (The skins of the tomato tend to get tough if left on, so this will enable them to come easily off). Place immediately into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Once done with all of the tomatoes, remove the skins and any bruised spots, then cut into pieces that will fit in your jars.
Remove the sterilized jars from the water bath and place onto a wooden cutting board. Keep the water in the canner hot so that the contents of the jars will be the same temperature as the water bath and thus the jars won’t crack (plus you can reuse the water!). Add the tomatoes and lemon juice (1 tablespoon for each pint or 2 tablespoons for each quart jar) to the jars. Next fill them with the boiled water, leaving 1/2 inch from the top. Then take a wooden or plastic utensil and slide around the edges of the jars to release any air bubbles. Once the air bubbles are released, you will have to add a bit more water to each jar.
Next wipe clean the mouth of the jar and place the sterilized lids and rings on them. Screw the rings on securely, but not too tightly. Then place the jars in the water bath canner and boil for about 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts. Depending on your altitude you may have to boil them longer, but you can consult the chart from pickyourown.org here.
As you can tell from the picture, my tomatoes rose to the top of the jars, but this is normal. Tomatoes obviously have a lot of juice and if you don’t squeeze some out before placing them in the jars, or really pack them in, this happens.