Home Canned Tomatoes

There’s nothing like being able to reach for a jar of home canned tomatoes from your own cupboard on a wintry day when you want to make chili or spaghetti. Years ago I did quite a bit of canning as I didn’t have a freezer and I wanted to make good use of my small garden’s harvest and the vegetables and fruits that neighbors shared. Seasons of life and circumstances changed and I let the canning fall by the wayside. However, when doing some cleaning in my garage this spring, I found a box of canning jars from days gone by. Instead of throwing them out, I said, ‘I may need these this summer.’ Sure enough I am going to use them.
This year I experimented by planting tomatoes in 15 gallon black nursery containers in April and growing them in the greenhouse, fertilizing regularly. Results…jungle plants! And as a by-product, lots of tomatoes. So my friend, Rena, and I will try our hand at canning some this week
Tomato VinesTomatoes In Basket


I’ll share how I plan on canning tomatoes. First we will wash them, making sure we have selected nice ripe ones. Then we will pour boiling water over them to scald the skins so we can remove them easily. I plan on using the water bath canning method and cold-packing the tomatoes. To do this, we will wash the wide mouth jars in hot soapy water and rinse well, making sure none are cracked. While we do this part of the job, the water bath canner with will be heating up on the stove to hot, not boiling. The jar lids and rings must be hot so we will put them in a saucepan with boiling water poured over them. Then we will press whole tomatoes tightly into jars leaving ½” headspace and making sure there are no air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula down the side of the jar. The seals will be adjusted; the jars placed on the canner rack and submerged (jars 1-2” below water) into the hot water with the lid on the canner. The canner will then be brought to a boil and kept boiling for 50 minutes. Finally, we remove them with a jar lifter and let them cool. As they cool the lids will ‘pop’, indicating that they sealed.

Most state extension services have great information online on canning methods if you want to research and try it for yourself. Or you may have suggestions, tips and personal experiences to offer The Daily Lily readers. Home canning takes some time, energy and work but it provides great fellowship when working with a friend and will be well worth the effort when we are enjoying good eating this winter.

Published by Debi

I live in Leesburg, Virginia where I teach high school students in the Agriculture Department. Additionaly, I am self-employed as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer. "Beefriend the Bees!" and "Neither Here Nor There" are children's books I wrote and illustrated available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Deborah Chaves&x=12&y=25. Other interests include singing and playing my guitar (also have a CD for sale on Amazon called "Gardening Therapy"); walking my American Bulldog, Cloud and Olde English Bulldogge, Sky; staying active in my local church, and blogging on the www.thedailylily.com.

11 thoughts on “Home Canned Tomatoes

  1. Great idea Gary! Thanks for sharing.
    I like to make juice because I don’t have to peel the tomatoes. There are lots of tomato juice recipes available online. If you have a juicer, you can simply juice fresh tomatoes. Since I don’t have one, I wash them, remove stems and bad places, cut them in large pieces then cook in saucepan, crushing them, for about five minutes. Then I run them through a food mill,collecting the juice. You can also use a sieve but a mill is easier to me.
    If I have lots of tomatoes (a bushel makes about 15 quarts of juice), I will heat the juice to boiling then pour in clean, hot jars, adjust lids and process in a water bath canner for about 40 minutes. Garden fresh juice in the dead of winter is a rare treat.

  2. I have done some canning as well. I love my garden. I’ve had one as long as I can remember. Helping my mom or grandmom with their garden as a child. I have canned using the boiling water and I have canned with a pressure cooker. I agree with Debi, there is nothing like fresh tomatoes in the winter. Debi, your tomatoes look great!!!!

  3. I remember my grandmother(my dads mom) used to do a whole lot of canning…tomatoes, peaches, apples, and pears….she even did string beans…and youre right…in the winter when we came when dad was on leave to visit his mom we would have canned goods to eat….she would make stewed tomatoes from her canned tomatoes and it was delicious…..blessings on you and Rena Debi as you can all those tomatoes!….Ah…youre just like the ant…she harvests in the right time and prepares for the days to come!..dj

  4. Debi,
    I bet you didn’t know that homegrown tomatoes,is one of my FAVORITES! When I eat them, I am like a kid eating candy! My grandmother used to can them also. One of my friends likes to freeze her tomatoes. She uses the hot water like you do, to get the skins off and then she just puts them in freezer bags and freezes them. When she told me, I had never heard of that, but it sure sounded simple to me. She said that she uses them in spaghetti and soups when she cooks, and she is a great cook! Have fun canning, and thanks for sharing!

  5. Debi, I’m so excited. I’ve not only come home to Virginia but I’ve come home to doing things that I use to do with my Mom long ago – sweet memories of canning and fellowship. My Mom also tried making catsup but it turned out to be more of a spicy tomato juice. My mother use to say learn how to do things when you are young and when you are old you can pick them up again – I guess canning is just one of those things.

  6. WOW, please visit my little tomatoe garden and pick all you want to add to your canning. I am producing lots of tomatoes this year in my double pots. This is the first year I have had this success and they are wonderful.

    I want to try the upside down pots next year. Has anyone tried those? I found this info on the internet although I have heard a lot of talk shows with the same info. What do you think?

    Here’s how it works:

    You will need a hanging planter with a hole in the bottom about the size of a half dollar, or a little larger. Plants should be about 5 to 6 inches tall.

    Start with an empty pot. Put the plant into the pot upside down, being careful to tuck the leaves gently through the hole. Hang up the pot and fill it to the top with soil. Water daily.

    Some people suggest putting grass clippings on top of the soil, which “it really helps the plants retain that moisture.”

    Another tip: Be sure the pots are hanging far enough away from your deck, house or porch so they aren’t touching the wood or siding, which could bruise the tomatoes.

    Apparently this method of growing tomatoes is gaining interest around the country. An Internet search under “upside-down tomatoes” turned up several chat room transcripts with tomato-growing testimonials, as well as a Canadian gardening site describing it as a project for kids.

  7. Oh, my! The canning of tomatoes also brings rushing back, memories of my mother, Sister Grandma’s canning the gorgeous tomatoes that my daddy so diligently grew in our lovely garden in the lot beside our home on Vine Street. He was an excellent gardener and we ate from that garden for many months into the hard winters of the Genesee Valley in western NY State. We used those tomatoes over and over, plus plum jam, peaches (my brother Gene just reminded me, oh and pears, we think!
    It’s always grand to have friends who are so skilled with foodstuffs.

  8. It is so interesting to hear of each one recounting their memories of canning and the relationships and fellowships that came from those experiences. To hear of new ways of doing things is exciting also,like Needles shared with the freezing and Sara shared with the growing tomatoes with a new and different method. It reminds me of a line of a poem (by William J Bennet) that Sara taught on at Retreat 2007…”Make new friends, but keep the old.” Not only can we use and benefit from ‘old tried and true methods ‘of doing things, but we can gain new skills and perhaps be more efficient and productive by adapting some new methods also. We may have had a friendship through a past life experience that we cherish, but new ones can be made using activities that are handed down from generation to generation. It reminds me of a line of a poem (by William J Bennet) that Sara taught on at Retreat 2007…”Make new friends, but keep the old.”

    And Needles, thanks for the encouragement. Rena and I did have fun canning yesterday. We picked Sara’s vines clean and got enough to even make Gary happy by making some juice. Rena proved her mother right that you can pick up things again you learned when you were young. And I think she was trying to prove Gary’s quote correct “work is a gift”(at least the ‘work’ of canning tomatoes).

  9. Rena, It is good to have you back to Virginia and to see that you still remember how to can tomatoes after being gone for so long. Now you can make some of those good beet pickles mom use to make when we were kids. So take care and enjoy your new home. Connie

  10. Thanks Connie,

    I hope you can remember how to make those wonderful beet pickles as the only memory I have of them is eating them and that wont help me with canning. I’ll see if you remember the recipe. May God continue to bless us with a bountiful harvest so we can continue in the tradition of canning like our Mom who found great joy in this endeavor.

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