While more time consuming than drying or freezing, canning tomatoes is the best way to preserve them from the standpoint of taste and nutrition. Canning tomatoes is easy once you get a little practice! Continue reading for step-by-step instructions on preserving your tomato bounty.
When canning tomatoes the jars should be very clean. You can sterilize them by setting in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then, before filling, take out of the sterilizing water and drain on a drying rack for 10 minutes. Another easier option is to run them through your dishwasher then keep the door closed where they'll remain hot and ready.
Lids must be new but the rings can be reused. Wash and rinse both the lids and rings and then boil for a few minutes and leave in the hot water until you are ready to use them.
|Altitude||Add to boiling time (minutes)|
|1000 ft (300 m)||2|
|2000 ft (600 m)||4|
|3000 ft. (900 m)||6|
|4000 ft. (1200 m)||8|
|5000 ft. (1500 m)||10|
|6000 ft. (1800 m)||12|
|7000 ft. (2100 m)||14|
|8000 ft. (2400 m)||16|
|9000 ft. (2700 m)||18|
|10000 ft. (3000 m)||20|
When the time has elapsed, use a jar lifter to remove the jars from the hot water immediately. Place the jars out of a draft or cold spot where they could crack and allow a bit of space between jars so they can cool.
What is hot-packing? It is just a variation of canning tomatoes that is the same as described, except you first cook the tomatoes before filling the jars.
Hot-packing adds another step to your process, but the practice helps to remove air from fruit tissues and shrinks the contents to help keep the fruit from floating in the jars, increases vacuum in sealed jars, and improves shelf life. This pre-shrinking step also permits filling more fruit into each jar.
To hot-pack: Peel as before, then cut into quarters. Cook the tomatoes without water in a pan, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 to 5 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking.
Pack and process the same as the cold-pack method, except reduce the boiling time to 10 minutes for both pints and quarts, adding more minutes for altitude per the chart.
Label the jars to show the contents and preparation date. You'll want to know the variety and may forget the date.
After the jars are cool, test the seals by pressing down in the middle of the lid. If a jar hasn't sealed, you can process the jar again in the next batch although it will lose some flavor. Or just refrigerate and consume in the next couple of days.
Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your effort!