Tips for Canning Tomatoes Safely
Home canning is a great way to make use of the abundance of produce you are finding in your Full Circle delivery. If we can up just 2-3 jars of goodies each week, we will have near 100 jars of yummy products to enjoy during the off season!
Canning tomatoes at home requires a little extra attention to detail because tomatoes are the least acidic food that may be canned using the Water Bath Canning Method. Failure to add additional acid or under-processing could lead to dangerous canned goods! Always read tomato canning recipes carefully before proceeding and you will be able to produce safe and delicious tomato products to enjoy in the future.
Using the Water Bath Canning Method, you may prepare most of the styles of tomato products that you would find at the grocery store but there are a few rules that are SET IN STONE.
Do not attempt to make up your own recipe. Use the recipes that have been developed and tested by either the USDA or The Ball Blue Book (If you use Ball recipes either from a book or online, note that jars are left in the hot water, with the heat turned off, for a 5 minute resting period before the jars are removed to cool. It is very important to use this extra 5 minutes and failing to do so may result in under-processing.)
All tomato products need to have acid added to each jar. This is the final step of every tomato product, and is done just before the lid is placed on the jar. Use one of the following forms of acid to make your canned tomatoes perfectly safe: Use bottled lemon juice–1 tablespoon per pint jar or 2 tablespoons per quart jar. OR, use citric acid powder–1/4 teaspoon per pint jar or 1/2 teaspoon per quart jar. If you have an allergy to citrus, you may substitute 5% acidity vinegar–2 tablespoons per pint or 4 tablespoons per quart jar. I suggest apple cider vinegar for this application since it tastes a little less harsh.
It is always best to boil tomato halves for about 5 minutes before you place them in jars. This step allows the jars to be processed for a much shorter period of time, saving as much as 40 minutes per batch.
The only additions that are safe for adding to standard tomato recipes are commercially dried herbs and spices. Do not add any fresh or home dried herbs or spices that are not in the original recipe as this could lead to unsafe acid levels.
Ideas for canning tomatoes: tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes in brine, tomatoes with okra or zucchini, Mexican tomato sauce (spicy!), hot sauce and more. All of these recipes may be found in the USDA Guide to Home Canning which is available for free.
Once you have canned sauce and chopped tomatoes to last the winter, you deserve a break. Use the last of the harvest to make Bloody Mary Mix! Visit my website (Seattle Can Can) for the recipe as well as a nice way to can up some pickles to go along with your drink!
Vickie Phelps, Seattle Can Can
About Vickie: I am an avid home canner with over 40 experience and a USDA accreditation as a Master Food Preserver. In addition to my own canning projects I teach public classes on Basic Water Bath Canning, Fermentation & Sprouting, Pressure Canning, and Production of Flavored Oils, Vinegars and Syrups. You will find me and my son teaching classes in downtown Seattle at HUB Seattle.