Every year since he can remember my father has canned fruits, vegetables and jams. He learned his techniques from his mother, my grandmother, who typed up her instructions and made an entire canning booklet for him (pictured above) when he moved out. I've been helping Dad with his canning since I was little and to this day we always set aside a few August days to preserve the bounty of summer. Our canned tomatoes are one of my favorites because I use them all winter long. They are great for making sauces, soups and spreads. Canning can be a little labor intensive, but the result is well worth it. —Kelsey Banfield
Test Kitchen Notes
The best way to preserve peak-season tomatoes? Can them! The process requires a little bit of effort and planning, but altogether is quite simple—and once you taste a homemade batch, you’ll be hard-pressed to want to go back to the store-bought variety again. Make a big batch towards the end of summer for a bright tomatoey burst all year round—especially during the chilly winter months when freshness can feel hard to come by.
All you’ll need is: 3 pounds of tomatoes for each quart you want to make (this recipe calls for 12 pounds tomatoes total); kosher salt; lemon juice (fellow F52ers have also usedRealLemon); and sterilized canning jars and lids (making sure these are squeaky-clean is key). Marisa McClellan for The Kitchn recommends looking for paste tomatoes, which “are quite dry, very meaty and have fewer seeds than your standard slicer." Some of these varieties include Roma, San Marzano, Big Mama, Jersey Giant, and more. If you’re sourcing your tomatoes directly from a farm, you can always ask the farmer for their recommendation—they might just delight you with a lesser-known varietal.
Once your tomatoes are all canned, the fun part begins: all the recipes you’ll put them towards. Homemade tomato sauce, creamy tomato soup, tomatoey braised chicken thighs, the possibilities are endless.
- Prep time 5 hours
- Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
- Serves 4 quarts
Kosher salt (1 t. per quart)
lemon juice (1 T. per quart)
Sterilized quart jars with lids and rims
- To peel tomatoes, place all tomatoes in boiling water. When skins begin to retract remove them from the water and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and loosen the skins. Peel the tomato skins off and cut out the stem. Press peeled and cored tomato firmly into prepared jar. Fill each jar until there is only 1/2 inch air remaining at the top.
- Once jars are prepared add 1 t. Kosher salt per quart, and 1 T. lemon juice per quart. Place lids and rims on jars and tighten.
- Prepare a large boiling water bath in a stockpot or lobster pot. Make sure water is deep enough that it will completely cover the jars. Once water has come to a boil arrange jars on a wire jar rack and lower into water. Allow quarts to process in the water bath for 45 minutes.
- When processing is complete, remove the rack of jars and place on a heatproof surface. Cover jars with a dishtowel and allow them to sit for a few hours at room temperature to cool.
- *Note: the rule of thumb is to order 3lb tomatoes for each quart you want to make. We usually pre-order our tomatoes from a local farm and find that one large bushel will yield about 16-18 quarts. You want to use a meaty tomato variety, they work best. We've used several different ones and always find that the farmers we work with can give us great recommendations as to which ones to use that year.