Grandma's Canned Tomatoes

August 19, 2009

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

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

Serves: 4 quarts


  • 12 pounds tomatoes*
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt (1 t. per quart)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (1 T. per quart)
  • 4 Sterilized quart jars with lids and rims
In This Recipe


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. *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.

More Great Recipes:
Condiment/Spread|Lemon Juice|Tomato|Vegetable|Summer|Vegetarian|Vegan

Reviews (5) Questions (0)

5 Reviews

Lorraine August 24, 2018
I have been making these tomatoes for the last couple of years. They are consistently excellent. I like to add a Tbs of Herbs de Provence and a sprig of fresh basil for interest. Thanks. Grandma certainly knew how to can!
Joleen L. July 16, 2018
You don't add any liquid in the jars? All the other recipes I have add water or a water brine after you fill the jars. Did that step get left out, or do I process these jars with just the tomatoes and the lemon and salt?<br />
Droplet May 22, 2011
Hi Kelsey,we also can tomatoes every August and we also add about 1/2 tsp sugar per quart jar. It doesn't really affect the taste since I still need to add some when making pasta sauce to mellow the acidity, but my dad insists that it is an extra way to ensure preservation since sugar, too, is a preserver.
Author Comment
Kelsey B. August 24, 2009
Thanks for the comments. We've always used fresh lemon juice but I am sure RealLemon is a great idea and would work beautifully! Thanks for the tip!
MrsWheelbarrow August 23, 2009
Hi Kelsey, I can a lot of tomatoes, too, and from what I understand, the USDA now recommends using RealLemon (or something like it) juice instead of fresh lemon juice, in order to assure the acidity is sufficient for safety. Just my two cents! Cheers, Cathy