August Can Jam: Canned Whole Tomatoes


For all the cooking and baking that I do on a day-to-day basis, there are still some very basic things that I haven’t attempted (or even tasted in some cases) in the kitchen. For instance, although I’ve made, let’s see, a marmalade, a relish, two types of pickles, and three types of jams (not including the ones i haven’t told you about yet)… I’ve never tasted a home-canned tomato before, let alone canned them myself.

For some of you, I’m sure you’re like, UH DUH LADY, NEITHER HAVE I. And you would be right – even though canning and home preserving in general has become ten times more popular in the past couple of years, most people don’t know how to can. So it’s normal. But what I can say is, if I can can tomatoes, you can too.

I’ve said before that I had no idea what I was doing when I started canning in January. (Ugh, let’s talk not about the headspace on that back jar in this picture. Sigh. I knew so little.) But the learning curve of canning is steep, and delicious for that matter.

Just in case you’re new around here, I’m part of the monthly canning challenge hosted by Tigress in a Jam. Each month we all challenge ourselves to can one type of fruit or vegetable. Then at the end of the month, Tigress goes through and posts all of the recipes from each participant. (And then we all drool over what each other made, and our recipe books triple in a matter of minutes.)

This month Julia of What Julia Ate challenged us all to can tomatoes. Although I’ve never had a home-canned tomato anything, I had visions of spaghetti sauces, salsas, and tomato jams; a cupboard of jars filled with sweet and tart tomatoes. But, I thought, what better to start with than the basics? And so, below, you’ll find the easiest canning recipe ever. I only did 4 quarts, but you could easily double triple sextuple (?) this recipe enough to have canned tomatoes for all winter.



Canned Whole Tomatoes in Water

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Yields 4 quarts


8 pounds plum tomatoes
8 tablespoons lemon juice
kosher salt


How to Peel Whole Tomatoes
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Rinse tomatoes under warm water to remove any pesticides or wax and rub gently to dry. Prepare an ice water bath by adding 4 cups ice to a large bowl of cold water.

Score each tomato on the bottom with an X. Do not make deep cuts, just barely cut the skin. Once the water boils, drop tomatoes, one by one every 10 seconds, into boiling water. When the water stops boiling, stop adding tomatoes. Boil tomatoes for approximately 1-3 minutes, until the skin starts to separate from the flesh. As each tomato looks ready, remove one by one and submerge in ice water bath. Peel skin off and core each tomato. Submerge peeled tomato back into boiling water.

Repeat with all tomatoes. Keep peeled tomatoes in boiling water until ready to can.

Can Tomatoes
Bring water bath canner to boil. Sterilize jars by boiling in water bath canner (with lids off) for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Turn heat to low and add flat canning lids to saucepan. Simmer lids for 5 minutes until seal is softened.

Remove sterilized jars from water bath canner and set on a towel on countertop. (You don’t want the hot jars to be set directly on a cold surface, or they might shatter from the sudden temperature change.) Add 2 tablespoons o lemon juice to each quart jar. Add a pinch of salt to each jar if desired. Carefully spoon hot tomatoes out of the boiling water into jars, using the back of a spoon to carefully press the tomatoes into the bottom of the jar. Once the jar is full of whole tomatoes, ladle extra tomato-boiling water into each jar until the tomatoes are covered, leaving 3/4 inch of headspace (space between the liquid and top of the jar).

Run a knife around the inside edge of the jar to remove any air bubbles (which can harbor bacteria if sealed in the jar.) Place a softened lid on each jar, then screw on a canning ring to “fingertip tight” (meaning, screw the ring on but don’t kill yourself trying to make it tight – if the lid is on too tight, the air can’t be pushed out during canning, and your canned tomatoes will spoil.)

Submerge full jars in water bath canner. Water should cover tomato jars by at least 1 inch above the lid. Boil for 45 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary. Remove jars from water bath canner, and place on kitchen towel. Listen for the delightful ping! of a successful canning project. Check the seals after 24 hours.

If you can still press down on the middle of  the canning lid, then the jars did not seal properly. Re-process jars by repeating the canning process with a new flat lid.







Deerhunter / Revival I can NOT get this out of my head. Especially love the last 30 seconds… I love to bang on the center console. (Yeah. I’m that person you see on the road, rocking out while driving. I own it.)



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20 thoughts on “August Can Jam: Canned Whole Tomatoes

  1. You have totally inspired me to try canning tomatoes! Thanks for such a fun and non intimidating post! and, of course, I love that you are an in-car rockstar-I can be quite the head banger myself ;) So glad I am now following your blog!

  2. I love your blog! I canned my first tomatoes last summer, and let me tell you, you’re going to feel like a million bucks when you’re pulling these ripe, red, gorgeous maters out of the pantry this winter. We enjoyed fresh homemade tomato soup all winter. Happy canning!

  3. Oh yeah you will never go back to store bought canned tomatoes! We did a years worth last year & they are the best. Plus I keep reading about how the ones from the store are so bad for you.

  4. Pingback: Healthy Eats » Archive » Summer Fest: Top Ten Things to Do With Tomatoes

  5. I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (, a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  6. This has not inspired me. You are making it harder than it needs to be. There is a much easier way to prepare delicious canned tomatoes. Anyone with any experience knows it doesn’t have to be this labour intensive. It is becoming a lost art…..canning is becoming a lost art.

  7. Pingback: Can It! Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Tomatoes « NYC – Brooklyn

  8. Pingback: Can It! Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Tomatoes | A Child Grows

  9. Pingback: Can It! Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Tomatoes | A Child Grows

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