With tomatoes season in full swing, many of you lucky enough to have a tomato garden in Philadelphia, or the suburbs, you probably have tomatoes growing faster than you can eat them. Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve these extra tomatoes for the winter season. Plus, you can store properly canned tomatoes in the pantry or a cool area, which avoids the limitations of freezer space.
If like me, you are not fortunate enough to have a tomato garden, but would still like to experiment with canning, you can also buy local organic tomatoes at the farmers’ markets in Philly. You can find a list of the farmers’ markets around the Fitler Square and Center City area here.
There are two ways to can tomatoes: pressure canning and the hot water bath method. This article will detail the hot water bath method.
What you need:
- Tomatoes – ripe but still firm.
- Lemon juice
- Jars with lids and rings
- Boil water in a large deep pot of water.
- Sterilize the jars, lids and rings – either by using the sterilize setting on your dishwater or boil in water for 5 minutes.
- Blanch whole tomatoes by putting them in boiling water for a minute.
- Remove tomatoes and put immediately in a bowl of ice water.
- Remove skin from tomatoes – this should be very easy after the tomatoes were blanched.
- Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters and put in jars. Try to pack the tomatoes in tightly by using the back of a plastic spoon to push the tomatoes in the jar. Fill the tomatoes to within 1/4 inch from the top of the jar opening.
- Pour out excess tomato juice. Add in two tablespoons of lemon juice and pour some of the boiling water into the jar until it’s 1/2 inches from the top of the jar opening.
- Using a flat plastic (like handle side of the plastic spoon) or wood utensil to remove the trapped air bubbles by gently sliding the utensil up and down around the inside edge of the jar.
- Screw on the lid and ring snugly over the jar.
- Boil the jars in the large deep pot of water and keep the jars covered with at least 1 inches of water. Keep the water boiling and boil the jars for 40 minutes for pint size jars and 45 minutes for quart size jars.
- Carefully lift the jars out of the water with tongs and let them cool in a draft-free place. Do not touch them while they cool (usually overnight). Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed by verifying that the lid has been sucked down. You can do this by pressing in the center of the lid gently with your finger. If it pops up and down (making a popping sound), it is not sealed. You can either put the jar in the refrigerator right away or replace the lid and re-boil the jar.
- If the tomatoes are floating above a layer of liquid, that’s okay, it just means that you didn’t pack the tomatoes in the jar as tightly as you could have. This will not affect or spoil the tomatoes.
- You can store these canned tomatoes in the pantry or a cool area until you want to use them in the winter time. Enjoy!