March 21, 2020
Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve summer’s bounty and enjoy your garden flavors into the winter. This is the method I use to can tomatoes with little effort and as little mess as possible.
I moved to South Dakota ten years ago, and almost immediately after moving, my mom and dad started to call me Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Why? Because I lived in the middle of nowhere.
On a farm.
And I canned. Everything.
I became so fascinated with growing and harvesting and storing my own vegetables, that I HAD TO LEARN TO CAN.
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So I taught myself from the youtube and other amazing bloggers (thank you all for sharing your knowledge.)
Related: How to Can Strawberry Jam
Not only was it budget friendly, but I could also control what was in my food.
My favorite thing to can is tomatoes.
Since I started canning years ago, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips, and I want to share with you now the quickest, easiest, and laziest way to can tomatoes.
Step One: Prep Your Tomatoes & Preheat your oven
To start, you need tomatoes (duh). I will be honest, I have used a couple different types of tomato. I have used Big Boys and Romas and San Marzanos, and I definitely choose San Marzanos over any other type (you can read about that here), but Romas are just as good and easier to come by. They also grow easier in the Midwest.
Big Boys, also called fat boys, grow really well in the Midwest, however, they have more water in them compared to San Marzanos and Romas. San Marzanos and Romas are meaty, very few seeds, and not much water. Big Boy might not matter much now as you’re reading, but later, when you try your hand at canning you’ll understand why I choose a meatier tomato. A tomato with less water takes less time to cook down and you don’t have as much “shrinkage,” in your final product.
Today, because it’s March (in South Dakota), and I’m using this opportunity to teach someone how to can, I purchased my tomatoes from the grocery store. I’m using roma tomatoes. Like I said before they are not my favorite, but they work very well for canning. They are meaty and low on water.
I preheat my oven to 350 degrees, and then take the stems off all the tomatoes and rinse them.
Once rinsed, I halve all the tomatoes and place them cut side down on my aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. I drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder over all the tomatoes.
Step Two: Bake your tomatoes
This is the sheet pan I like to use for baking. They are thick and sturdy and can fit a ton of tomatoes on them. I have two of them so that when I’m canning a large batch of tomatoes, I can always have one in the oven so I can speed up my process.
Bake the tomatoes for about 40 minutes, then let cool about the same time. Cooking them in the oven begins the cooking process and helps the skin detach itself from the rest of the tomato. You will see the skins start to peel back and crack. That’s exactly what we want.
Let the tomatoes cool. Once cooled, simply pull the skins off the meat. You have literally removed all the tomato skins without a single water bath. SO. EASY.
Now that the tomatoes are done in the oven, turn the oven down to 200 degrees, and place your jars in there.
Step Three: Cook down your sauce
After the skins are removed, I place all my tomatoes in my favorite pot, my enameled cast iron dutch oven, aka the Black Mamba of my kitchen. I use it to cook EVERYTHING. Just yesterday I used it to bake bread, brown some ground beef and make this sauce. It’s so freaking versatile.
I add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and allow them to cook some of the water out. I don’t measure any of those things; I probably should.
I break up my tomatoes while they cook with this mix and chop tool. While most people use a mix and chop tool to break up ground meats, it actually helps to break up the tomatoes with it as well because it speeds the cooking process along by breaking down the tomatoes quicker.
Here is another one of my tomato canning cheats: I don’t water bath my jars. I was them in my dishwasher and use the sanitize cycle, then I put them in my oven at 200 degrees to keep them hot. I do boil my lids and rings so those are hot and sterilized, but using the dishwasher is such a clutch move. It keeps everything hot and food safe.
Step Four: Add Tomatoes to Jars
Once everything is hot, and the tomatoes have cooked down to my desired “doneness,” I scoop them into the hot jars. I use Ball pint size jars for this recipe, and while I didn’t have any on hand this day, I prefer using the wide mouth jars because it is easier to scoop my sauce into.
Normally, I will also use this canning kit from Ball, but because I was just doing a small batch, I didn’t get out all my canning supplies. I definitely recommend this kit, however, because it has all the tools you need to move your food to jars the quickest and cleanest way.
If you’re looking for a list of essential canning supplies, check out this post: The Essential Canning Checklist to Get Started Canning
I add a bay leaf to each jar (don’t forget to take the bay leaf out later when you go to eat the ‘maters), and I leave at least a quarter inch of space in the top of each jar, wipe off the rim, then place the lid on, and twist on the ring.
Step Five: Let Jars Cool & Seal
Then I flip my jars over and leave them to sit on my counter for 24 hours.
The best part of canning? Hearing the “pop” when the lids seal. Such satisfaction!
I keep my jars of tomatoes for two years usually, and use them for everything: tomato sauce, additions to soups and stews, pizza sauce, chili base, anything that needs tomatoes.
Tools I use to Can
The investment in each batch of canned tomatoes is very minimal. There are some upfront costs to canning, but after purchasing the supplies initially, I’ve been able to use them over and over again. Here’s a list of the supplies I use nearly every time I can:
- Wide Mouth Mason Jars
- Baking Sheet
- Canning Kit
- Dutch Oven
- Large Stock Pot
- Canning Rack
- Extra rubber seal lids
Hope you enjoy!
Are you looking for other canning recipes? Check out these posts:
- Cookie Sheet
- Dutch Oven
- Wide Mouth Mason Jars with Metal Rings and Seals
- Canning Equipment
- 20 Lbs Tomatoes makes between 7 and 8 pints
- Garlic Powder or Minced Garlic
- Alpine Seasoning
- Bay Leaves
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Onion Powder
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, wash and sanitize all jars, and then take the stems off all the tomatoes and rinse them.
- Halve all the tomatoes and place them cut-side down on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder over all the tomatoes.
- Bake the tomatoes for about 40 minutes, then let cool about the same time. Cooking them in the oven begins the cooking process and helps the skin detach itself from the rest of the tomato. You will see the skins start to peel back and crack which is perfect.
- Turn oven down to 200 degrees, then place jars (just jars), in the oven to keep warm.
- Let the tomatoes cool. Once cooled, simply pull the skins off the meat.
- After the skins are removed, place tomatoes (in batches) in dutch oven. Add Alpine Touch and more garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Allow tomatoes to cook down 10-20 minutes. At the same time, boil lids and metal rings from mason jars.
- Once everything is hot, and the tomatoes have cooked down to my desired “doneness,” remove jars from oven one at a time and scoop tomatoes into the hot jars.
- Add a bay leaf to each jar, and leave at least a quarter inch of space in the top of each jar, wipe off the rim, then place the lid on,and twist on the ring.
- Flip jars over and leave them to sit on my counter for 24 hours to seal.