Canning,  Food,  Garden

Tomato Canning – My Favorite Tips

As we start getting more tomatoes than we can eat, I sauce them in the food processor and put the sauce in half gallon ice cream containers in the freezer. When we run out of freezer space, it’s time to can! If you’re new to canning tomatoes, here’s the official instructions.

This year we also picked up three boxes of canning tomatoes (read: busted and bruised) at the end of the farmers market for $10.

I DO NOT: take off seeds and skins. I’m sure they’re full of nutrients, but more importantly, I don’t mind a chunky sauce and un-chunking the sauce is a serious amount of work.

I bring the tomato sauce to a simmer and let them simmer till they are reduced by a third to a half. This takes an evening-ish? It makes the whole house and sometimes the yard smell like tomato sauce and heats the kitchen up into a fabulous tomato sauna, which I’m sure is great for my skin.  I add salt and herbs, plus sometimes garlic and onions and oil, though I don’t always bother. Tomatoes are high acid, so you don’t need to pressure can them unless you add a bunch of stuff, so I keep it simple.

Aaaand the last jar cracks. That's cool! #canning #tomatoesWhen it’s time to can, I put the washed jars in the oven at 210 degrees to sanitize them. I used to pre-boil the jars to sanitize them, but this takes FOREVER and is MISERABLE. Most of our canning jars are old vegenaise jars, with some of my Grandma’s jars mixed in and a few new Ball Jars.

I re-use jar lids 2-3 times if they are free of rust, dents, dings, etc. I’ve never had a seal fail on a re-used lid! I spent a lot of time reading about re-using lids before I braved it, and the consensus was either: “No never — you will die if you re-use a lid!” and “Eh, I do it, and I’m alive!” My personality falls into the lazy camp, but you do what you like!

Sometimes the vegenaise/mayo jars crack, but mostly it is the new Ball jars. My grandma’s old jars are totally diesel and amazing.

The last thing is, I am fond of dissolvable labels. Ball makes some – pictured – but they sometimes dissolve in humidity and lose their sticky before you put them on the jar – this is annoying. I want to try out some new brands if anyone has tried others. It’s so lovely when the labels dissolve right off the jar in water.

24 quarts of tomato sauce. Was 25. I like the Ball Dissolvable labels. None of the precious #vegenaise jars cracked!


  • Sam

    Happy canning! I’ve been using my old lids for freezing stuff in jars (freezer jams, pickles, pie filling, etc) for years but never tried reusing them to can. I also want to try the reusable lids, like tattlers, but haven’t gotten around to ordering them. Maybe next year. Have you tried freezing your tomatoes whole? Then draining off the water/juice when they thaw out? I’ve heard it cuts your cooking/reducing time down a lot.

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