Summer Canning: Tomatoes

Fresh local tomatoes are so delicious in the summer, it is a good time to preserve their sun ripen tomato-ey flavour for cooking. I came across some nice local tomatoes so I bought some to try canning them at home – it is my first time canning tomatoes. It is not a difficult process. All you need is tomatoes, salt, citric acid or bottled lemon juice, and water (proper canning jars too!). The following recipe was adapted from Chow Times.


For every 500 ml bottle:
  • About 1 lb. (400-500 grams) fresh vine ripen tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. powdered citric acid OR 1 tbsp. bottled lemon juice
    (bottled lemon juice has regulated acidity whereas the acidity of fresh lemon juice varies)
  • ½ tsp. salt (if desired)
  • Fresh herbs (if desired – I did not use any since it was my first time)


  1. Score a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes with a knife for easy skin removal.
  2. Boil tomatoes in hot water for about 30 seconds.
    *Remove from water and place them in a cold water bath.*
  3. Peel skin.
  4. Remove the core (stem end) of the tomatoes with a paring knife.
  5. Cut tomatoes into halves or quarters and place into a pot and cover the bottom with water. (I used about 1 cup of water for 2 lbs of tomatoes.) Bring contents to a boil in medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Simmering them will kill the enzymes that causes the liquid and solid to separate – the process is called ‘Hot Pack’. Add salt if desired.
  6. Prepare jars for canning: rinse jars with warm water, sanitize and keep jars and tops in hot water (not boiling) until ready to use. Do not put hot contents in a cold jar – glass may break! Place the citric acid or lemon juice in the empty sanitized jars.
  7. Fill jars with prepared tomatoes, leave about ½ inch of space from the top of the rim. Use a plastic knife or utensil to remove air bubbles in the jar, add more cooking liquid if required.
  8. Wipe rim of the jars, place tops and screw rings (not overly tight!). Place jars into hot water with at least an inch of water above the jars and bring to a boil. Process the jars for 40 minutes (time from when boiling starts). After 40 minutes, turn off heat, wait until boiling subsides, carefully remove jars without tilting them. Check seal after 24 hours, the top of a good sealed jar shouldn’t ‘pop’ when pressed with your finger. If it ‘pops’, it means the jar is not vacuum sealed – you will need to use contents as soon as possible and store it in the refrigerator. Store properly sealed jars in a cool dark place.

I was surprised that canning tomatoes are so easy, the tomatoes I used is probably not suitable for a pasta sauce but will be good in a soup or stew. This is not canning tomato sauce – that is a different story which will require removing the seeds and milling the tomatoes. Things to be careful about is handling the hot jars and that cleanliness is key!

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