The tomatoes are ripe and ready now for use in a myriad of delicious summer dishes. But what about the rest of the year. This winter when you’re craving tasty Indiana tomatoes for soups stews and sauces, you’ll be glad you went to the bother of canning them in August.

How to Can Tomatoes

recipe by Molly Watson for The Spruce Eats

(Prep:30 mins – Cook:45 mins)

I’m not going to lie — the process takes some time and is a bit of a hassle. But it doesn’t require any special skills—anyone with an excess of ripe tomatoes and the appropriate canning equipment can do it. (Several vendors at the Market have big boxes of canning tomatoes available.)

Ingredients:

  • 15 pounds ripe whole tomatoes*
  • 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice**
  • 6 quart-size jars (with rings and new sealable lids)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot or canning kettle full of water to a boil.
  2. While the water comes to a boil, use a sharp knife to cut a small “x” in the bottom of each tomato.
  3. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it near the pot.
  4. Once the water is boiling, put in the tomatoes. Cook them for about a minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them directly into the ice water so they can cool quickly.
  5. As soon as the tomatoes have cooled off enough so that you can handle them easily, use a sharp paring knife to remove the tomato skins. Having blanched them, the skins should slip right off without too much fuss.
  6. Bring the water back to a boil, put the jars in the canning rack, and boil the empty jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Put the lids in separately, also for 10 minutes, to soften the sealant. Remove the jars from the water (empty any water back into the pot and bring back to a boil).
  7. Put a tea kettle full of water on to boil.
  8. While the water is boiling, put 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice in each jar. Stuff the jars evenly with the tomatoes. If you don’t care how “whole” they are in the end, really cram them in there, releasing the juices from some to create enough liquid to cover them. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water from the tea kettle, if needed, leaving 1/2 inch of head-space at the top of the jars.
  9. After wiping the edges of the jars clean, place the lids and rims on the jars, set the jars in the canning rack, and lower them into the boiling water in the canning kettle or other large pot. Cook, with the water boiling the whole time, for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove cans from their water bath and set them on a counter to dry and cool. Store jars in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

*You can use other low-moisture tomatoes as well. You can use juicier heirloom varieties, but they won’t hold their shape as well.

**While in pretty much every other instance fresh lemon juice is the way to go, when it comes to canning tomatoes, use bottled lemon juice. Bottled juice has a standardized, consistent acid level necessary to keep the tomatoes from spoiling.

Check our recipe archive for more great ways to preserve fresh summer produce at its peak; including this Slow Roasted Cherry Tomato recipe.