Preserving the Harvest: Canning Tomatoes

Our Kitchen Table hosted a skill share on canning tomatoes Saturday August 25. Just about everybody present had tips on making the process easier (not that it is difficult!)

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To begin, we washed the jars, rings and lids in hot soapy water then rinsed. While most heirloom and organic tomatoes don’t need to be peeled before canning because they have thinner skins, we had a thicker skinned variety. To make peeling easier, participant Deirdre Cunningham shared that we should use a knife to score the bottoms of the tomatoes with an X. We then scalded them in boiling water for one minute and cooled in cold water for one minute–the skins practically popped right off.

Next, we sliced the tomatoes in quarters. We added a teaspoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice to each pint jar before packing to the bottom of the rim with fruit–yes, tomatoes are a fruit! The lemon juice adds acidity to help prevent spoiling.

After wiping the jar rim tops with a clean cloth to ensure a good seal, we put on the lids and rings. Then, we processed them in a pressure canner for ten minutes at 5 pounds pressure. If we had used a regular canning kettle, we would have processed them for 45 minutes. Every jar sealed!

We used canning tongs to remove the hot jars to the counter on top of a couple dish towels to cool, taking special care not to jostle the jars (which could interfere with the seal). It’s best not to move the jars until cool, if possible.