Sunday, August 21, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a native of South America, most likely the highlands of Peru. The perennial green plant produced small green fruits. One species of these was taken to Mexico where it was grown by Mesoamerican civilizations. It is not know when they were domesticated but the first domesticated tomatoes may have been a small yellow fruit the size of a cherry tomato, grown by the Aztecs. Tomatoes were later transported to Europe possibly by the Spanish explorer Cortez after he conquered the Aztecs in 1521. The word "tomato" comes from the Nahuatl (a group of languages spoken by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples) and means "the swelling fruit". The Spanish brought the tomato to their colonies in the Caribbean and also the Philippines but the tomato was not grown in England until the 1590's. John Gerard cultivated it though he believed it to be poisonous. Because of his influence the tomato was considered unfit for eating in Europe and the American colonies for many years. Today, of course, we know this is not the case and all sorts of varieties of tomatoes are grown in almost every backyard vegetable garden.
Mine, however, did not produce many tomatoes for me. I got lots of grape tomatoes and a few yellow tomatoes so when I saw some on sale today I got some for canning. Canning tomatoes is fairly simple if a bit messy. First you have to get the peels off. To do this you put the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes.
Then you are supposed to put them in ice water but I never seem to have any ice so I just put mine in a colander and run cold water over them. If the tomatoes skins haven't split, you can slice through the skin with a knife and then the skin just slides off. As I said, it is a bit messy.  I then cut them in half and cut out the core but making a V cut around the core.
Larger tomatoes I may cut in quarters and those the size of Roma tomatoes just in half. Then put them in another pot.
Add just enough water to cover them and bring it to a boil. Boil approximately 5 minutes.

I was canning these in pints and each pint needs about a teaspoon of lemon juice. Heirloom varieties may be acidic enough not to need any lemon juice but since I bought these, I added the lemon juice.

Put your tomatoes in your sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a plastic spatula or something similiar to remove the air bubbles from the jars and clean your rims like always. Water bath can pints 40 minutes, quarts 45 minutes.


  1. Well, if you haven't got your own home-grown tomatoes, I guess home-canned ones are probably nearly as good...

  2. Phil eats them more than I do and he thinks so :)

  3. I can my tomatoes too, our tomatoes did good but not great this year.

  4. I've never canned anything... I'm tempted to have a go. How long do they keep?

  5. They can keep for years just like any food in a can.

  6. I knew it was a daft question as soon as I had posted it ;)