Canning Italian Tomatoes

There is something very satisfying about putting up tomatoes for the following year. I love standing in front of my pantry and looking at all the pretty jars filled with yummy goodness that my family will get to enjoy.

I remember feeling intimidated by the process the first time Kendall and I tried it. Thankfully, we found the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. It gave us enough confidence to try it by breaking the process down into easily understood steps.

My favorite recipe is for Italian tomatoes because it is easy to adapt for a larger or smaller batch depending on what I have on hand. Many people choose to blanch, peel, and seed their tomatoes before canning them. I prefer not to as it slows the process down and I like the end result without these steps fine. If your family prefers them peeled and seeded, you can definitely do so.

Canning Steps

  1. Wash and inspect your jars. Make sure your jars don’t have any cracks or nicks. If there is any imperfection along the rim of the jar you will not be able to get a seal.
  2. Put your jars, lids, and bands in a large pot on the stove. Make sure they are completely covered in water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until you are ready to fill them with tomato sauce.
  3. Wash the tomatoes. If you are worried about pesticides or bacteria, you can make a 3:1 ratio of water to vinegar solution to wash them in. It is also perfectly fine to just fill the sink with water, swish them around, then drain the sink and rinse them.
  4. Next, chop up your tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. PRO TIP – Use a chopper to save a TON of time and ensure consistently sized pieces throughout.

5. Dump the onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers into a big stock pot. Cook on medium/high until your onions start to look translucent.

6. Use a jar lifter to carefully lift your jars out of the simmering water and dump out the water.

7. Carefully fill the jars with the tomatoes, leaving about an inch of headspace on the top. A jar funnel will help with this. Use a clean cloth to wipe off the rim of each jar.

8. Add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or lemon juice per pint (or 1/2 teaspoon per quart.) I have used both, and really don’t have a preference. I usually just use whichever one I have on hand. Either one will lower the pH, which decreases the chance for bacterial growth.

9. Put the lids and rims on each jar, then carefully put them back into the pot of hot water. Make sure there is enough water in the pot to completely cover the jars. Bring the water back to a rolling boil. Tomatoes need to be processed in the boiling water for 45 minutes.

10. Use the jar lifter to bring the canned tomatoes out of the water and set them aside to cool. As they cool, the pressure change will cause the lid to “pop.” If the lid does not suck down, it is not safely sealed.

Store your cooled jars in a dry, dark, and cool space. Depending on your storage conditions, they should last 10 – 18 months.


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