Friday, July 27, 2012

Canning Crushed Tomatoes (and other tomato reminders)

Do you want a relatively quick and painless canning method for tomatoes?  One that is versatile enough to give you tomatoes for soups, stews, and sauces throughout the year?  Crushed tomatoes is definitely your best bet.  Yes, you still have to peel them (sorry to burst your bubble), but that is really the most time-consuming part of the whole matter.  Once they are peeled they just need to be chopped, heated, and processed.  For a quick tutorial on how to peel tomatoes, check out this post.

If you have a lot of tomatoes and need more ideas, check out the two part tomato post from last year.  Part 1 has Seasoned Tomato Sauce, Garden Tomato Sauce, and Salsa (from a Ball mix).  Part 2 has a fantastic Classic Tomato Soup, Tomato Jam, and Bruschetta.  Also check out the Roasted Garlic and Herb Pasta Sauce I canned this year.   
Crushed Tomatoes (in their own liquid)makes 9 pints

Fourteen pounds of tomatoes will give you approximately 9 pints, but you don't have to have that many to can crushed tomatoes.  Work with however many pounds you have, but remember to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar (or 2 tablespoons to quarts).  Bottled lemon juice should be used as the acidity of fresh lemons is not always consistent. 

14 pounds tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
9 Tbsp bottled lemon juice

Prepare your canner, lids, and rings (see Canning Basics).

Place your chopped tomatoes in a large nonreactive pot.  Bring the tomatoes to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, crush some of the tomatoes in the pot while leaving others in larger pieces. 

Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar.  Ladle the tomatoes into the jars making sure you get some larger pieces and crushed pieces in each jar.  Leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of each jar.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.  Wipe the rims of the jars and place sterilized lids and rings on each.  Process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes for pints or 45 minutes for quarts.  Remove jars to a towel to cool 24 hours before checking seals, labeling, and storing for up to one year. 


  1. Yay tomatoes! I canned six pints of sauce this afternoon--very much like these except cooked down a bit more & pureed. Perfect!

  2. Thank you for posting this recipe. I made 5 quarts the other day. They turned out great with the exception of the tomatoes separating from the "liquid." The tomatoes go about 3/4 of the way down the jar, and then it's yellowish liquid. Do you know why this happened? Is this OK? Thanks!

  3. Sara, sometimes the tomatoes do separate from the liquid. This can be due to several different factors including whether or not you had drastic temperature changes in the tomatoes (like they were boiling, then cooled a little, and then were boiled again), if the tomatoes were packed too loosely into the jars (which is difficult to tell sometimes with tomatoes), or there was air left in the cells of the tomatoes (all fruits have air in the cells that is removed through processing). Either way, while not the most appealing looking product at times, the tomatoes you have processed are safe as long as they were processed for the specified amount of time and the lids sealed. Sometimes mine do this to an extent, and I simply shake the jar to redistribute the contents after the lids are sealed. They may return to their floating positions, but often they remain more evenly distributed after some gentle shaking. To make sure they are packed tightly in the jars before processing, I usually scoop the pulp in the jars until it fills them completely before adding the liquid to cover. This way you don't end up with jars that are half liquid and half tomatoes. Hope this helps.

    1. That does help- thank you for explaining! Next time I'll use a slotted spoon to get the tomatoes in without the juice. I'll probably have another chance to try this out this weekend so I'll let you know how this round goes.

  4. Sara, Taste that liquid before you leave it out of your jars! It should be sweet and delicious, and your canned product would suffer it's absence. You might try cooking it down (the liquid only) before adding it back to the jars so the separation doesn't happen. What I do is cook the peeled and chopped toms in a shallow glass pan in the oven at 225 overnight (more or less time depending on the amount) which concentrates them while retaining a fresh flavor, and avoids time spent over the stove. I generally freeze rather than can, but just get the toms hot before filling the jars if you're preserving that way.

    Virginia, I'm so happy to have come across your blog! Your endeavors are very impressive!

  5. Adrienne, I am glad you are enjoying the blog. I agree that Sara should not throw out the tomato liquid. There is a lot of flavor to be had in it, and the idea of cooking the liquid down to concentrate its flavors and reduce the water is a good one. Using the slotted spoon is helpful to get the tomatoes in there snugly, but the liquid still gets used as it fills the jars after the packing step. The result will most likely be fewer jars of canned tomatoes since they will be packed more efficiently but will hopefully result in less float.