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Putting up Tomatoes for Winter Sauces

August 18th, 2010

My tomatoes are finally starting to ripen up en masse as are the ones in my mom’s garden. I’ve been picking big bucketfuls of all colors shapes and sizes. When I see these sitting in the kitchen, I know exactly why I grow a variety of heirlooms, how beautiful!

On Sunday evening I worked well into the night canning up some tomatoes for enjoying this winter. I’m trying to focus more on eating seasonally and growing foods that don’t need to be preserved by canning, but tomatoes are an exception. I’ll always can tomatoes for making sauces and soups. I also dry a lot of tomatoes, but sometimes a rich hearty meat sauce is the perfect dinner, and I need canned tomatoes for that.

I can all of my tomatoes as crushed tomatoes, and I never remove the seeds. Some people say the seeds can make your tomatoes bitter, but I’ve never noticed that it does. I’ve read so many different directions for canning crushed tomatoes, some of them say to process them for an hour and half in a water bath canner. I follow the directions from this great brochure from the University of Georgia – Tomato Canning. I also use the directions from Well-Preserved.

What do I do? I simply peel the tomatoes and cut them up, add them to a large pan, heat them to boiling and continue to cook them for 5 minutes. Then I fill hot jars allowing a 1/2 to 3/4 inch head space (I find that with tomatoes you want your head space to be slightly more, never less than 1/2 inch). I add a basil leaf to each jar and add the lid and ring. Then I process in a water bath canner for 35 minutes for pints, 45 min for quarts. When processing time is finished, leave jars in canner with heat turned off for 5 minutes, then remove. I find that this step helps with sealing on tomatoes, they have a tendency to expand when you take them out the canner and kind of boil up.

Do you grow enough tomatoes to can? What’s your favorite way to preserve them for the winter?

31 Comments to “Putting up Tomatoes for Winter Sauces”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Putting up #Tomatoes for Winter Sauces #canning #edible #harvestkeeperschallenge #canning […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Canning Homegrown Tomatoes | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  2. nic@nipitinthebud on August 18, 2010 at 5:36 am

    they look great. I love oven roasting them and preserving them in oil. They rarely make it into meals; I love hooking them out with a fork and eating them as they are.

    Reply to nic@nipitinthebud's comment

  3. Ken Toney on August 18, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Thanks for the tip on canning crushed tomatoes. I canned 3 gallons of tomato sauce by boiling them, running them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins, boiling again and finally, pressure canning. This method seems faster, and looks great. I’ll give it a try this weekend when I have enough tomatoes ready.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

  4. wvsimplicity on August 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Do you add lemon juice or absorbic acid?

    Reply to wvsimplicity's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2010 at 8:04 am

      Nope, I don’t add anything but tomatoes and usually a basil leaf or two per pint. My mom never added citric acid or lemon juice and I don’t either. I’ve never had any problems with my canned tomatoes.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Teresa/Safira on August 18, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I grow enough tomatoes to can some…nowhere near our winter needs, so I’ll be hitting our friendly local farmstand and asking to buy a big box of the “not pretty enough for suburbia” tomatoes. I love the idea of putting them up crushed (especially since they seem to crush when I peel them half the time anyway)

    Reply to Teresa/Safira's comment

  6. Melynda on August 18, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Thanks for the added information on leaving in the canner for the additional 5 minutes to prevent the boil up problem.

    Reply to Melynda's comment

  7. Ott, A. on August 18, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I just canned some tomato juice over the weekend. I use it for soups all winter long. Your information here is really great and I wanted to let you know that I am getting ready to host a “Canning Week Blog Party” on my blog next week. We will be posting lots of tips and recipes to hopefully encourage and educate other on canning. It’s so easy to do just so many people are skeptical or unsure of how to do it. We will also have linky parites and give-a-ways all related to canning. It should be a lot of fun!!!!

    Reply to Ott, A.'s comment

  8. Deb on August 18, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Oh, those look so lovely and yummy!

    Reply to Deb's comment

  9. Rhonda on August 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I like to dehydrate some of my tomatoes and I also like to powder some. Tomato powder adds so much flavor to sauces. I love it.

    My grandfather used to take green tomatoes (at the end of the growing season, mind you) he’d wrap them in newspaper and then put them under the bed to slowly ripen. That way he’d have fresh tomatoes when it got colder.

    Now, I’ve never tried this because I’m sure my house is way too warm, but he was from “the hills” and had a coal fired stove to heat his house. If you wanted to be toasty warm you had to camp out in the front room, otherwise you climbed under a boatload of blankets on your bed.

    Has anyone else ever heard of doing that?

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2010 at 8:48 am

      I just let mine sit on a table in the basement and they ripen up nicely. I used my last ones in December last year. I also like to dry tomatoes, I mainly dry the Principe Borghese tomatoes that I grow and I love to roast some and freeze them. The roasted ones add a wonderful flavor as well to various dishes.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Christa on August 18, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Your tomatoes look wonderful. I have tomatoes in my garden that are finally turning red. I have a lot of horn worms this year that I have been picking off by hand. I was wondering if you use any pest control on your tomatoes.

    Reply to Christa's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

      I don’t use any pest control methods, I actually don’t believe there are “pests” because they often are the primary food source for other birds and insects.

      I find that the hornworms don’t reduce my yields enough to bother picking them off, I occasionally lose some tomatoes from their munching, and I don’t mind if they defoliate some plants. I leave them on and after a while I notice that they’re either gone (eaten by a bird) or they have the parasitic wasp eggs on them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Justin on August 18, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I would love to see the recipe for roasted tomatoes in oil that one of your commenters spoke of. I’d also appreciate any general tips for preserving in oil. I once tried to make basil oil, but it went bad very quickly (fuzzy-bad, not rancid-bad). I suspect I need to sterilize the jars/bottles beforehand and I didn’t and that’s why.

    Your tomatoes look awesome. I canned a batch of “Grade B” tomatoes from the farm stand a couple weeks ago. I found last year that if you want to can slicing tomatoes whole or in chunks, you pretty much have to seed them to get the water pockets out else you’ll have half a jar of water and half a jar of tomatoes when done. Puree or sauce, on the other hand, works quite well without seeding/de-watering.

    My San Marzano’s are starting to ripen and I’m hoping I’ll have enough for a batch this week. Absolutely can’t wait!

    Reply to Justin's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

      Yes they are more watery depending on the type of tomato if you’re using the whole tomato. I find that when I use a mix of romas (which are dryer) and beefsteak canners (which are juicer) I get a decent mix. It’s slightly more watery than regular canned tomatoes, but since I make my own sauce I simply cook it down a little longer to boil off some of the water.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Sara on August 18, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I tend to do basic tomato canning, pretty simple flavors so they can be used for any recipe. So just plain canned (crushed), sauce, and we are dehydrating a TON this year. And salsa, but that’s another whole story :)

    I leave seeds in too for most things. I do find with the canned sauce, that removing seeds makes a better flavor. Maybe it’s because it cooks down for so long? And now that I’ve been using a strainer gadget, I find I really like the velvety texture of the seedless sauce. So now I do both I guess!

    Reply to Sara's comment

  13. stefaneener on August 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I try to grow enough and have almost depleted last year’s supply — and that was with a supplement of 50 pounds of purchased ones. So when people say, “What are you going to do with all those tomatoes?” I wonder if they eat soup or sauce all year ’round.

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      I agree, I find I never have enough tomatoes or tomato soup for our sauces, chili and other needs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Corrie Carswell on August 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I can with my mom and dad, and my brother. We grow as many tomatoes as possible, just for the purpose of canning them. We do make spaghetti sauce, but lately we’ve been loving what we call chili-ready tomatoes.

    We mix chopped up tomatoes with chopped pepper, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. We bring it to a boil for a bit and then can it (we use a pressure canner). This gives us a delicious base for chili or soup! I like it because I can sneak extra vegetables into my finicky husband’s and son’s diets.

    I love the colors of the different tomatoes and other veggies. Sometimes I stand in front of my canning closet just to look at how pretty the full jars are, and feel prepared for another long winter! Used to be, my friends though I was kind of crazy for all this putting up of food. Now many of them are asking me to teach them how to can!

    Reply to Corrie Carswell's comment

  15. warren on August 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

    We got 200 pounds or so this year…we can it in all sorts of ways but my personal favorite is salsa!

    Reply to warren's comment

  16. Tommy on August 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    It’s been so cool here in Southern CA this summer, that my tomatoes are just now starting to ripen up. Amazing how late everything is this year!
    I haven’t canned crushed tomatoes before—this year will be the first. Usually, I can a bunch of spaghetti sauce. My problem is that I’ve been working on the tomaotes all summer, putting a lot of time into their care, that by the time they all start ripening, the family is so excited to eat them that we don’t leave too many for canning! haha, oh well, they sure taste awesome!

    Reply to Tommy's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      We do that as well, I could can so many more if we didn’t eat them at every meal and as snacks in between.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Chris on August 18, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Very nice! I learn so much from your site! I make salsa with most all of my tomatoes that we don’t consume fresh, and sun-dry a few. We give the jars of salsa as holiday gifts, along with a few other homemade items.


    Reply to Chris's comment

  18. MAYBELLINE on August 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Holy smokes.
    I’ve canned them whole, diced, and in salsa.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  19. Jackie on August 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I do it the “hard way”. Removing the seeds and skins with a food mill. Cooking off some of the water and then canning. A bit of time spent now saves time this winter.

    Reply to Jackie's comment

  20. Laura on August 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I’ve never canned anything but I freeze my tomatoes to use in chili or sauces in the winter. I do wish to learn to can vegetables though.

    Reply to Laura's comment

  21. Bethany on August 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I was having trouble gathering enough ripe tomatoes at the right time to make a large enough batch to can, but then I read somewhere that you can freeze whole tomatoes. I’ve been freezing the whole tomatoes, then, when I want to make a sauce, I run the frozen tomato under warm water, the skin peels right off. It takes a little while longer on the stove top to warm the tomatoes through, but so far it’s worked for me. Now that I’ve got enough frozen tomatoes I’ve been debating thawing them and canning them as a sauce, but I’m not sure I want to bother. How many tomato plants do you have that you can grow enough to make that many cans of tomatoes?!

    Reply to Bethany's comment

    • Susy on August 19, 2010 at 12:20 am

      I have 20-30 plants here in my garden and my mom has 10-15 plants in her garden and I get tomatoes from her as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. Janice on August 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    We didn’t grow enough tomatoes to can this year. Maybe next year–but I’ve bookmarked this page so when I do have a bunch, I’ll know what to do with them. Thanks! ITM

    Reply to Janice's comment

    • Richard on September 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      This will be my first attempt. Will be going to a local fram to purchase plum tomatoes. How many pounds should I figure per quart jar.
      Thanking you in advance

      Reply to Richard's comment

      • Susy on September 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

        Around 23 pounds of tomatoes will be needed for a canner load of 7 quarts (this would make for around 14 pints if you’re doing pints).

        to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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