How to Can Crushed Tomatoes
Canning fresh vegetables from your garden is a great way to increase your self-reliance and save money! One of my favorite home food preservation projects is canning crushed tomatoes. These delicious jars of homegrown goodness are wonderful for making pasta dishes, soups, and stews over the winter. Here’s how to safely can crushed tomatoes from your garden, the grocery store, or the farmers market!
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Canning Crushed Tomatoes Safely
The first thing to consider is what method of canning you will use to preserve your tomato harvest. Water bath canning is safe for canning high acid foods while pressure canning is the only scientifically approved safe method for canning low acid foods.
Are tomatoes high acid foods? Although we normally think of tomatoes as being high in acid, some varieties are too low in acid to safely can in a water bath canner. However, you may safely can tomatoes with your water bath canner by adding acid to the tomatoes, or you may preserve them with a pressure canner.
Preparing to Can Crushed Tomatoes
You’ll need approximately 22 pounds (a little less than 1/2 bushel) of tomatoes to produce 7 quarts of crushed tomatoes. For the best results, choose tomatoes that are:
- firm, with no bad spots
- from plants that have not been killed by disease or frost
To prepare your tomatoes for canning:
- Wash and remove stems
- Dip in boiling water, then plunge into ice water to remove skins
- Remove ‘cores’ and chop coarsely
- Remove seeds, if desired (I leave the seeds in)
- Add a layer of peeled tomatoes to a large stockpot and crush them with a potato masher
- Bring to a low boil and slowly add the rest of the tomatoes
- Stir the tomatoes to prevent scorching
- Bring to a low boil and boil for 5 minutes
Water Bath Canning Crushed Tomatoes Safely
To safely can crushed tomatoes with a water bath canner add one of the following ingredients to each quart jar before adding the tomatoes:
- 2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice, or…
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
Add one of the following ingredients to each pint jar:
- 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice, or…
- 1/4 teaspoon citric acid
When measuring citric acid, be sure to level it off. Too much citric acid will make your finished product more acidic than desired.
Preparing Jars and Water Bath Canner
While your tomatoes are cooking, prepare your canning jars and canner.
- Wash the canning jars thoroughly and inspect for cracks, chips, or other damage. Use only jars intended for canning that are in good condition.
- Place jars in hot water until you are ready to fill them.
- Fill your water bath canner about 2/3 full with water, cover with the lid, and place on a burner on high. Bring to a boil.
- Prepare canning lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Place a dishcloth or cutting board on the counter for setting hot jars down.
- Wash the jar lifter, canning funnel, and screw bands.
- Place the screw bands in hot water until ready to use.
How to Water Bath Can Your Crushed Tomatoes
- Measure lemon juice or citric acid into each quart jar.
- Add up to 1 teaspoon of salt per quart jar, if desired.
- Ladle hot crushed tomatoes into hot jars.
- Leave 1/2″ headspace.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth.
- Place a canning lid on the jar and secure it with a screw band.
- Use a jar lifter to place filled jars in water bath canner, being careful to keep jars level as you lift them.
- Once all of the filled jars are placed in the water bath canner, return the water to a boil.
- Begin processing time once the water has returned to a boil.
- If the water stops boiling during processing time, return to a boil and begin processing time over again.
Processing Times in Minutes for Water Bath Canning Crushed Tomatoes for Different Elevations
|Size of Jar||0 – 1000 ft||1001 – 3000 ft||3001 – 6000 ft||6000+ ft|
When Processing Time is Complete
- Use the jar lifter to carefully remove each jar from the boiling water
- Place jars on a dish towel or wooden cutting board, keeping jars level
- Leave a couple of inches between jars
- Do not press down on lids
- Allow jars to cool, then check lids for proper seal
- Refrigerate any jars that do not seal and use in 2 or 3 days
Pressure Canning Crushed Tomatoes
If you prefer not to add lemon juice or citric acid to your crushed tomatoes, it is necessary to process them in a pressure canner. Read through the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper use of your pressure canner.
Before you begin:
- Clean your pressure canner.
- Check the valve to be sure it is clean.
- Wash and dry the rubber seal.
- Place the rack in the bottom of the canner.
- Add the recommended amount of water to the canner.
- Wash canning jars and place in hot water until ready to fill.
- Use only jars intended for canning that have no chips or cracks.
- Wash and dry screw bands and prepare lids according to manufacturer’s instructions
To Pressure Can Your Crushed Tomatoes:
- Fill jars with hot crushed tomatoes, leaving 1/2″ headspace.
- Wipe rims with a clean cloth.
- Place the canning lids in place and secure them with clean screw bands.
- Use the jar lifter to place jars in the pressure canner.
- Be sure to keep lars level as you place them in the canner.
- Add the proper amount of water to the bottom of the canner, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Place the lid on the pressure canner and turn it to the proper position.
- Turn the heat on under your pressure canner.
- When steam begins to escape from the pressure valve, set a timer for 10 minutes.
- At the end of the 10 minutes, place the weighted gauge into place on the pressure valve, using the proper pressure setting.
- When the pressure builds up, the steam will begin to escape, causing the dial to jiggle. Set the timer for the proper processing time.
- The dial should jiggle at least once every minute during the processing time. If the dial stops jiggling, raise the temperature and begin processing time over again.
- When processing time has finished, turn the heat down a little at a time until the heat is off (this prevents drastic pressure changes inside canning jars).
- Do not remove the pressure gauge or the lid of your canner until the pressure has returned to normal, otherwise the liquid inside the canning jars may be forced out of the jars.
- Allow the jars to cool on a dishtowel after removing them from the canner.
- Do not press down on lids until the jars have cooled to room temperature.
- Test the seal of each jar and refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly. Use unsealed jars in 2 or 3 days.
Processing Times and Pounds of Pressure by Elevation for Crushed Tomatoes in a Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner
|0 – 1000 ft||1001+ ft|
|Quart or Pints||20||5 pounds pressure||10 pounds pressure|
|Quarts or Pints||15||10 pounds pressure||15 pounds pressure|
The Best Way to Can Crushed Tomatoes!
The best way to can crushed tomatoes is the method that works best for you! As long as you add lemon juice or citric acid to your jars of crushed tomatoes, you can safely can them in a water bath canner. If you don’t have a pressure canner, or you are worried about using one, you can still put up crushed tomatoes for the winter!
Here are some delicious ways to use your home-canned crushed tomatoes:
- Pasta sauce
- Vegetable soup
- Minestrone soup
- Spanish rice
- Stuffed peppers
- Tex-Mex dishes
I hope you enjoy putting up your own food with these instructions to can crushed tomatoes safely!
Here are some tips to keep your home-canned foods in good condition until you use them:
- Store in a cool, dark place, with low humidity
- Use in 1 to 2 years
- Wash jars and screw bands before storing to remove any food that could get moldy
- Label jars with contents and date of processing
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