canning tomatoes

September 12th, 2010 § 14

2010 will be our second tomato vintage, and we’re happy to report that this year’s canning experience was a lot more fun than our first one. Last year our tomatoes were suddenly ripe mid-week, and without knowing what we were getting into, we started canning at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday evening. We got through 36 pints.


It was a particularly tomatoey summer this year, with dozens of new varieties appearing at the markets, begging to be tasted. We spent a weekend in Prince Edward County with friends in August, and visited an organic farm that grows and sells 240 varieties of heirlooms. The farm’s produce is laid out for sale in a little roadside shack that uses the honour system – you take what you like and leave your money in a little box.


It’s no small joy to have jars of home-preserved tomatoes cellared away for the cold season, to release their light on dark days and serve up something robust and virtuous, like the cioppino or skillet eggs we made over and over last winter. Until the sad day in March when we went to get a jar of tomatoes, and they were just all gone.


So we did 72 pints this year. We also planned much better, and had perfect Romas ready to go for the long weekend. The long day we spent in the kitchen felt like a road trip – listening to old albums, carefully planning caffeine breaks, and telling long stories. A delicious end to summer, and a stash that will carry us through to next year’s crop.


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§ 14 Responses to “canning tomatoes”

  • Wei-Wei says:

    I love people who can can. It’s such a lost art… but I’m glad you brought it back to my attention, because I think it’s so amazing!

  • City Share says:

    That sounds fabulous. I currently live in NYC, but I long to have my own garden so I can put up my own tomatoes too. I’m canning vicariously through you.

  • Patricia Doiron says:

    And they’re delicious!! Especially with a little fennel sausage thrown in. Yum.

  • Do you just core, peel and slice your tomatoes and plop them in the jar to process? Some of them look pureed. Any tips welcome.

  • Rob says:

    The canning process is quite involved. It seems almost everybody else tends to can tomatoes sauce, but we do them whole so we can cook with them later.

    First you blanch to get the skins off, then they go into sterilized jars with a little bit of citric acid. The PH level is quite important for canning. Not enough acid, and it won’t wok. The tomatoes we got this year were a little bit large, so we had to squish some of them in to completely fill the jars.

    Once then are in the jars, they have to be boiled for for 45 minutes with the seals on. This gets the excess air out.

    A great resource for canning is Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone. Its lots of work, but its well worth it over the winter months.

  • Victor says:

    Gentlemen, I’m impressed. I was all tomatoed out after canning 9 litres, but you canned twice as much per person as I did. Bravo!

  • Robert says:

    cmon, spill the amount of tomatoes, number of jars etc….how did we get to 72 jars??

  • Rob says:

    It turned out to be the equivalent of 72 pints: that is 24 pint-sized jars, and 24 quart-sized jars (2 pints each). This is twice as much as we did last year.

  • Tonia says:

    I really enjoy learning about other people’s motivations for travel other than to see the world around them. Travelling to find delicious items to eat and can. A new reason that I have not encountered before and by the looks of it, a delicious reason!

  • I think I’m sticking with tomato jam, frozen sauce and frozen whole tomatoes this year. Can’t get it together with the citric acid…maybe next year! Thanks for the info. Btw, I have Eugenia’s book and, while I’ve enjoyed reading it, I haven’t actually attempted a single recipe. A friend was recently getting ready to participate in her annual tuna canning, which really does sound tempting.

  • Jon says:

    Honour-system heirlooms in Prince Edward County in August? It sounds sublime. I hope you went swimming at Sandbanks, too. As always, the mise en scene is beautiful and the narrative engaging.

  • carpeseason says:

    I remember when my husband and I tried canning for the first time in our tiny Minneapolis kitchen. I think your ‘road trip’ analogy is right on. Lots of labor, but well worth the journey for more reasons than just the outcome.

  • Travis says:

    Can you send me or post your instructions for canning? Do you have any tips or tricks?

  • David says:

    Thanks for asking! The technique we use is described step-by-step in this fantastic book:

    In, summary, this is how we do it:

    Wash the jars in the dishwasher, and boil the lids and rings. Fill pint jars with a quarter tsp. of citric acid and a scant tsp. of fine sea salt. (Double for quart jars.) Blanch and skin the tomatoes, slice them in half, and pack them into the jars. You can leave them whole if they’re small. Clean the mouths of the jars, close with lids and rings, and boil for 40 min.

    The most trying part of the process is waiting for the water to come back to the boil between batches. We saved a lot of time last year by positioning the vat of water over two burners instead of one.

    I hope you give it a try. There is really nothing like the taste of your own home-canned tomatoes.