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How to Can Tomatoes


Whole Peeled Tomatoes

Whole Peeled Tomatoes

Photo © Molly Watson

These whole peeled tomatoes are what most people think of when they think of canned tomatoes. They are quickly blanched in hot water, peeled, stuffed into jars, covered, and boiled to seal the jars. The process takes some time, but doesn't require any special skills. Seriously, anyone with an excess of ripe tomatoes can do it.

You may want to check out this list of canning equipment before you get started.

Note: While in pretty much every other instance I can think of, I call for fresh lemon juice, when it comes to canning tomatoes you want to use bottled because it has a standardized and consistent acid level that you want to keep the tomatoes edible. See more Canning Safety Tips.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


  • 15 pounds ripe whole Roma, paste, or other low-moisture tomatoes (you can certainly use juicier heirloom varieties, but they won't hold their shape as well)
  • 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 6 quart-size jars with sealable lids and rings


Bring a large pot or canning kettle of water to a boil. While the water works on coming to a boil, use a sharp knife to cut a small "x" in the bottom of each tomato. Once the water is boiling, put the tomatoes in. Cook them for about a minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon. Put the tomatoes directly into a large bowl of ice water or on a large baking sheet so they can cool quickly.

As soon as the tomatoes have cooled off enough so that you can handle them easily, use a sharp paring knife to remove (and discard) the tomato skins. Having blanched them, the skins should slip right off without too much fuss.

Bring the water back to a boil, put the jars in the canning rack, and boil the empty jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Put the lids in separately, also for 10 minutes, to soften the sealant.

Remove the jars from the water (empty any water back into the pot). Put a kettle of water on to boil. While the water is boiling, put 2 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice in each jar. Stuff the jars evenly with the tomatoes. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jars. Wipe the edges of the jars clean and place the lids and rims on the jars, set the jars in the canning rack, and lower them into the boiling water in the canning kettle or other large pot. Cook, with the water boiling the whole time, for 45 minutes.

Remove cans from their water bath and set them on a counter to dry and cool. Store jars in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

Want an overview of the process? See 10 Easy Steps for Home Canning.

You might also want to check out How to Can Chopped Tomatoes.

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