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Preserving Tomatoes Heading Image

TOMATOES AND TOMATO PRODUCTS   CANNING BASICS

Many tomatoes and tomato products are safely and acceptably processed using either the boiling water method or the pressure canning method. The exceptions are spaghetti sauce and salsas. Spaghetti sauce has a relatively large quantity of low-acid ingredients and therefore requires the pressure canning method for safety. Salsas are more acceptably processed using the boiling water method. For instruction on using the pressure canning method or boiling water canning method in your pressure canner, refer to the links above.

Acidifying Tomatoes and Tomato Products

Tomatoes have a pH close to 4.6, which means it is necessary to take precautions to can them safely. First, carefully select tomatoes for canning. Use only tomatoes that are disease-free, preferably vine-ripened, and firm.

Second, an acid must be added to tomatoes whether they are processed using the boiling water method or the pressure canning method. To ensure safety of whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add bottled lemon juice (not natural juice) or citric acid in the following amounts:

Pints: Add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid to each pint jar.
Quarts: Add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each quart jar.

 

Adding Salt

Tomatoes may be canned with or without salt. Salt is used only for flavor, as it is not used in a large enough quantity to prevent spoilage. If salt is desired, use only canning or pickling salt. Table salt contains anti-caking agents that may cause cloudiness in the liquid inside the jars.

The recommended amount of salt is 1/2 teaspoon for each pint jar, 1 teaspoon for each quart jar.

Adjusting for High Altitude Canning:

  • Dial Gauge Pressure Canner When pressure canning at altitudes of 2,000 feet or below, process according to specific recipe. When canning at higher altitudes, process according to the Pressure Canning Chart below.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner: When pressure canning at altitudes of 1,000 feet or below, process according to specific recipe. When canning at higher altitudes, process according to the Pressure Canning Chart below.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Pressure Canner: When pressure canning, this canner automatically adjusts for altitude. There is no adjustment necessary.
     
  • Boiling Water Method with Dial Gauge, Weighted Gauge, and Presto Precise® Digital Pressure Canners: When using the boiling water canning method at altitudes of 1,000 feet or below, process according to specific recipe. When canning at altitudes above 1,000 feet, increase processing time according to the Boiling Water Canning Chart below.

Pressure Canning Altitude ChartBoiling Water Canning Altitude Chart

 

PROCEDURES AND RECIPES

To ensure the best and safest home canned product, we recommend reviewing the Canning Introduction link. Follow step-by-step directions for your pressure canner. Process specific tomato products according to the following recipes.

 

TOMATOES — whole or halved (packed raw without added liquid)     pints | quarts

Wash smooth, firm, ripe tomatoes. Loosen skins by dipping tomatoes 1 minute in boiling water, then in cold water. Peel and remove core. Leave whole or halve.

Raw Pack: Note: Tomatoes that are raw packed will separate during processing into a liquid and solid, with the solids forming on top of the liquid. This is due to an enzyme that causes tomatoes to break apart when heated. Flavor and nutritional quality are not affected by this change.
Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to hot jars as directed in Tomatoes Canning Basics. Add salt, if desired, as directed. Pack hot jars with raw tomatoes, pressing until spaces between them fill with juice. Leave 1/2-inch headspace.

Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

PROCESSING OPTIONS

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 25 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 25 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints and Quarts 25 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

Boiling Water IconBoiling Water Canning

  • Dial Gauge, Weighted Gauge, and Presto Precise® Digital Canners. Process Pints and Quarts 85 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended time.

 

TOMATOES — whole or halved (packed in water)      pints | quarts

Jar of Tomatoes ImageWash smooth, firm, ripe tomatoes. Loosen skins by dipping tomatoes 1 minute in boiling water, then in cold water. Peel and remove core. Leave whole or halve, or if using large tomatoes, quarter.

Hot Pack: Place prepared tomatoes in a large pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 5 minutes.  Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to hot jars as directed in Tomatoes Canning Basics. Add salt, if desired, as directed. Pack hot jars with hot tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Fill jars with hot cooking liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Raw Pack: Note: Tomatoes that are raw packed will separate during processing into a liquid and solid, with the solids forming on top of the liquid. This is due to an enzyme that causes tomatoes to break apart when heated. Flavor and nutritional quality are not affected by this change.
Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to hot jars as directed in Canning Tomatoes basics. Add salt, if desired, as directed. Pack hot jars with prepared tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Fill hot jars with boiling water, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

PROCESSING OPTIONS

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 10 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 10 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints and Quarts 10 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

Boiling Water IconBoiling Water Canning

  • Dial Gauge, Weighted Gauge, and Presto Precise® Digital Canners. Process Pints 40 minutes and Quarts 45 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended time.

 

TOMATOES — crushed (with no added liquid)      pints | quarts

Wash smooth, firm, ripe tomatoes. Loosen skins by dipping tomatoes 1 minute in boiling water, then in cold water. Peel and remove core. Cut into quarters.

Hot Pack: Heat about 1 pound of the quartered tomatoes in a large pot, crushing them as they are added to the pot. Continue heating the tomatoes, stirring to prevent burning. Once the tomatoes are boiling, gradually add more quartered tomatoes, stirring constantly. These added tomatoes do not need to be crushed. They will soften with heating and stirring. Continue until the pot is three-quarters full. Then boil gently 5 minutes.

Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to hot jars as directed in Tomatoes Canning Basics. Add salt, if desired, as directed. Fill hot jars immediately with hot tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

PROCESSING OPTIONS

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

Boiling Water IconBoiling Water Canning

  • Dial Gauge, Weighted Gauge, and Presto Precise® Digital Canners. Process Pints 35 minutes and Quarts 45 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended time.

 

TOMATO JUICE         pints | quarts

Tomato juiceWash ripe, juicy tomatoes. Remove stem ends.

Hot Pack: To prevent juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound of tomatoes into quarters and put directly into a large pot. Heat immediately to boiling while crushing. Continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while adding additional tomatoes. Continue until the pot is three-quarters full. Simmer 5 minutes. If juice separation is not a concern, simply slice or quarter tomatoes into a large pot. Crush, heat, and simmer for 5 minutes before juicing.

Press heated juice through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Heat juice again to boiling.

Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to hot jars as directed in Tomatoes Canning Basics. Add salt, if desired, as directed. Fill hot jars with hot tomato juice, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

PROCESSING OPTIONS

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

Boiling Water IconBoiling Water Canning

  • Dial Gauge, Weighted Gauge, and Presto Precise® Digital Canners. Process Pints 35 minutes and Quarts 40 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended time.

 

TOMATO SAUCE         pints | quarts

Wash ripe, juicy tomatoes. Remove stem ends.

Hot Pack: Cut about 1 pound of tomatoes into quarters and put directly into a large pot. Heat to boiling while crushing. Continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while adding additional tomatoes. Continue until the pot is three-quarters full. Simmer 5 minutes. Press heated juice through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Heat juice in a large pot until sauce reaches desired consistency. Simmer until volume is reduced by about one-third for thin sauce or by one-half for thick sauce.

Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to hot jars as directed in Tomatoes Canning Basics. Add salt, if desired, as directed. Fill hot jars with hot sauce, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

PROCESSING OPTIONS

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints and Quarts 15 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

Boiling Water IconBoiling Water Canning

  • Dial Gauge, Weighted Gauge, and Presto Precise® Digital Canners. Process Pints 35 minutes and Quarts 40 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended time.

 

SALSA

Process salsa using the boiling water method. Refer to Boiling Water Method section for tested canning recipes.

 

SPAGHETTI SAUCE WITHOUT MEAT         pints | quarts

  • SPAGHETTI30 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery or green pepper
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Yield: About 9 pints

NOTE: Do not increase the proportion of onion, celery, green pepper, or mushrooms. Doing so will affect the safety of the recipe.

Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water and slip off skins. Remove cores and quarter tomatoes. Boil 20 minutes, uncovered, in a large pot. Put through food mill or sieve. Sauté onion, celery or green pepper, mushrooms (if desired), and garlic in vegetable oil until tender. Combine vegetables, tomatoes, sugar, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently until thick enough for serving. At this time the initial volume will have been reduced by nearly one-half.

Fill hot jars with hot sauce, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints 20 minutes and Quarts 25 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints 20 minutes and Quarts 25 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints 20 minutes and Quarts 25 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

 

SPAGHETTI SAUCE WITH MEAT         pints | quarts

  • 30 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef or sausage
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery or green pepper
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Yield: About 9 pints

NOTE: Do not increase the proportion of onion, celery, green pepper, or mushrooms. Doing so will affect the safety of the recipe.

Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water and slip off skins. Remove cores and quarter tomatoes. Boil 20 minutes, uncovered, in a large pot. Put through food mill or sieve. Brown beef or sausage. Add onion, celery or green pepper, mushrooms (if desired), and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender. Combine with tomatoes in large pot. Add sugar, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently until thick enough for serving. At this time the initial volume will have been reduced by nearly one-half.

Fill hot jars with hot sauce, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rims. Position lids on jars and adjust bands fingertip tight.

Pressure Canning IconPressure Canning

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper canning procedure and canner-specific jar capacity.

  • Dial Gauge Canner. Process at 11 pounds pressure—Pints 60 minutes and Quarts 70 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, see chart for recommended pounds pressure.
     
  • Weighted Gauge Canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure—Pints 60 minutes and Quarts 70 minutes. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, use 15 pounds pressure.
     
  • Presto Precise® Digital Canner. Process Pints 60 minutes and Quarts 70 minutes. Canner automatically adjusts for altitude in pressure canning mode.

 

Assurance of Quality Image

Canning Index | Canning Introduction | Frequently Asked Questions | Pressure Canning Method
Boiling Water Method | Fruits | Tomatoes and Tomato Products | Vegetables | Meat, Game and Poultry
Fish and Seafood | Stock and Soup | Troubleshooting | Care and Maintenance | Pressure Canner Comparison Guide