Tag Archives: canning tomatoes

Try It: Tomato Jam

Spiced Tomato JamTomatoes may be a summertime staple, but you can turn them into an autumn (or anytime) treat by making Spiced Tomato Jam. In this recipe, traditional tomato flavor is warmed by the addition of allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, sweetened by sugar, and brightened up by lemon rind and juice. The lemon juice also helps make sure the acidity is where it needs to be to get a good gel. In addition to the ingredients mentioned, you’ll also need a box of powdered pectin.Spiced Tomato Jam Ingredients (2)

Peeling tomatoes may seem like an unimportant extra step, but the texture of the skin was determined to be undesirable and product testing did not include considerations of how the skin would alter the final product safety. So, scald, peel, and chop tomatoes as described in the procedure. Our canning recommendations are meant to be followed as written, since that is how they were developed and changing ingredients or steps may influence not only the quality but also the safety of the final product.

Complete recipe, procedure and boiling water canning process times are on the NCHFP website: Spiced Tomato Jam.

People also sometimes ask if they can use commercially canned tomatoes in our tomato recipes, but quantity, consistency, and even acidity could be different in commercially canned tomatoes as compared to fresh tomatoes, so we do not recommend using them when fresh tomatoes are called for in a canning recipe.

Wondering what to do with tomato jam? Try serving it on a crackers and cheese platters, smothered over baked brie, or as a condiment with meat dishes. It’s also nice to taste simply spread on toast!

Homegrown Tomatoes — Not just a Daydream

This winter was a cold one for most of us, making that next round of fresh homegrown tomatoes seem a distant daydream.  Did your supply of home-canned tomatoes from last year get low or even emptied?  Well, it’s not too early to start thinking of your next harvest.  Tomato plants can go in the garden once any danger of frost has passed, so sooner than later those ripe tomatoes could be a reality.

In southern states, tomato plants are now going into the ground. In more northern climates last frost may still be a few weeks away, but tomato plants Spring calendarcan already be started indoors. If you start them indoors from seed, you’ll wait four to seven weeks before they are ready to be planted outside.

A few tips from University of Georgia Extension will help your chances of success in starting your homegrown ‘maters:

  • Establish an indoor location near a south-facing window that receives a lot of sunlight. If you cannot do this, then you might need to use a supplemental grow light with a spectrum that mimics natural light.
  • Use a light soil mix for planting tomato seeds.
  • Select a seed variety that is adapted to your local area.
  • Remember to harden off the plants before transplanting by gradually exposing them to sunlight a little bit more each day for about a week before carefully tucking them into their garden beds.

Are your tomato plants already ready to go into the garden? Follow the planting, mulching, fertilizing, and watering tips from UGA Extension: Georgia Home Grown Tomatoes.

If you plan to preserve your upcoming bounty of homegrown tomatoes, then remember that there are options for both boiling water bath canning and pressure canning tomatoes. Make sure you follow tested recommendations, and have citric acid or a bottle of lemon juice ready! (Directions for canning tomatoes call for adding a small amount of citric acid or commercially bottled lemon juice in order to ensure the acidity and safety of the final product.)


What’s In Your Choice Salsa?

Salsa Easy to make and simple to can in a boiling water canner, salsas are very popular for home canning. One of the most common requests we receive at the National Center is “Can I can my salsa recipe?”

The answer is not what people usually want to hear…but the trouble with canning your own salsa recipes is that most recipes contain low-acid ingredients, and low-acid foods need to either be pressure canned or properly acidified by the addition of a strong acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) for boiling water canning. Either way, a process time needs to be determined for any particular recipe to ensure that spoilage or sickness-causing microorganisms will be destroyed (this time varies based on qualities like pH, solid-to-liquid ratio, size and shape of jar, etc.).

So then, we cannot recommend that just any homemade salsa recipe be canned. That’s why we have a variety of carefully tested salsa recipes for you to choose from. Safety first, but also quality, were given priority in developing these recipes, so we hope you will find at least one that you like. Crushed tomatoes

If the idea of following a recipe exactly is tough for you to swallow, then, well, you might want to consider taking up cooking instead of canning, but for now, you might also enjoy playing with our Choice Salsa recipe. This recipe was developed to allow for a great deal of flexibility – you can use any variety of onions and peppers so long as you use a total of 9 cups diced onions and/or peppers per batch. The only other ingredients you need are 6 cups chopped tomatoes, 1½ cups bottled lemon or lime juice, and 3 teaspoons canning or pickling salt. Remember to enjoy some fresh and refrigerate jars after opening!

Since You Can’t Have Too Many Tomatoes…


Just as the tomatoes in your garden grow and the varieties of tomatoes in markets continue to increase in number, we also encounter a generous assortment of directions for canning tomatoes. But canning your tomatoes does not have to be too complicated, if you simply use reliable, research-based directions for preparing and processing your food.

For example, home canned tomatoes may be crushed so that they are ready-to-use, or left whole or halved. Whole or Halved Tomatoes may be canned with water, in tomato juice, or with no added liquid. While the no-added-liquid version of canned tomatoes is a raw pack, Crushed Tomatoes are a hot pack only. Tomato Juice can be made as is or as a Tomato-Vegetable Juice Blend, as hot packs only. Also only available as a hot pack is Tomato Sauce.  Many more classic canned tomato product directions are available, such as Spaghetti Sauce with or without meat and Ketchup.

Canned Tomatoes

No matter how you choose to can your tomatoes, remember that it is very important to use a canning process time that matches up with the preparation directions for filling your jars. Also, it is important to the safety of your canned tomato products to use tested directions, like those from USDA. For many of these tomato products, there are canning options for both boiling water and pressure canning available in our directions.

In the case of these tomato products with both options, the pressure processing still requires acidification in these products. The pressure options only provide the same amount of heat to the product as the boiling water processes. Just because pressure is used to decrease the process time, the canning process is not the same as one to destroy spores of Clostridium botulinum as you would expect for low acid foods.

Peeled Tomatoes

Tomatoes are borderline in pH between acid and low acid foods, so the USDA preparation directions for these products call for acidification to allow a less severe heat treatment than would be required without it. To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. (Citric acid results in a less noticeable change in taste for most people.) For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product; in fact, this is recommended to be sure you get the acid in each and every jar. Sugar may be added to offset an acid taste, if desired, but the acid cannot be decreased to taste. (Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.)

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has recommended directions for canning tomatoes and tomato products under “How do I”….”Can”…..”Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products“.

This entry contains excerpts from an article called “Sorting Out Tomato Canning Directions” written by Elizabeth Andress, PhD and Director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.