Canning Tomatoes

Raw pack whole or halved method.... no water added. 

with Sharon Peterson

When you are canning tomatoes you have a choice as to how you want to process them. See safety recommendations for more information.

Canning directions for both the waterbath method and the pressure canning method are included at the end of the page. 

Canning tomatoes can be done in both a pressure canner and a water bath canner. Water bath canning requires extra acidity! Learn more at

A couple tips before you start.  

Optional ... freeze them first. 

I explain how to peel your tomatoes in this article but another option is to freeze your tomatoes prior to canning them. When you thaw them out the skins slip right off.  Check out this page for more information.  Freezing Tomatoes

What's all this about lemon juice?

For more information why acidifying your tomatoes is important, please read

Canning Tomatoes Safely

.... do you really need lemon juice?   What's the big deal anyway? 

Prepare your ingredients and canning supplies

Gather your canning supplies


  • tomatoes - I'm using Roma tomatoes on this page but other varieties work as well.
  • canning salt

Start by preparing your jars, and getting water in your canner heating.
(see pressure canning for full directions)

First step.... peeling the tomatoes. 

Depending on the size of the tomato, blanch 4 to 6 at a time. In these pictures I am working with Roma Tomatoes. I like them for canning because they are meatier than other tomatoes. They are smaller so I can fit more in the blancher.

If you have a blancher or blanching basket, that makes it easier but you can also just use a slotted spoon and a big pot of boiling water.

1- Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30-60 seconds or until you see the skins split. Start counting as soon as your tomatoes hit the water. Don't wait for the water to come back to a boil to start your count time.

2-When you remove the tomatoes, drop immediately into sink or bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.

3-Slip off skins and quarter tomatoes. The skins should just slide off in your hands.

Occasionally I'll use a knife on some stubborn spots.

Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to the jars. 1T per pint, 2T per quart.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars, if desired.

As you skin the tomatoes slice them in halves or quarters as you prefer. I will sometimes even leave my roma tomatoes whole. Place them directly into your jars. 

Your jars should be warm when you are working with your tomatoes.  I'll usually just have them in a sink or pan of hot water. You can also run a dishwasher rinse cycle with the jars and then leave them in the steamy dishwasher until you are ready to fill each one. 

Press down on the tomatoes in the jar until spaces between them fill with juice. This will crush them slightly. Leave 1/2-inch head space.

Repeat steps until all tomatoes are skinned and chopped. You may need to let your water come back to heat in between batches in the blancher. 

Remove air bubbles with a small utensil.  I find an orange peeler works great for this step. 

Be sure and wipe the rims of your jars clean before placing your lids on.  If there are bits of food it may interfere with the seal. 

Place lids on the jars and process according to Water bath or Pressure Canning instructions.

Remember how your jars were hot when you filled them?  They will most likely cool when you add the tomatoes.  Thus you should have the water in your canner warm/hot but not boiling hot.  You don't want a drastic change in temperature.  Canning jars are pretty sturdy, so they will handle some temperature change... but I'd still not risk placing cool or even room temperature jars in boiling water. 

So have the canner water hot but not boiling when you fill it with the jars. 

Now keep in mind these are raw packed in their own juice.  You should not add water to your jars.  If you add water you change the acidity and there are different processing instructions. 

Also keep in mind, these tomatoes will float.  It is just a fact of this method of canning.  Tomatoes will end up at the top of the jars after processing with more liquid at the bottom. 

It is prettier to make a tomato sauce.... but this style of whole tomatoes has it's place in many of my recipes so I always do a bunch like this.  With this style you can even pull out the tomatoes in the middle of winter to put on a salad.  Definitely mushier than fresh... but they still hold together well enough. 

Processing directions; time and pressure requirements

Processing for a Pressure canner. Process both pints or quarts - process for 25 minutes

Be sure to adjust processing according to your altitude. For more information see this altitude adjustments page.

Processing for a waterbath canner.

Processing for a Water bath Canner Be sure to add lemon juice to each jar.

Be sure to adjust processing according to your altitude. For more information see this altitude adjustments page.

Process both pints or quarts 85 minutes.

Source:  Canning tomatoes NCFHFP 

Canning Tomatoes clean up tip


When I'm canning tomatoes, I like to have two pots set up in my double sink. The one on the left for the cold water to cool the tomatoes as they come out of the blancher.

The one on the right to catch the skins as I slide them off.  

The pots are lower than if you set them on a counter which is easier on the arms and the sink makes for easy clean up.

Questions from Sharon's inbox

Hi I just completed 7 pints of tomato's using its own juice. I followed the Ball instructions.

My jars are cool and are sealed, however I just noticed small air bubbles inside jars. My jars look perfect otherwise.

Is this normal? Do I have to redo again? These bubbles are on top of liquid along the jar walls only and very small. Thank you in advance for any help given.

Yes this is normal. I sometimes get this in my jars too.

I have a question about canning tomatoes.... I am suppose to heat up my jars and lids, then add tomatoes. My question is, after putting the tomatoes in boiling water so the skins split, then into ice cold water to stop them from cooking. Ok the question is.... won't the tomatoes be cold when I put them in the hot jars? And couldn't that cause jar to brake? I am a newbie and this will be my first attempt at canning anything, I just don't want to make a huge mistake.

Answer:  Yes, you are right.  The jars do cool down when you add the tomatoes.  They won't be cold though.  They might be sort of luke warm or even end up room temperature.  That is why you want the water in your canner hot, but not boiling hot.  It can be a bit hotter than your jars, canning jars are pretty sturdy, but don't have a drastic difference in temperature.  Great question.

Related Tomato Products pages

Tomatoes Whole or Halved

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce(meatless)

Stewed Tomatoes

Unseasoned Tomato Sauce

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by Sharon Peterson, Copyright © 2009-2019

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Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You are encouraged to verify all canning and food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website. 

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