Canning Diced Tomatoes
Tomato season comes in high as one of my favorite times of year. It has nothing to do with eating fresh tomatoes, though, because I have never really been a huge fan of doing so. Now that we grow our own tomatoes (and boy does it just blow your mind how poorly grocery store tomatoes taste after being shipped from across the world!) I do tend to eat them raw more often. Their flavor is absolutely amazing, and I have to owe that to the sun - our tomatoes are grown in ground outdoors - and to being interplanted with basil for flavor enhancement. The reason that tomato season is an exciting time for me is because I love to cook with them and can them! Tomatoes, if picked at the blushing stage, can last a fairly long time on the counter. This is usually between 1-2 weeks depending on how they were stored and the variety. Once they start to get soft and overly red, I make the decision to can them or feed them to the chickens.
Last year I canned about 15 jars of diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, and salsa. It was not enough! We went through our diced tomatoes in less than two months, and I was so sad! There was truly nothing better than reaching for a jar of those garden fresh tomatoes to use in pasta dishes, soups, stews, sauces, and more. I really loved it, and I felt so good being able to preserve my harvest. Once vegetables and fruit get to the point of perishing, I feel so lucky to be able to still harness their flavor in a jar. There is something really homey and satisfying about canning your own homegrown vegetables. The nice thing is that canning tomatoes is really easy since they are an acidic vegetable! All you need is a hot water bath canner.
How to Can Diced Tomatoes
- Hot Water Bath Canner or large stock pot (able to fill water well over pint jars)
- 4-5 pint jars, new lids, and bands
- Tool to remove the hot jars
- 6 pounds Roma or paste tomatoes
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
- Prepare your boiling water bath and canning supplies. Heat the jars in the water for at least 10 minutes, or at a simmer while you prepare the tomatoes. Do not boil. Place the lids and rings in a small saucepan and simmer gently. Add a few tablespoons of vinegar to both pots to prevent the glass and lids from fogging up while processing.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it heats prepare the tomatoes. Core them by slicing out the middle with a small sharp knife and slice an X into the bottoms. This will help when you peel the skins off. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Working in batches, boil a handful of tomatoes for 1-2 minutes. Immediately transfer the blanched tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins from where you sliced the X in the bottom and discard. Roughly chop the tomato meats and place into a stockpot. Try to save as much of the juices as possible!
- Repeat this process until all of the tomatoes have been successfully peeled and chopped. You will find a rhythm with this. It helps to allow the hot water to return to boiling before each batch of tomatoes goes in and to have more ice on hand. If the water is not hot enough, the skins may be tough to remove.
- Place the stockpot with the chopped tomatoes and juices over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring constantly, until the tomatoes have broken down and thickened.
- Remove the hot jars from the boiling water bath and fill each with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. This helps with acidity. Ladle the hot tomatoes into the hot jars. Wipe the rims. Take a wooden spoon and move the tomatoes around to remove any air bubbles; you can also tap the jars gently on the countertop a few times. Place on the lids on and screw on the rings, fingertip tight.
- Process in the boiling water bath with the lid on for 35 minutes. Remove from the water and wait for the seals to pop. Test the seals after 12-24 hours.
That's all there is to it! As a farmer, I find that I spend a lot of my afternoons during the hottest part of the day canning. It helps to know that while I couldn't sell my harvest, I am still able to make use of it. Now that we do farm, all of the ugly tomatoes tend to end up on our table and that is totally fine! Ha!
Are you growing your own tomatoes? Which paste varieties did you plant?