Canning Tomato Products




Following are general instructions for canning tomato products, including selection, acidification, and preparation and processing. Also included in this fact sheet are recipes for other tomato products and answers to commonly asked questions about homemade tomato products.

General Tomato Product Canning Instructions

Tomato Selection

Select only disease-free, preferably vine-ripened, firm fruit for canning. Do not can tomatoes from dead or dying vines. Unripe tomatoes are more acidic than ripened fruit and can be canned safely with any of the following recommendations. Treat all ripe tomatoes (yellow, green, pink, orange, red, etc.) the same.

Acidification of Tomato Products

To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes use the following recommendations.

AcidPintQuart
Bottled lemon juice 1 Tablespoon2 Tablespoons
Citric acid1/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon
Vinegar2 Tablespoons4 Tablespoons

Add acid directly to the jars before filling with product. If desired, add up to 1 Tablespoon of sugar per quart to offset acid taste. Vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.

Sodium

The use of salt is optional in all canned tomato products. Salt is used in canning only for flavor or color protection.

Processing

Even though both boiling water bath and pressure processing times are given (see Tables 1 and 2), pressure processing will result in higher quality and more nutritious canned tomato products.

Tomato Juice

An average of 23 pounds of tomatoes is needed per canner load of 7 quarts, or an average of 14 pounds per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel yields 15 to 18 pounds per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel yields 15 to 18 quarts of juice.

Wash tomatoes, remove stems, and trim off bruised or discolored portions. To prevent juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound of fruit into quarters and put directly into saucepan. Heat immediately to boiling while crushing. Continue to add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while you add the remaining tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes after you add all pieces.

If you are not concerned about juice separation, simply slice or quarter tomatoes into a saucepan. Crush, heat, and simmer for 5 minutes before juicing.

Press heated tomatoes through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Heat juice again to boiling. Acidify (see acidification instructions above). If desired, add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars. Fill jar with hot tomato juice, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Tables 1 and 2.

What causes tomato juice to separate in the jar?

Liquid at the top and solids at the bottom indicates that the juice was made prior to heating (perhaps run through the steamer, sieve, or food mill raw). The enzyme that causes separation is activated by exposure to air and inactivated by heat. Leave tomatoes whole or in large chunks (do not chop). Heat before juicing to minimize separation.

Liquid at the bottom and solids at the top indicates too much preheating (more than 5 minutes). Pectin breaks down when overheated and separation results. If separation occurs, shake the jar before opening.

Tomato-Vegetable Juice Blend

An average of 22 pounds of tomatoes is needed per canner load of 7 quarts. Not more than 3 cups of other vegetables should be added for each 22 pounds of tomatoes.

Crush and simmer tomatoes as for making tomato juice. Add no more than 3 cups of any combination of finely chopped celery, onions, carrots, and peppers. Simmer mixture 20 minutes. Press hot cooked tomatoes and vegetables through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Reheat tomato-vegetable juice blend to boiling. Acidify (see acidification instructions on page 1). If desired, add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart. Fill clean jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Tables 1 and 2.

Tomato Sauce

For a thin sauce, an average of 35 pounds of tomatoes is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 21 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel yields 10 to 12 quarts of sauce.

For thick sauce, an average of 46 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 28 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel yields 7 to 9 quarts of sauce.

Prepare and press as for making tomato juice. Simmer in a wide saucepan until sauce reaches desired consistency. Volume is reduced by about one-third for thin sauce, or by one-half for thick sauce. Acidify (see acidification directions on page 1). If desired, add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars. Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Tables 1 and 2.

Spaghetti Sauce Without Meat

30 pounds tomatoes
1 cup chopped onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped celery or green pepper
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
4 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons oregano
4 Tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Yields 9 pints

Do not increase the proportion of onions, celery, peppers, or mushrooms. 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 large saucepan. Put through food mill or sieve. If desired, saute onions, garlic, celery, pepper, and mushrooms in vegetable oil until tender.

Combine sauteed vegetables and tomatoes and add remainder of spices, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until thick enough for serving. At this time, the initial volume will have been reduced by nearly one-half. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Fill jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Table 1.

Tomato Ketchup

24 pounds ripe tomatoes
3 cups chopped onions
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
3 cups cider vinegar (5 percent)
4 teaspoons whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
3 Tablespoons celery seeds
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup salt

Yields 6 to 7 pints

Wash tomatoes. Dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water. Slip off skins and remove cores.

Quarter tomatoes into 4-gallon stock pot or a large kettle. Add onions and red pepper. Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes, uncovered. Cover, turn off heat, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Combine spices in a spice bag and add to vinegar in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove spice bag and combine vinegar and tomato mixture. Boil about 30 minutes. Put boiled mixture through a food mill or sieve. Return to pot. Add sugar and salt, boil gently, and stir frequently until volume is reduced by one-half or until mixture rounds up on spoon without separation. Fill pint jars, leaving 1/8-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as described in Table 2.

What causes the deposit around the top surface of some tomato products?

A white crystalline deposit of calcium acetate may form in highly acidic tomato products, such as chili sauce, ketchup, or salsa. Reaction between the acid (acetic acid) in the food and a component (calcium carbonate in some brands of lids forms calcium acetate). The crystalline deposit is not harmful. When the jar is opened, remove, and discard crystals.

Chile Salsa

5 pounds tomatoes
2 pounds chile peppers
1 pound onions
1 cup vinegar (5 percent)
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Yields 6 to 8 pints

Wear rubber gloves while handling chiles or wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face. Peel chile peppers by placing them in a 400 degree F oven for 6-8 minutes until skins blister. Allow peppers to cool, then place in pan and cover with a damp cloth. This will make peeling easier. After several minutes, peel each pepper. Slice, discard seeds, and chop.

Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water, slip off skins, and remove cores. Coarsely chop tomatoes and combine chopped peppers, onions, and remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat to boil, then simmer 10 minutes. Fill jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process jars as described in Table 2.

Table 1. Recommended process times for canning tomato products in a pressure canner
Canner gauge pressure (psi) at different altitudes
Dial gaugeWeighted gauge
ProductStyle of packJar sizeProcess time0-2,000 ft.0-1,000 ft.1,000+ ft.
Tomato juiceHotPints or quarts 20 min. at6 lb.5 lb.10 lb.
Pints or quarts15 at111015
Tomato-vegetable juice blendHotPints or quarts 20 at 65 10
Pints or quarts15 at1110 15
Tomato sauceHotPints or quarts20 at6510
Pints or quarts15 at111015
Spaghetti sauce without meatHotPints20 at111015
Quarts25 at111015


Table 2. Recommended process times for canning tomato products in boiling water canner
Minutes of proccessing at different altitudes
ProductStyle of packJar size0-1,000 ft.1,000-3,000 ft.
Tomato juiceHot Pints 35 min.40 min.
Quarts4045
Tomato-vegetable juice blendHotPints 3540
Quarts4045
Tomato sauceHotPints3540
Quarts4045
KetchupHotPints1520
Chile salsaHotPints1520



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References
Publication HYG-5337-97, The Ohio State University Extension, Human Nutrition
1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212


Complete Guide to Home Canning. United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539.
Putting Food By (Fourth Ed.). Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaugh, The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington, Massachusetts.
So Easy to Preserve (Third Ed.). Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, College of Agriculture, Athens.
Information Updated by Marcia Jess, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ottawa County

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.
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