Right now the tomato harvest is plentiful and for those at home, there can be more tomatoes than you know what to do with. Canning is an invaluable method of preserving midsummer’s harvest of the beautiful, abundant crop. Canned tomatoes are staple pantry items that are always good to have around, whether it’s to add to a braise for that extra unctuous mouthfeel or to make a quick midwinter marinara for a favorite pasta dish. For this recipe you’ll need canning equipment, a full list which can be found here. The majority of tomatoes we grow on the farm are heirloom varietals, which means that their skin can be a bit thick. For canning I like to blanch and peel the tomatoes to avoid the textures of the skins.
15 pounds ripe whole tomatoes
3/4 cup lemon juice
6 quart-size jars with rings and new sealable lids
canning pot with rack
Fill a large pot or canning kettle with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to cut a small “x” in the bottom of each tomato. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it near the pot. Once the water is boiling, gently drop the tomatoes in. Cook them for about a minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them directly into the ice water. Once the tomatoes have cooled off enough so that you can handle them, use a sharp paring knife to remove the tomato skins which should peel off easily.
Bring a pot of fresh water back to a boil and put the jars in the canning rack, then boil the empty jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Put the lids in separately, also for 10 minutes, to soften the sealant. Remove the jars from the water (empty any water back into the pot and bring back to a boil).
Put 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice in each jar. Stuff the jars evenly with the tomatoes; make sure to really pack them in, releasing the juices to create enough liquid to cover them. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jars. After wiping the edges of the jars clean, place the lids and rims on the jars, set the jars in the canning rack, and lower them into the boiling water in the canning kettle or other large pot. Cook, with the water boiling the whole time, for 45 minutes. Remove cans from their water bath and set them on a counter to dry and cool. Store jars in a cool, dark place until ready to use. The canned tomatoes will last up to a year.