A few weeks ago, I was at a pasta-making workshop at Ristorante Rafele, organized by Instrata residences (I’m not a resident, they just let me tag along), when a breathtaking sight took my attention completely away from the fresh gnocchi. It was a long shelf running across the top of three walls, and it was lined with big bottles of tomatoes canned at the peak of freshness.
Years ago, when I was much more organized and dedicated than I am now, I bottled an insane amount of fresh heirloom tomatoes. And then I enjoyed eating them all winter long. It was like eating the freaking sun, people. Incredible.
I’ve always meant to do it again, and now I can, this time knowing what I’m doing. Here’s the easy four-step method from the new All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving.
By the way, about that myth that you have to add sugar to canned tomatoes or tomato sauce? Chef Raffaele Ronca says that’s not at all necessary if you’re using super-fresh, locally grown tomatoes. And as someone who skipped the sugar when I canned mine, I have to agree.
Winter you is going to be so glad you canned tomatoes this summer.
Canned tomatoes in 4 easy steps
Yields 2 (1-pint/500-milliliter) jars or 1 (1-quart/1-liter) jar*
- Wash 8 – 10 tomatoes (2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds/1.25 to 1.5 kilograms). With a paring knife, cut a small X in the blossom end of each tomato. Dip in boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds, then immediately plunge into cold water. Core and peel. Halve, quarter or leave whole, as desired.
- Choose 1 packing method according to the packing methods for canned tomatoes listed below.
- Before adding tomatoes to 1-pint (500-milliliter) jars, working with 1 hot jar at a time, add 1/4 teaspoon (1 milliliter) of Ball citric acid or 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of bottled lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon (1 milliliter) of salt (optional). Add the tomatoes. Remove any air bubbles.
- Process the jars for the time indicated in the instructions below, adjusting for altitude. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove the jars, and let them cool.
*If making 1-quart (1-liter) jars, add 1/2 teaspoon (2 milliliters) of Ball citric acid or 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of salt (optional) to each hot jar. Add the tomatoes. Remove any air bubbles. Proceed with step 4.
Packing methods for canned tomatoes
Packed in own juice
Pack raw, peeled tomatoes into hot jars 1 at a time, pressing gently on the tomatoes until the natural juice fills the spaces between the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) of headspace. Process 1-pint (500-milliliter) or 1-quart (1-liter) jars for 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Packed in water (raw pack)
Bring 2 cups (500 milliliters) of water to a boil; reduce heat, and keep hot. Pack raw, peeled tomatoes into hot jars 1 at a time, leaving 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) of headspace. Ladle hot water over the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) of headspace. Process 1-pint (500-milliliter) jars for 40 minutes or 1-quart (1-liter) jars for 45 minutes.
Packed in water (hot pack)
In a large, stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven, bring the tomatoes and just enough water to cover them to a boil; reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, pack the hot tomatoes into hot jars 1 at a time, leaving 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) of headspace. Ladle the hot cooking liquid over the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) of headspace. Process 1-pint (500-milliliter) jars for 40 minutes or 1-quart (1-liter) jars for 45 minutes.