Canning Cherry Tomatoes (Two Simple Ways!)

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Canning cherry tomatoes during the growing season is a great way to preserve them for long-term storage. We can do this in two ways; raw pack and hot pack. In this post, I’ll show you how to can cherry tomatoes both ways.


I used to get really frustrated when it came to growing tomatoes. I’d plant the varieties that most people grow, and even though I was able to grow some large tomatoes, each plant didn’t give me many tomatoes (so I had to devote a lot of garden space to planting many plants), I dealt with problems like blossom end rot, and the plants required a lot of work to maintain.

A few years into my gardening journey, I figured that, if instead of the large varieties I grow cherry tomatoes, I end up with just a few plants that were really easy to grow, tomatoes that didn’t have problems like blossom end rot (because they simply require less from the soil in order to form), and enough tomatoes to eat fresh and preserve.

Canning Cherry Tomatoes…

Canned cherry tomatoes ready for processing.

Now, I still grow some of the larger varieties, I freeze them and can them later in the season as tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, however, most of the tomatoes that come out of my garden are cherry tomatoes that we mostly eat fresh but I also can for later.

Cherry tomatoes might not be as popular to cook with as the larger varieties, however, I find that they are packed with flavor (sometimes more than larger tomatoes) and are easy to handle. If you don’t mind their skin and seeds in your dishes, they are just as useful in the kitchen as any other tomato variety.

Two Ways to Can Cherry Tomatoes…

  • Raw Pack – we can simply pack jars with raw cherry tomatoes, add some acid and boiling water and process the tomatoes in the water bath canner.
  • Hot Pack – or, we can cook our tomatoes for a short time before we pack the jars, add acid, and process.

What is the difference between the two methods you are probably wondering… Well, the biggest difference is that you can pack more cherry tomatoes in a jar if you cook them first. Packing the jars with raw tomatoes is easy and takes just a few minutes, however, when you process the jars in the heat of the boiling water, the tomatoes will burst open and release some of their juice and shrink a bit. Sometimes, you’ll end up with a jar that looks half full after it cools. If you are short on jars or storage space and want to make sure you take full advantage of the space in each jar raw pack might not be the way for you to go.

Hot packing cherry tomatoes takes a few more prepping time since we let the tomatoes cook for five minutes or so before packing them. The heat causes the tomatoes to split and release the juices and when you pack the jars you can fit more tomatoes in each jar. You can also use the juices of the tomatoes as your canning liquid which I think is more flavorful than using just water like in the raw pack.

To give you an idea, I was able to pack a cup and a half of Matt’s Wild tomatoes (marble size) in each pint-size jar using the raw pack method, vs. two and a half cups of tomatoes in each jar using the hot pack method.

My preferred method is the hot pack, however, I’ll show you both ways and you can decide which one you’d like to try. Or, for the first few times, try both ways and examine the end result. Then, you’ll have a better idea of which way works better for you.

Matt's Wild tomatoes from the garden.

Ingredients…

  • Cherry tomatoes – in this tutorial, you’ll see me using my beloved Matt’s Wild tomatoes. These are my main tomato variety that I grow in my garden. They are very flavorful, very easy to grow, and the plants produce a ton of tomatoes. Since they are so small (marble size), it’s easy for them to ripen and the plants can keep on producing tomatoes all the way to Thanksgiving. You can learn all about Matt’s Wild tomatoes here.
    You can use these canning methods to can any kind of cherry tomatoes. Make sure that the tomatoes are ripe and since we are not going to remove the skin it’s a good idea to choose varieties with thin skin so it’s not too much in the way later when you use your tomatoes for cooking.
  • Lemon juice or citric acid – we are going to need to add just a little bit of acidity to each jar so we can safely process it in the water bath canner. If you choose to use lemon juice, it has to be bottled lemon juice and not fresh lemon juice. The acidity of the bottled lemon juice is known and stable whereas the acidity of fresh lemon juice is not something that we can control or measure.
    Another option is to use citric acid. If you are making cheese at home, you might have it on hand (it can be ordered online), if not, bottled lemon juice might be easier to come by at the local grocery store.
  • Salt – is optional and I usually leave it out since I use my canned tomatoes in dishes that will be seasoned. If you choose to add salt to your canned cherry tomatoes, make sure that you are using non-iodized salt like sea salt, canning salt, or Kosher salt.
  • Boiling water – if you choose to raw pack your tomatoes you’ll have to use some boiling water. It’s always better to use non chlorinated water when canning.

Kitchen Tools…

Canning Cherry Tomatoes – Raw Pack…

Packing cherry tomatoes in jars for canning.

Step one – prep the canner and pack the tomatoes. Before you start prepping your tomatoes for canning, go ahead and fill your water bath canner with enough water to cover the jars that you are going to use by about an inch. Set it on the stovetop, cover the canner and bring the water to a boil. Also, wash your jars, lids, and bands in hot water and soap. There is no need to sanitize them, they just need to be clean.

Wash the tomatoes well in cold water and add them to the jars. Pack them tight but make sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace.

Adding citric acid and boiling water to the jars of cherry tomatoes.

Step two – add acid and boiling water. To each pint jar, add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid, or 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. To each quart jar, add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. If you choose to add salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.

Wait until the water in the water bath canner is boiling and you are ready to process your raw pack tomatoes before you add the boiling water to each jar. Make sure to leave about 1/2 inch of headspace.

Jars of raw pack cherry tomatoes ready for processing.

Step three – close the jars. Use the bubble remover to scrape the inside of the jar and remove air bubbles. Then use a damp paper towel to clean the rim of the jar. Center the lid and close the jar with the band finger tight. Your raw pack cherry tomatoes are ready for processing in the water bath canner.

Canning Cherry Tomatoes – Hot Pack…

Adding cherry tomatoes to a a pan to cook before hot packing them in jars.

Step one – add tomatoes to a pan. Wash the tomatoes well and add them to a pan with a little bit of water. For five cups of small cherry tomatoes, I added one cup of water.

Boiling cherry tomatoes before canning.

Step two – cook the tomatoes. Set the pan on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the tomatoes to a boil and let boil for five minutes before turning the heat off.

Packing jars with hot pack tomatoes.

Step three – pack the jars. Use the canning funnel and your large spoon to scoop the hot tomatoes and their juice into the jars. Make sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace. To each pint jar, add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid, or 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. To each quart jar, add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. If you choose to add salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.

Use the bubble remover to scrape the inside of the jar and remove air bubbles. Then use a damp paper towel to clean the rim of the jar. Center the lid and close the jar with the band finger tight. Your hot pack cherry tomatoes are ready for processing in the water bath canner.

Processing Cherry Tomatoes…

Processing raw pack and hot pack cherry tomatoes in the water bath canner.

Step four – process the jars. Set the jars of cherry tomatoes on the rack of the water bath canner. Lower the rack to the boiling water, cover the canner, and process quart jars in the boiling water for 40 minutes and pint jars for 35 minutes. Remember to adjust processing time according to the table below if you live above 1000 feet in elevation.

Boiling water altitude adjustment table.

Once processing time is over, turn the heat off and uncover the canner. Let the jars rest in the hot water for five minutes before removing them. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner and set them on a kitchen towel on the kitchen counter to cool overnight.

How to Store Canned Cherry Tomatoes…

Once your jars have cooled completely check that they are all sealed before storing them. Press the center of each lid and if there is no movement there it means that the jar has sealed. If you have a jar that didn’t seal, you can try to process it again or store it in the fridge and use it first. If you choose to process it again, I recommend changing the lid since many times it’s the lid that causes the problem.

Wipe the jars and remove the band since it usually rusts over time and makes it hard to open the jar later. Store your jars of canned cherry tomatoes in a dark and cool place like a pantry for up to 18 months.

How to Use Canned Cherry Tomatoes…

  • In any dish that calls for tomatoes – I use my cherry tomatoes in any recipe that calls for tomatoes like this Southwest chicken chili or pulled venison.
  • In drinks – bloody Mary anyone?
  • In tomato soup – is there anything better than a tomato soup from summer garden tomatoes in the dead of winter? I think not.
  • To make pasta sauce – creamy tomato pasta sauce is always better with fresh tomatoes. Home canned summer cherry tomatoes are as close as you can get to fresh tomatoes in the winter months and they behave very well in a pasta sauce!
  • To make salsa – cherry tomatoes are great for making homemade salsa! Just open the jar and use them in any salsa recipe like this one.

Frequently Asked Questions…

Does it matter what kind of cherry tomatoes I’m canning?

No, you can follow this tutorial to can any kind of cherry tomatoes even black ones, or orange ones, or yellow ones or cherry tomatoes in different shapes.

Is processing time the same for raw pack and hot pack?

Yes, the same processing time for both methods. 40 minutes for quarts and 35 for pints. Remember to adjust if you live higher than 1000 feet in elevation.

My tomatoes are sour, do I still need to add acid before canning?

Yes, just a little bit to make sure that they’ll last on the shelf for a long time.

Can I season my tomatoes?

It’s better not to because when we start adding different ingredients we change the levels of acidity. When you do that, you might need to process your tomatoes in a pressure canner instead of in the water bath canner as I do when canning stewed tomatoes.


I love growing cherry tomatoes! They are easy to pick, fun to eat fresh right off the trellis, and each plant produces a ton of tomatoes. They might not be as popular when it comes to canning tomatoes but since they are so easy to grow and we always have a ton of them I find that canning cherry tomatoes is actually a great way to preserve them. I enjoy adding them to dishes and cooking with them just as much as I enjoy eating them fresh. If you find yourself with a whole lot of cherry tomatoes don’t hesitate to can them!

More Canning Tutorials…

My Tomato Growing Videos on You Tube…

Canning Cherry Tomatoes (Two Simple Ways!)

Canning Cherry Tomatoes (Two Simple Ways!)

Yield: Four pints
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Processing Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Canning cherry tomatoes in two ways: raw pack and hot pack.

Ingredients

  • Cherry tomatoes (see notes)
  • Citric acid or bottled lemon juice
  • Non-iodized salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Before you start prepping your tomatoes for canning, go ahead and fill your water bath canner with enough water to cover the jars that you are going to use by about an inch. Set it on the stovetop, cover the canner and bring the water to a boil. Also, wash your jars, lids, and bands in hot water and soap. There is no need to sanitize them, they just need to be clean.
  2. Raw pack - wash your tomatoes well in cold water. Pack the jars tight but make sure to leave about an inch of headspace. To each pint jar, add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid, or 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. To each quart jar, add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. If you choose to add salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.
  3. Add boiling water to each jar leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Use the bubble remover to scrape the inside of the jar and remove air bubbles. Then use a damp paper towel to clean the rim of the jar. Center the lid and close the jar with the band finger tight. Your raw pack cherry tomatoes are ready for processing in the water bath canner.
  4. Hot pack - Wash the tomatoes well and add them to a pan with a little bit of water. For five cups of small cherry tomatoes, I added one cup of water (just to give you an idea). Set the pan on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the tomatoes to a boil and let boil for five minutes before turning the heat off.
  5. Use the canning funnel and a large spoon to scoop the hot tomatoes and their juice into the jars. Make sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace. To each pint jar, add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid, or 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice. To each quart jar, add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. If you choose to add salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.
  6. Use the bubble remover to scrape the inside of the jar and remove air bubbles. Then use a damp paper towel to clean the rim of the jar. Center the lid and close the jar with the band finger tight. Your hot pack cherry tomatoes are ready for processing in the water bath canner.
  7. Set the jars of cherry tomatoes on the rack of the water bath canner. Lower the rack to the boiling water, cover the canner, and process pint jars in the boiling water for 40 minutes and pint jars for 35 minutes. Remember to adjust processing time according to the table in the notes if you live above 1000 feet in elevation.
  8. Once processing time is over, turn the heat off and uncover the canner. Let the jars rest in the hot water for five minutes before removing them. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner and set them on a kitchen towel on the kitchen counter to cool overnight.
  9. Once your jars have cooled completely check that they are all sealed before storing them. Wipe the jars and remove the band since it usually rusts over time and makes it hard to open the jar later. Store your jars of canned cherry tomatoes in a dark and cool place like a pantry for up to 18 months.

Notes

To give you an idea, I was able to pack a cup and a half of Matt's Wild tomatoes (marble size) in each pint jar in the cold pack method or two and a half cups of cooked tomatoes in a pint jar in the hot pack method. The advantage of the hot pack method is that you can pack more tomatoes in each jar.

Adjust processing time according to the table below...

Frequently Asked Questions...

  1. Does it matter what kind of cherry tomatoes I’m canning?
    No, you can follow this tutorial to can any kind of cherry tomatoes even black ones, or orange ones, or yellow ones or cherry tomatoes in different shapes.
  2. Is processing time the same for raw pack and hot pack?
    Yes, the same processing time for both methods. 40 minutes for quarts and 35 for pints. Remember to adjust if you live higher than 1000 feet in elevation.
  3. My tomatoes are sour, do I still need to add acid before canning? Yes, just a little bit to make sure that they’ll last on the shelf for a long time.
  4. Can I season my tomatoes?
    I
    t’s better not to because when we start adding different ingredients we change the levels of acidity. When you do that, you might need to process your tomatoes in a pressure canner instead of in the water bath canner as I do when canning stewed tomatoes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 pint jar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 10Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 146mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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