Canning Crushed Tomatoes

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In this canning crushed tomatoes picture tutorial, I’ll show you step by step how to can crushed tomatoes so you can enjoy the summer harvest even in the dead of winter. Follow the picture tutorial or find the printable card at the end of the post.


There is nothing more rewarding than picking fresh tomatoes from the vine in the middle of the summer. I don’t think that I’ve ever met a vegetable gardener that doesn’t grow tomatoes. The tomato is the queen of the garden and the highlight of the season!

However, tomatoes don’t store very well… So where you can grow potatoes and store them for a few months, you can’t do this with tomatoes. They have to be processed in some way. I love making a quick pasta sauce and freezing it, I also can stewed tomatoes, can tomato sauce, ferment some of my tomatoes, and freeze whole tomatoes for cooking and later canning. And I often will can crushed tomatoes as well.

Canning Crushed Tomatoes at Home…

Jars of canned crushed tomatoes.

When it comes to homemade canned crushed tomatoes, I love to have them on hand to use in our favorite Southwest chicken chili or the chili that I make with ground beef or in other dishes that call for tomatoes. Canning crushed tomatoes is a very similar process to canning tomato sauce, the only difference is that instead of blending the cooked tomatoes into a smooth sauce we are going to use a potato masher to crush them.

What Kind of Tomatoes are Best For Canning?

Paste tomatoes have less water in them and therefore are better as canning tomatoes simply because it takes less time to cook them. They are thick and meaty. Some of the famous paste tomato varieties are Amish Paste and Roma. If you grow your own tomatoes and plan on canning tomatoes (crushed or sauce or stewed…) it would be a great idea to plant some paste varieties

However, you can can any type of tomato and you can even make a mix of a few varieties. The flavor will change obviously and the cooking time might change depending on the water content of your tomatoes but you can use this tutorial to can any variety of tomatoes (even tiny ones like Matt’s Wild tomatoes if you don’t care about the skin).

You’ll see in this post that I am not canning a variety of paste tomatoes but a mix of whatever came from the garden. If you grow your own tomatoes, make sure to pick your tomatoes at the Green Mature Stage and let them ripen indoors. For canning, we want our tomatoes very red and ripe.

If you get your tomatoes at the farmer’s market, make sure to walk around and ask a few farmers if they have a box of tomatoes that are too ripe that they can sell you at a discounted price. Many farmers will remove too-ripe tomatoes from their table and set them in boxes in the back of their booth. They’ll be happy to sell you tomatoes for canning but often you have to ask if they have over-ripe tomatoes since they hide them (they aren’t too pretty).

Ingredients…

  • Tomatoes – it is said that 2-3 pounds of tomatoes makes one quart of canned crushed tomatoes. I’ve never measured it exactly but this might give you a general idea.
  • Bottled lemon juice or citric acid – tomatoes vary in their acidity levels. In order to can them safely for a long period, we need to add acid. This can either be citric acid or bottled lemon juice. It can’t be fresh lemon juice simply because the acidity of bottled lemon juice is consistant and uniform where with fresh lemon juice things aren’t that clear. The acidity of the bottled lemon juice (or citric acid) will prevent the growth of C. Botulinum bacteria; the bacteria that causes Botulism. 
  • Salt – is optional and I’ll direct you on how to add it (and citric acid if you choose to use it instead of bottled lemon juice in the FAQ section below). I usually prefer not to add salt since I use these canned crushed tomatoes in recipes that I season anyway.

Kitchen Tools…

How to Can Crushed Tomatoes Step By Step…

Step one – prep the tomatoes. The way that you prep your tomatoes might be a tiny bit different if you start with frozen tomatoes or fresh ones…

  • Frozen tomatoes – I used to hurry and can my tomatoes during the growing season before they got too ripe. Many times, I missed the window of time because there is so much going on during the growing season and ended up losing many of my tomatoes.
    No more! What I do now is simply throw my garden tomatoes in a bag in the freezer. They pile up during the season and after the madness of the growing season has passed, let’s say in October or November, I’ll take all of my tomatoes out of the freezer and can all of them at once. The tomatoes that you see in the bowl in the picture above are tomatoes that came out of the freezer. Another great thing about freezing your tomatoes is that after you thaw them you can peel them easily there is no need to blanch them. Just let them thaw a little bit (not all the way) and peel.
  • Fresh tomatoes – if you are using fresh tomatoes and you want to peel them, you’re going to have to blanch them. Fill a large pot with water, set it on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Cut an x at the bottom of each tomato, place a few tomatoes at a time in the boiling water and boil for a couple of minutes. Then transfer the tomatoes into a bowl with icy water to cool for a few minutes. Once you can touch the tomatoes, peel their skin.

Next, remove the core, quarter each tomato, and add to a large stockpot.

Step two – cook the tomatoes. Set the stockpot on the stovetop and turn the heat to high. Bring the tomatoes and their juice to a boil and let boil for five minutes. Make sure to stir frequently. Lower the heat to medium and keep cooking for about two hours.

mashing tomatoes before canning.

Step three – mash the tomatoes. After about two hours, use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes (you can go for larger chunks or smaller, it doesn’t matter). This is also the time to season your crushed tomatoes with salt. You can either do it now or add salt to each jar before canning (I’ll show you how below) if you choose to add salt. Then, keep cooking the tomatoes until the consistency is right for you. For me, it’s usually an additional hour or so.

Canning Crushed Tomatoes At Home…

Bringing water in the water bath canner to a boil.

Step four – prepare for canning. Fill the water bath canner with enough water to cover the jars by about an inch, set on the stovetop, turn the heat to high and bring the water in the canner to a boil. Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot water and soap and set on the counter.

Step five – pack the jars. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a pint jar or 2 tablespoons to a quart jar. Use the ladle and funnel to pack the jars with the hot crushed tomatoes making sure to leave 1 inch of headspace. Use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles from the jar, clean the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel, center the lid, and close the jar with the band fingertight.

Step six – process the jars. Set the filled jars on the rack of the water bath canner and lower the rack into the boiling water. Cover the canner and process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 45 minutes. Remember to adjust processing time according to the table below if you live above 1000 feet in elevation.

Altitude adjustment table.

When the processing time is up, uncover the canner and use the jar lifters to remove the jars from the boiling water. Set them on the kitchen counter on a kitchen towel or on a wooden cutting board to cool undisturbed, overnight.

canned crushed tomatoes ready for storage.

Storing Canned Crushed Tomatoes…

When the jars are completely cool, check that they are all sealed by pressing on the top of the lid. If there is no movement there it means that the jar has been sealed and is ready for storing. Before storing, make sure to remove the band. It’s easier to see what’s happening inside the jar on the top of the food. If mold starts to form or something funky like that, you can see it better if the band is not in the way. It also rusts and makes it hard to open the jar down the road, and, of course, you can use your bands to can something else.

Store your jars on open shelves, in a pantry, or in a kitchen cabinet… Anywhere at room temperature or lower temperature (above freezing, of course) and away from direct sun. Canned crushed tomatoes should last up to 18 months. I personally try to use all of my canned goods within a year.

How to Use Canned Crushed Tomatoes…

  • In any sort of chili like ground beef chili or this Southwest chicken chili recipe.
  • To make this delicious pulled venison (or you can use beef instead).
  • In the sauce of these Mediterranean stuffed pepers instead of the tomato paste.
  • To make shakshuka!
  • In a vegetable soup, a tomato soup, or any other soup that calls for tomatoes.
  • In any casserole that calles for tomatoes.
  • In tomato sauce for pasta or marinera sauce, or homemade piza sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions…

Can I can crushed tomatoes without peeling them?

Yes, you sure can. Most people like to get rid of the skin, however, I canned tomatoes without removing their skin a few times and it came out just fine. The skin does not break down during cooking, but if you don’t mind it you can leave it on.

What if one of my jars didn’t seal?

The easiest thing to do is store it in the fridge and use that one first. If you want to process it again, open the jar, make sure that you have enough headspace, clean the rim, and replace the lid with a new one (it’s often a problem with the seal that caused the jar not to seal properly). Then, process the jar in the water bath canner again.

If I’m using citric acid, how much should I add?

Add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each pint jar or 1/2 teaspoon to each quart jar.

Can I add the salt directly to the jars?

Yes. If you don’t want to salt your tomatoes while they are cooking and instead add the salt directly to the jars, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.

Can I add other vegetables with my tomatoes?

No. Adding other vegetables will result in a change in the acidity and that means that you aren’t going to be able to safely process your tomatoes in the water bath canner. There is a place for canned stewed tomatoes on the shelf (tomatoes cooked with onions, garlic, peppers, celery, and so on), however, there is a different way to process those. Check out my tutorial on canning stewed tomatoes for more information.


I hope this tutorial was helpful! Canning crushed tomatoes is really a great way to make sure you can preserve your harvest and use it throughout the year. There are a million things to do with those and they taste so much better than the crushed tomatoes you’d get at the store!

More Canning Tutorials…

Canning Crushed Tomatoes

Canning Crushed Tomatoes

Yield: N/A
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Processing Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 55 minutes

Canning crushed tomatoes at home for long-term storage.

Ingredients

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Bottled lemon juice or citric acid
  • Salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Step one – prep the tomatoes. The way that you prep your tomatoes might be a tiny bit different if you start with frozen tomatoes or fresh ones…
    Frozen tomatoes - let thaw just a bit and peel. Then quarter and add to a big enough pot.
    Fresh tomatoes - if you are using fresh tomatoes and you want to peel them, you’re going to have to blanch them. Fill a large pot with water, set it on the stovetop, and bring the water to a boil. Cut an x at the bottom of each tomato, place a few tomatoes at a time in the boiling water and boil for a couple of minutes. Then transfer the tomatoes into a bowl with icy water to cool for a few minutes. Once you can touch the tomatoes, peel their skin. Next, remove the core, quarter each tomato, and add to a large stockpot.
  2. Step two – cook the tomatoes. Set the stockpot on the stovetop and turn the heat to high. Bring the tomatoes and their juice to a boil and let boil for five minutes. Make sure to stir frequently. Lower the heat to medium and keep cooking for about two hours.
  3. Step three – mash the tomatoes. After about two hours, use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes (you can go for larger chunks or smaller, it doesn’t matter). This is also the time to season your crushed tomatoes with salt. You can either do it now or add salt to each jar before canning (more on this below) if you choose to add salt. Then, keep cooking the tomatoes until the consistency is right for you. For me, it’s usually an additional hour or so.
  4. Step four – prepare for canning. Fill the water bath canner with enough water to cover the jars by about an inch, set on the stovetop, turn the heat to high and bring the water in the canner to a boil. Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot water and soap and set on the counter.
  5. Step five – pack the jars. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a pint jar or 2 tablespoons to a quart jar. Use the ladle and funnel to pack the jars with the hot crushed tomatoes making sure to leave 1 inch of headspace. Use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles from the jar, clean the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel, center the lid, and close the jar with the band fingertight.
  6. Step six – process the jars. Set the filled jars on the rack of the water bath canner and lower the rack into the boiling water. Cover the canner and process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 45 minutes. Remember to adjust processing time according to the table below if you live above 1000 feet in elevation. When the processing time is up, uncover the canner and use the jar lifters to remove the jars from the boiling water. Set them on the kitchen counter on a kitchen towel or on a wooden cutting board to cool undisturbed, overnight.
  7. Step seven - store the jars. When the jars are completely cool, check that they are all sealed by pressing on the top of the lid. If there is no movement there it means that the jar has been sealed and is ready for storing. Before storing, make sure to remove the band.
    Store your jars on open shelves, in a pantry, or in a kitchen cabinet… Anywhere at room temperature or lower temperature (above freezing, of course) and away from direct sun. Canned crushed tomatoes should last up to 18 months. I personally try to use all of my canned goods within a year.

Notes

2-3 pounds of tomatoes should make about a quart jar or two pints.

Adjust processing time according to the table below...

Frequently Asked Questions...

  1. Can I can crushed tomatoes without peeling them?
    Yes, you sure can. Most people like to get rid of the skin, however, I canned tomatoes without removing their skin a few times and it came out just fine. The skin does not break down during cooking, but if you don’t mind it you can leave it on.
  2. What if one of my jars didn’t seal?
    The easiest thing to do is store it in the fridge and use that one first. If you want to process it again, open the jar, make sure that you have enough headspace, clean the rim, and replace the lid with a new one (it’s often a problem with the seal that caused the jar not to seal properly). Then, process the jar in the water bath canner again.
  3. If I’m using citric acid, how much should I add?
    Add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each pint jar or 1/2 teaspoon to each quart jar.
  4. Can I add the salt directly to the jars?
    Yes. If you don’t want to salt your tomatoes while they are cooking and instead add the salt directly to the jars, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar.
  5. Can I add other vegetables with my tomatoes?
    No. Adding other vegetables will result in a change in the acidity and that means that you aren’t going to be able to safely process your tomatoes in the water bath canner. There is a place for canned stewed tomatoes on the shelf (tomatoes cooked with onions, garlic, peppers, celery, and so on), however, there is a different way to process those. Check out my tutorial on canning stewed tomatoes for more information.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 quart
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 209Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 14gSugar: 30gProtein: 10g

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