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…

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.
#canningcrushedtomatoes #howtocancrushedtomatoes #canningtomatoes

I use my tomato sauce mostly for making pasta sauce. I’m not sure why, but I don’t like chunks of tomatoes on my pasta. I prefer it to be more of a smooth sauce.

I also use my tomato sauce to make pizza sauce and use it to top my homemade pizza dough before I add the cheese and other toppings.

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 but that are not sauces.

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.

Let me show you how…

Here is what we are going to go over…

  1. What kind of tomatoes are best for canning?
  2. The equipment we are going to need for canning crushed tomatoes.
  3. Preparing the tomatoes for cooking.
  4. Cooking the tomatoes (and crushing them).
  5. Preparing the water bath canner.
  6. Preparing the jars and lids for canning.
  7. Packing the jars with crushed tomatoes.
  8. Processing stewed tomato jars in the water bath.
  9. Storing and using canned crushed tomatoes.

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 them if they have them since they hide them (they are not too pretty).

All right friends, let’s first collect the canning equipment and kitchen tools that we are going to need…

The Equipment That We Are Going to Need…

Mixing bowl – to hold our tomatoes.

Cutting board – for preparing the tomatoes for cooking.

Knife – for cutting the tomatoes into large chunks.

Stockpot – make sure that you have a large enough pot to cook all the tomatoes.

Wooden spoon – to stir the goodness.

Potato masher – to crush the tomatoes.

Pint or quart jars – I used both sizes and I’ll give you instructions for processing both sizes but I prefer the pint jars (just didn’t have enough of them). I use the regular mouth jars.

Lids and rings – you can always reuse rings as long as they are still in good shape. However, it’s always advised to use new lids to make sure the jars seal properly.

A small pot – to boil the rings and lids.

Measuring spoon – we’ll need that to measure and add lemon juice to each jar.

Ladle – we are going to use that to help us pack the jars with crushed tomatoes.

Canning utensils – we’ll use the funnel, jar lifters, bubble remover, lid lifter…

Paper towel – to clean the rim of the jar before we cover and close the jar.

Water bath canner – to process the jars.

Ok, we have our tomatoes and our equipment… Let’s can crushed tomatoes!

Preparing the Tomatoes For Cooking…

Tomatoes in a bowl.

I used to hurry and can my tomatoes during the growing season before they got too ripe and started to rot. 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 throwing my garden tomatoes in a bag in the freezer. They pile up in the freezer during the season and then, 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.

I might have to block a whole day for caning tomatoes but that’s fine with me. I find that it saves me a whole lot of time and makes the growing season a tiny bit easier.

So the tomatoes that you see in the bowl in the picture above are tomatoes that came out of the freezer.

I am going to note here that “they” say that 2 to 3 lb of tomatoes make one quart of canned tomatoes but I did not weight my tomatoes. Maybe you can use this as a general guideline if you need one…

Peeling tomatoes.

Another great thing about freezing your tomatoes is that after you thaw them you can peel them easily.

In the past, I processed tomatoes without peeling them and personally I don’t mind the skin very much. It blends in and I barely feel it. But most people like to peel their tomatoes before canning them.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, you can boil them for a couple of minutes and then peel the skin. If you want to see how this is done you can follow the picture tutorial that I have on canning tomato sauce.

If you are using frozen tomatoes, let them thaw just a little bit and then peel the skin. I find that it’s easier to handle the tomatoes (peel and cut them) when they are still mostly frozen. If you let them thaw all the way you’ll have a tomato juice mess on the counter while you try to prepare them.

Another option is to use a food strainer. I don’t have one but I hear that many people love it because you can get rid of the skin and the seeds at the same time.

I personally don’t bother removing the seeds. They don’t bother me and I am not sure if a strainer would work here because it makes a sauce from the tomatoes in the process and our goal here is to can crushed tomatoes.

Cutting the tomatoes.

After I peel my tomatoes, I remove the core, cut them into large chunks…

Adding tomatoes into a large stockpot.

And add the large pieces into a stockpot.

Cooking the Tomatoes…

Cooking the tomatoes.

Then it’s cooking time. I set the stockpot on the stovetop, turn the heat to high and bring the tomatoes to a boil…

Stirring and cooking the tomatoes.

I make sure to stir them frequently. I let them boil for five minutes or so before I lower the heat to medium.

I keep cooking them, uncovered, for about two hours, stirring frequently.

Crushing the tomatoes.

After about two hours, I use my potato masher to mash the tomatoes. You can leave them in larger chunks or you can really mash them well. It’s up to you.

After I mash my tomatoes, I keep cooking them until the consistency is right for me. Usually, it takes me an additional hour or so.

You can leave your crushed tomatoes in a lot of juice and can them this way or you can cook them further and get rid of most of the juice. I like them a little thicker so I keep cooking and stirring a little longer.

You can also add salt at this point if you’d like. I prefer seasoning my tomatoes when I use them because every dish might call for different seasonings.

Also, you have to be careful that what you add doesn’t change the acidity of the crushed tomatoes.

For example, if you add onions or peppers you now have stewed tomatoes and not crushed tomatoes and you’ll have to pressure can your tomatoes instead of processing the jars in the water bath as we are going to do here.

There is definitely a place for stewed tomatoes on the pantry shelf, but when I can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes I prefer to keep it super simple. I don’t add salt or any other seasoning to my canned stewed tomatoes, but you can.

Preparing the Water Bath Canner…

Preparing the water bath canner.

About 30 minutes before my tomatoes are ready, I fill the water bath canner with water and set it on the stovetop. I set the temperature to high and let the water start heating.

Keep in mind that we want the packed jars to be covered by about an inch of water so depending on if you are using quart jars or pint jars, fill your canner with enough water.

Preparing the Jars and Lids For Canning…

Lids and rings in a pot of water.

A few minutes before the tomatoes are done cooking, I add the lids and jars to a small pot, cover them with just enough water and set on the stovetop.

I turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Then, let the lids and rings boil for five minutes or so before turning the heat off.

Washing and preparing the jars.

Once the tomatoes are done cooking I turn the heat off and set the pot on the counter then I go to work on preparing the jars.

I use hot water and a little bit of dish soap. Once the jars are washed I set them on the cutting board and make sure to not touch the rim of the jar from here on out.

I used to sterilize them in the water bath for ten minutes before canning (just placing them in the boiling water in the canner like in the picture below) but I don’t really do this anymore.

I find that it’s enough to wash them with hot water and a little bit of soap but this might not be “by the book”.

Jars being sterilized in the water bath.

If you want to sterilize your jars you can place them on the rack inside of the canner. At this point, the water in the canner is boiling. Let your jars sterilize in the boiling water for ten minutes or so then remove them from the canner and set them on the counter by the stockpot.

Packing the Jars With Crushed Tomatoes…

Adding lemon juice to each jar.

Ok, my crushed tomatoes are hot and ready to go, the lids and rings are ready, the jars are clean, and the water in the canner is boiling.

Just note here, that when canning food, it’s very important to keep similar temperatures. So if your tomatoes are ready before the water in the canner is boiling, just keep the crushed tomatoes on the stovetop a little longer on low heat.

Once everything is ready, it’s time to pack the jars!

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 as I did here, bottled lemon juice (it can not be fresh lemon juice. We want the consistency and even acidity that is in the bottled juice).

The acidity of the bottled lemon juice or the citric acid will prevent the growth of C. Botulinum bacteria; the bacteria that causes Botulism.

Some say that the lemon juice changes the taste of the tomato sauce, I personally don’t notice a change in taste so I use bottled lemon juice (it’s also easier to come by locally).

I go ahead and add the lemon juice before I pack the jar. I add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a pint jar or 2 tablespoons to a quart jar.

Packing the jars with crushed tomatoes.

Then I use the ladle and funnel to pack the jars with the crushed tomatoes…

Leaning 1'' headspace.

Making sure to leave 1” headspace.

Removing air bubbles.

Next, I use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles from the jar…

Cleaning the rim of the jar.

I clean the rim of the jar with a clean paper towel…

Covering the jar with the kid.

And use the magnetic lid lifter to lift a lid from the pot of hot water and center it on the jar.

Crushed tomato jar is ready for canning.

Lastly, I use the lid lifter to lift a ring from the hot water and set it on the jar. I close the jar finger tight (not too tight).

I use the jar lifters to lift the jar and set it inside of the canner on the rack, then I go to work on the next jar and do the same until all of my jars are in the canner.

Processing Crushed Tomato Jars…

Processing canned tomatoes in the water bath.

Once my jars are all in the canner (I make sure they don’t touch each other), I bring the water back to a boil and process the jar.

Since I live under 1000 feet in elevation, I process my pint jars for 35 minutes and my quart jars for 45 minutes.

If you live above 1000 feet in elevation, make sure to adjust according to the table below…

Altitude adjustment table.

When the processing time is up, I use my jar lifters to lift the jars out of the canner and I set them on a kitchen towel on the counter or on my wooden cutting board to cool.

I love hearing the sound of the jars sealing!

I leave my jars undisturbed overnight (at least 12 hours).

Storing and Using Canned Crushed Tomatoes…

Canning crushed tomatoes - canned jars of crushed tomatoes.

When the jars are completely cool, I check that they all sealed by pressing on the top of the lid. If there is no movement there it means that the jar has sealed and is ready for storing.

I make sure to remove the ring. I do this so I can see better what’s happening inside the jar on the top of the food. If mold starts to form or something funky like that, I can see it better if the ring is not in the way.

I store my jars on open shelves because I don’t really have a pantry. You can store them in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet… Anywhere at room temperature or lower temperature and away from direct sun.

I am sure that they can last longer than a year. Personally, I feel like canned food starts to lose it’s flavor after a year so I try to use all of my canned food within a year.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I mostly use crushed tomatoes when I make chili or in any other dish that calls for fresh tomatoes.


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.

Here is the handy printable…

Canning Crushed Tomatoes

Canning Crushed Tomatoes

Yield: Pint or quart jars of canned crushed tomatoes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

How to can crushed tomatoes at home safely.

Ingredients

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Bottled lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Peel your tomatoes. If you are using frozen tomatoes like the ones I used in the tutorial, let them thaw just a little bit and peel them.
    If you are using fresh tomatoes, cut an X at the bottom of each tomato and boil the tomatoes for a couple of minutes. Remove from the water, let cool, and peel the skin.
  2. Remove the core and cut your tomatoes into large pieces. Add the tomatoes into a large enough pot.
  3. Set your pot of tomatoes on the stovetop and set the temperature to high. Bring the pot to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, then lower the heat to medium.
  4. Cook your tomatoes, uncovered, for approximately two hours.
  5. Use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes to your desired consistency.
  6. At this point, you can add some salt or other seasonings if you'd like.
  7. Keep cooking and stirring for an additional hour or until the tomatoes reach your desired consistency. If you'd like a lot of juice, cook less. If you want a more thick sauce, cook longer.
  8. About 30 minutes before the tomatoes are done cooking, fill your water bath canner with enough water to cover your jars by about an inch. Set the canner on the stovetop, set the temperature to high and bring the water to a rolling boil.
  9. About 5 minutes before the tomatoes are done cooking, add your lids and rings to a smaller pot and cover them with water. Set on the stovetop, turn the heat to high, and bring the water to a boil. Boil your lids and rings for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the lids and rings inside the hot water.
  10. When everything is ready: the water in the canner is boiling, the tomatoes are ready, and the lids and rings are ready, wash your jars with hot water and a little bit of dish soap. Set them on the counter and make sure to not touch the rim of the jar with your fingers from here on out. If you prefer sterilizing your jars in the boiling water read the notes below for instructions.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart jar...
  12. Use a ladle and the funnel to pack the jars with the crushed tomatoes. Make sure to leave 1'' headspace.
  13. Use the bubble remover to remove air bubbles from the jar.
  14. Use a clean paper towel to clean the rim of the jar.
  15. Use the magnetic lid lifter to lift a lid from the hot water and center it on the rim of the jar.
  16. Use the magnetic lid lifter to lift a ring from the hot water and close the jar.
  17. Use your jar lifters to lift the jar and place it in the canner on the rack.
  18. Repeat with all of your jars. Make sure that they don't touch each other in the canner.
  19. Process pint jars for 35 minutes or quart jars for 45 minutes (see notes).
  20. When the processing time is done, use your jar lifters to lift the jars out of the canner and set them on a kitchen towel on the counter or on a wooden cutting board to cool.
  21. Let your jars cool completely (at least 12 hours) undisturbed.
  22. Before storing in the pantry, make sure to remove the rings.

Notes

Cooking time will change according to how you like your tomatoes. If you like them in a lot of juice, you'll have to cook less than me. If you like them thick as I do, then follow my cooking times.

If you want to sterilize your jars you can place them on the rack inside of the canner. At this point, the water in the canner is boiling. Let your jars sterilize in the boiling water for ten minutes or so then remove them from the canner and set them on the counter by the stockpot.

Processing time can change depending on your altitude. I included a table in the post with the correct adjustments. Make sure to check it if you live above 1000 feet in elevation.

2-3 lbs of tomatoes fill a one-quart jar (approximately).

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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