Cooking Tips & TricksRecipesSauces and Dressings

Cold-Pack Steam Canning Tomatoes in Own Juice (Easy Method)

Megan6 comments46428 views

The waiting game is over! My tomatoes are a beautiful shade of scarlet red, and I am harvesting them by the dozens. There is such a sweet gratification that comes during harvest time when all my months of hard work yield a very delicious reward. We have been enjoying fresh tomatoes in salads, sandwiches, sauces, salsas and more. However, if we keep eating like this, we may have acid reflux for life, so now it’s time to start preserving these little red beauties.

If you are anything like me, I am super intimidated by canning and bottling. That is, until I learned how easy it is. Tomatoes are the easiest food to bottle because they require no syrups, acid, or even salt. My recipe for steam canning tomatoes is straightforward and fool-proof. (I wouldn’t spend my time on it if it wasn’t.) However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t read the instructions a bajillion times the first time I did this. but once you give this a whirl you will see how hard it is to mess up. So, here goes—my tried-and true-recipe for steam-canning garden tomatoes:

Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Cold-Pack Steam Canning Tomatoes

The easiest method for canning tomatoes.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 quarts
Calories 26kcal
Author Megan


  • 12 to 14 pounds vine ripe tomatoes
  • 8 Tablespoons Bottled Lemon Juice
  • Steam Canner
  • Two-tier stock and strainer pot see Featured Products
  • 4 Quart Mason Jars sanitized through the dishwasher
  • 4 Canning lids wide or small according to jar mouth size
  • 4 Canning rings wide or small according to jar mouth size
  • Vidalia Chop Wizard optional
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cutting Board
  • Serrated knife
  • small sauce pan
  • metal salad tongs


  • Gather all supplies and ingredients. This is very important! Once things get moving along, you won’t have time to be searching for supplies. Check the “Featured Products” section (Aff. links) for the supplies I use.
  • Fill the stock/strainer pot two-thirds full with water, cover with a lid, and begin to boil. At the same time, fill the steam canner with water just below the inside rack and begin to boil.
  • Add about 2 cups hot water to the small saucepan. Set it on the stovetop at a low simmer. Carefully place lids on the bottom of the pot, rubber side up, making sure not to touch the rubber. The oils on your fingers can prevent the lids from sealing. Cover with a lid and continue to gently simmer until ready to use.
  • Rinse a quarter of the tomatoes and blanch them in the boiling water inside the stock/strainer pot for 60 seconds. Pull only the strainer out, draining the water from the tomatoes. Leave the stock pot boiling with water for the next round of tomatoes.
  • Slip the skin off from the tomatoes. Use the serrated knife to core and cut them into quarters. If the skin doesn’t easily slip off the tomato, increase the blanch time by 30 seconds.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each quart jar. At this point, you may choose to fill your mason jars with the quartered tomatoes. If you prefer diced tomatoes, use the largest grid blade in the vegetable chopper to quickly dice the tomatoes.
  • Pack each jar as tightly as possible. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to release air bubbles by pressing it down the inside of the jar three or four times. Fill the empty space with more tomatoes.
  • Leave just 1/2-inch head space at the top of the mason jar. With a clean towel, wipe the rim of the jar clean.
  • Use salad tongs to carefully remove a lid from the simmering water. Gently shake excess water away and place the lid on the rim of the jar with the rubber side touching the rim. Screw the ring over the lid. Do not over tighten. Place the filled jars in the center of the steam canner rack. Cover with the lid.
  • Steam will begin to flow out of the center hole of the canning lid. When the steam column is about 8 inches long, start the timer for 45 minutes. Depending on your canner, you may have a temperature gauge for this step. Refer to user manual for specifics.
  • After steaming is finished. turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes before carefully propping the lid open with the handle of the wooden spoon. Leave the spoon and let the steam release for at least 30 minutes before removing the jars.
  • Press on the lids of each jar. If they can be depressed with a clicking sound, turn the jar upside down and let it sit on your counter over night to finish sealing. If the lid does not click, it means you have successfully sealed the lid, and you are done! Let the jars cool on a dry towel for 24 hours before wiping them clean and storing in your pantry.

Featured Products

(Includes Affiliate Links)

Aluminum Steam Canner

Cuisinart Stainless Stock/Strainer Set

 Kerr Quart Jars with Bands and Lids

 Vidalia Chop Wizard


    1. Hi Debra, thank you for the question. I went ahead and edited the recipe to reflect the addition of bottled lemon juice. When using a steam canner, foods to be processed must have a pH of 4.6 or less. Because tomatoes range from 4.3 to 4.9, it is recommended to add acid to stay on the safe side. I admittedly do not always add acid to my tomatoes, and they have never had issues with bacterial growth. When you are adding acid to tomatoes, add 1 Tablespoon per pint or 2 Tablespoons per quart. I hope this was helpful. Happy canning!

    1. I just asked google how many pounds are in one bushel. The answer is 60 pounds. Therefore, you should get approximately 16 quarts of canned tomatoes from one bushel.

  1. 5 stars
    Very helpful information. If your tomatoes are already cooked would it change the stream time? I like to make stewed tomatoes which are already cooked in my crockpot but want to try canning them this year.

    1. Hey Jessica! That is a great question. Typically, people add celery, onions, and other vegetables when making stewed tomatoes. If you are adding any other vegetables to your tomatoes, you will need to pressure cook them in a pressure cooker which is a different piece of equipment than the steam canner I am talking about in this post. Tomatoes alone have enough acid in them to prevent bacterial growth, but when you add other vegetables it throws off the pH. If you are cooking just tomatoes in your crockpot, you can steam can them, but you need to do the same amount of time. It is more for the lid to seal than anything else. At that point, you may as well do the cold-pack method and save yourself a step. I hope that was helpful!

Leave a Response

Recipe Rating