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:
Cold-Pack Steam Canning Tomatoes
- 12 to 14 pounds vine ripe tomatoes
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Vidalia Chop Wizard 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 1/4-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.
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