Preserving Your Excess Tomato Crop

At some point most gardeners will have a few or a lot of excess tomato’s. Ripe tomato’s have a short shelf life, so to preserve your crop consider one of the following options.

Preparing Tomato’s for Canning or Freezing Select only disease free, vine ripe, tomato’s.

Freezing Tomato’s is fast, easy and a good option even if you only have a few excess tomato’s.
Wash tomato’s under cold running water. Dry your tomato’s well and pack whole in freezer bags.
Hint After thawing your frozen tomato’s the skin will easily slip off.

Acidification – to ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes.
Hint Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acid vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid.
For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoons vinegar.
Lemond juice, citric acid or vinegar can be added directly to the jars before filling.
* Some gardeners add a small amount sugar (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) to offset acid taste.

Wash tomatoes under cold running water. Dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold(ice) water. Slip off skins and remove cores.
Hint Coring tomato’s is optional.
Leave whole or cut in halve or quarters. Add bottled lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid to jars.
{Optional} Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars.

Raw pack Heat water to boiling for packing tomatoes. Fill hot sterilized jars with raw tomatoes. Cover tomatoes in the jars with boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Hot pack Put prepared tomatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to completely cover them. Boil tomatoes gently for 5 minutes. Fill hot sterilized jars with hot tomatoes. Add cooking liquid to the jars to cover the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
Optional Hint Strain cooking liquid to remove tomato seeds.

A Word Of Caution.
Canning tomato’s is easy, However, Carefully Follow the canning times to insure your tomato’s reach the temperature required to kill all harmful bacteria.

Table 1. Recommended
process time for water-packed Whole or Halved Tomatoes
in a boiling water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 3,000 ft 3,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot &
Pints 40 min 45 50 55
Quarts 45 50 55 60
Table 2. Recommended
process time for water-packed Whole or Halved Tomatoes
in a dial-gauge pressure canner
  Canner Gauge Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 2,000 ft 2,001 – 4,000 ft 4,001 – 6,000 ft 6,001 – 8,000 ft
Hot &
Pints or Quarts 15 min 6 lb 7 lb 8 lb 9 lb
10 11 12 13 14
Table 3. Recommended
process time for water-packed Whole or Halved Tomatoes
in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
  Canner Gauge Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Hot &
Pints or
15 min 5 lb 10 lb
10 10 15

Hint Add a bit of spice to your life. Before packing jars with tomato’s, add a spoon full of finely chopped onion, garlic, oregano, basel, pepper (hot or mild) or other spices you like.

This is an updated version of a July 2013 posting.

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8 responses to “Preserving Your Excess Tomato Crop

  1. Homesteading101

    Excellent ideas. Here in our region we are not able to pick vine ripened tomatoes for the most part. There is just not enough time for them to ripen on the plant. So we just pick them and ripen them inside. We do lose some but not all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A short or cool growing season is not my problem. Tomato’s will start not pollinating well when temperatures reach 92F and will start dropping blooms as the temp approches 95F or higher. This often occurs by mid to late June and generally does not cool down below 90 until late August or early September.
      Happy Gardening


  2. Can’t say I’ve ever had excess, no matter how many I plant. There is always something to can with them and every year I find more uses for the tomatoes than I have tomatoes. They are one the easiest and quickest veggies to can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tomato’s don’t stand up well to my 95 – 110F tempertures and winds that often exceed 50mph. Sad Grin .. but still I do for the most part continue to plant a small tomato patch.
      Happy gardening

      Liked by 1 person

  3. this is my favorite veggie to can… we make tomato juice, hot packed tomatoes, chili sauce every summer that we get tomatoes… this year is looking great…Thanks for sharing I will be blogging about tomato juice soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! This post is very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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