Your summer veggie garden is in full bloom, and your tomatoes are doing great. The only problem? Your garden may be producing more tomatoes than you can eat! (What a catastrophe!)
Don’t waste your harvest.
Preserve tomatoes now to enjoy the sweet rewards of your summer veggie garden long after harvest season is over.
Step-by-step Instructions to Can, Save and Preserve Tomatoes:
Perfect Picking for Preservation
You’ll want to allow tomatoes to ripen on the vine, so they reach peak flavor.
Harvest when they have colored evenly and are a tiny bit soft when squeezed. Remember, tomatoes stop ripening in temperatures above 86º F. If your area is consistently warm, tomatoes may stop ripening when they reach an orange/yellow color. So, don’t wait for them to turn completely red before picking.
To remove tomatoes from the vine, grasp them gently and firmly. Twist the tomato until it snaps off the vine, or slice the stem close to the fruit.
- Remove tomato skins by cutting an X through outside skin and carefully lowering the tomato into boiling water for 30 seconds. Then, plunge it into ice water for a few seconds. Skins will slide right off.
- Allow tomatoes to cool. Cut into quarters and fill freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing.
- If you don’t mind the skins, stick sliced tomatoes or whole cherry tomatoes in a freezer bag and place in the freezer.
- Season tomatoes after they are defrosted and right before they are served.
- If prepared correctly, tomatoes can last in your freezer for up to one year!
- Sanitize jars in boiling water. Keep warm until ready for use to avoid breakage.
- Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds.
- Cool, peel, core and halve or quarter tomatoes in a strainer placed over a bowl to catch juices. Remove the seeds.
- Add salt and herbs such as basil, tarragon and oregano to each jar. Include 1 teaspoon of each.
- Place tomatoes in jars and fill the jars with leftover tomato juice, leaving 1/2” head room. Press down to remove the air bubbles. Wipe the rim, put on lid and screw on ring until fingertip tight.
- Place tomato jars in boiling water and cover them with 1-2” of water. Then cover the pot and let simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the lids pop.
- Remove the pot from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Place the jars upright on a towel undisturbed for at least 12 hours.
- Test lids within 24 hours to make sure they don’t pop. If a lid pops, you can immediately reprocess after making sure the jar is full, the rim is clean and the seal is tight. Or, you can refrigerate them for use within a few days.
- Slice paste tomatoes such as romas into 1/4” thick rings.
- Arrange pieces on dehydrator trays so they are not touching.
- Sprinkle with salt and herbs of your choice. Use herbs grown in your own garden for the freshest flavor.
- Dehydrate tomatoes until moisture is removed. Dehydrating can be done in a dehydrator or conventional gas or electric oven.
- Time varies based on the moisture in the tomatoes, thickness of the slices, the dehydrator itself and the humidity in the air. They’re finished when tomatoes are flexible, but not brittle.
- To store, seal in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Visit our Organic Tomato Gardening Guide for more tips and tricks.