Canning & Preserving
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Diced tomatoes are simply one of the most versatile items in your pantry. Use them to make chili, soup, or spaghetti sauce. Use them in casseroles or one-pot meals. I even tend to just toss them into my blender with a few other ingredients to make crazy easy tomato bisque for a cozy lunch. I’ll never be without diced tomatoes in my pantry.
Buying canned diced tomatoes is a breeze (and relatively affordable), but as with most things in the kitchen, I find the flavor to be much superior when you can your own diced tomatoes at home. Not only do you get to use the ripest, best tomatoes picked at the peak of tomato season (hopefully from your own garden), but you can also control exactly what ingredients do and do not get put into your batch. Watching your salt intake? Leave it out! Worried about the BPA lining that a lot of tomato cans use? No worries, you’re using glass! Want to spice up the jars with your own herb combos? Have at it!
Beyond that, canning diced tomatoes is one of the easiest canning projects for beginners. So many people start with jam, but jam is hard, guys. You have to worry about pectin and jelling and boiling over and foam and sugar (oh so much sugar!). But tomatoes? Tomatoes are a breeeeeze to can. If you’re new to canning—and maybe a bit intimidated—tomatoes (or pickles, but that’s another post for another time) are a great place to start! The biggest thing you have to worry about with canning tomatoes is heat shocking your jars and having them break. Just as long as you remember to never let your jars go from temperature extremes (hot to cold, or vice versa), you’ll be good!
I’ve got a pretty comprehensive canning tutorial for you below, but before we dig in, I did want to talk a bit about the supplies you’ll need. You won’t really need anything fancy, but a few gadgets will make your canning life a lot easier.
Alright, you’ve got your tomatoes, you’ve got your lemon juice or citric acid– now let’s actually dig into canning some tomatoes! I’ve got the full tutorial with pictures written out here, but if you’re looking for a printable version, scroll to the bottom of this post. Okay, let’s go!
The actual “canning” part of canning is a tiny part of the puzzle—especially when compared to the prep work. Before you slice into a single tomato, you need to prep your work space.
You don’t have to peel your tomatoes. But I highly recommend it. Since I’m always looking for kitchen shortcuts, I’ve canned without peeling before, and I wished I had taken the time to do it. Tomato skins get very tough through the canning process, and unless they are chopped into minuscule pieces, they aren’t very appetizing. Plus, the peeling process is made easy thanks to blanching!
Some people choose to remove seeds and juices here—and you can absolutely do that if you prefer a drier tomato product—but I like to leave all of it. Not only is it easier, but it also makes for stronger flavor.
If you’re new to canning, I highly recommend filling one jar at a time, placing it into the hot water bath canner, and then moving onto the next jar. This process is for raw-pack tomatoes—meaning you don’t heat the tomatoes before they go in the jar. The tomatoes will quickly cool down the hot jars, and just by the nature of being a newbie, you’ll be a little bit slower at this process. If you do all the jars at once, the jars might cool down too much before you place them in the boiling water—which could lead to jar breakage. Start with one at a time. In these pictures, I did a whole canner load at once, but I’m pretty speedy!
You’re almost done! Just a few more steps and you can go kick back and relax while your tomatoes process (or, as I often do, start working on the next batch).
Great work! Two last (important) steps, and you’re on your way to all kinds of delicious soups and stews.
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Diced tomatoes are the perfect canning project for beginners, and a super-versatile ingredient. Learn how to can diced tomatoes step-by-step!
Keywords: canning, tomatoes, preserving
I prefer to keep my tomatoes plain and spice them up later, but you might like having some ready-to-go flavor combos already in your pantry. Here are three of my favorite diced tomato variations to try. I never salt my tomatoes before canning, but you are welcome to add salt (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon per pint jar) if you’d like.
Note: If you’re going to make your own flavor combos, be sure to only use dried spices. Ingredients like fresh onions or peppers are not acidic enough to can with tomatoes safely unless you are following a recipe that has been tested for proper pH levels. Always accurately follow a tested recipe when canning things like salsa, spaghetti sauce, or chutney.
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What a great tutorial! I confess to still being a bit timid about trying canning, but your step-by-step explanation will be the one I use when I bite the bullet and try canning.
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