- 1 What are Tomatoes?
- 2 Why Can Tomatoes?
- 3 The Best Way to Can Tomatoes
- 4 The Potential Dangers of Canning Tomatoes
- 5 The Greatest Tomato Seeds to Plant for Canning Tomatoes
- 5.1 1. Italian Roma Heirloom Seeds – Best Small Tomato Variety for Canning
- 5.2 Pros:
- 5.3 2. San Marzano Tomato Seeds for Planting – Best Tomato Plant that Grows in Bunches
- 5.4 3. David’s Garden Seeds Tomato Slicing Jubilee 4473 (Orange) – The most Colorful tomato Variety
- 5.5 4. Tomato Roma VF Determinate Variety – The Best Tomato Variety for Canning
- 5.6 5. Rutgers Tomato Seeds – Tomato Plant with the Best Rich Meaty Flavor!
- 5.7 6. Bradley Tomato Seeds – Best Tomato Plant for Freezing and Cooking
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
Canning Tomatoes are a delight! For those of us who live in colder climates, as the seasons change and we have to stop growing our favorite plants we need to find unique ways to store them for later! Tomatoes will rot if they are not cooked, frozen, or stored properly.
Canning tomatoes is not new. There is a rich history in the U.S of pilgrims canning their vegetables and fruits to store during the winter for a food supply. This was a common practice in Northern states that received minimal light and harsh winters.
Now there are various techniques that make it easy for us to can tomatoes and store them, but centuries ago, it was an experience the entire family participated in for months at a time. The Civil War was a big reason why families across the nation were canning their food. Although they feared diseases, there were limited supplies between the North and South.
This has changed drastically for people over time, as there are tomatoes everywhere and refrigeration widely available to preserve them. Although this is the case now, a lot of gardeners love tasting their own tomatoes, and can even taste the difference between store-bought ones. To preserve tomatoes for a longer season, people still can tomatoes to make into soups, spices, and salsas later.
What are Tomatoes?
Although tomatoes are seen as a vegetable, they are actually a fruit! Tomatoes are produced when flowers from a tomato plant pollinate. The yellow or white flowers dry out, and the stem holding them thickens as the energy of the plant focuses on growing the fruit.
Red tomatoes have edible fruits filled with nutrients and minerals. They are flavorful and vary in size, shape, and color. No two tomato plants are exactly alike. There are actually two different types of Tomato plants and how they grow; determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate tomatoes grow in a small bush, and are modified so they only grow to a specific length or height. These tomatoes are rarely seen in the wild and are typically what we see sold in nurseries and garden stores.
This type of tomato plant is popular for individuals looking to grow tomatoes in a small space. They have a high production rate, but a small growing period. The flowers on a determinate tomato type open quickly and the fruit all ripens at once. After all the tomatoes are ripe, the plant stops production entirely.
You can keep a determinate tomato for a long time, but it takes following the proper steps and a bit of time. You have to make sure that you keep taking the tomatoes off every time they ripen to start. If not, the tomato plant will think that it’s done and stop producing flowers and fruit.
However, you can also take cuttings and root the cuttings into water to create clones of your mother tomato plant, if you don’t want to overwinter it. This process is fairly quick and easy. Snip a cutting of the tomato plant right before the node and place it into water with light. You can also immediately place the cutting into soil, but it takes longer for the roots to settle that way.
Indeterminate tomatoes are the exact opposite of determinate tomatoes. These types of tomatoes grow in the wild, and have a much longer growing period. They do not stop growing though, and can reach heights as tall as 12 feet depending on the variety.
Indeterminate tomato plants are tricky though if you live in a small space. While you can keep cutting back the new growth, it will still continue to keep growing. This type of tomato plant is a popular choice for individuals with a big backyard that don’t receive an annual freeze. This way, the plant continues to thrive.
The tomato plants don’t stop producing flowers or fruit. Instead, the fruits ripen at the same time as the plant grows new leaves and flowers. This does mean that indeterminate tomato plants have a longer growing period, but they also take longer to mature. If you have the space and don’t mind waiting a few extra weeks for ripe tomatoes, this tomato type is great for you!
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Why Can Tomatoes?
Canning tomatoes is an old tradition that dates back a couple hundred years. Although it used to have a larger purpose, people now can tomatoes so that the taste will last longer. Homegrown tomatoes are versatile and fresh. It is hard to know and pinpoint exactly where the tomatoes in your local store come from.
When you can tomatoes, you give the tomatoes a longer lifespan. Sadly, tomatoes rot fairly quickly! Although refrigeration does help, there are parts of the U.S where winters last over 4-5 months and they cannot grow tomatoes any more.
Tomatoes that go through overwintering, don’t die inside but stop producing flowers and tomatoes. The colder temperature is not warm enough to keep providing fruit. As the Fall season ends, you may be left with hundreds of tomatoes, some that are ripe, and others that are not.
Instead of letting them go to waste, you can simply can them or freeze them. It does take a lengthy process, but is worth it in the end!
Ripening Green Tomatoes
If you have reached the very end of your growing season, you may notice that a lot of your tomatoes are still green or have barely started ripening. Did you know that you can ripen green tomatoes off the vine? Some plants stop ripening when they are removed, but tomatoes don’t! There are many methods you can use.
Right before a big freeze comes in and destroys your tomatoes, you can cut them off along with the branch they are on and hang them inside to dry. Within a few weeks they should be red or a deep orange. This depends, however, on the state of your tomatoes.
Green tomatoes ready to ripen need to be hard. If they are soft they will just rot away sitting on your counter. You can also place all of your tomatoes together in a large box and store them in a dark room. For instance, you can place the tomatoes into your pantry on the bottom. Within one week you will notice that the tomatoes are significantly more red.
Thankfully, there are also delicious recipes that use green tomatoes too! Although green tomatoes may not taste as sweet as red ripe tomatoes, you can still cut them, boil them, and fry them to create green fried tomatoes. It is safe to eat tomatoes when they are not ripe, but never consume the leaves!
Canning green tomatoes is tough, but not impossible! You can challenge yourself to save the tomatoes by canning them and cooking them with your other ripened tomatoes. However, it does not always work, since unripe tomatoes are tougher to cut.
The Best Way to Can Tomatoes
What is the best method for canning tomatoes? The process of canning tomatoes is a long one! However, it is relatively easy. First, you need to decide what kind of tomatoes you want to can. Do you want to can whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, or just slices?
The possibilities are endless! Once you have made your choice, you need to cut off the stem (if there is one) as well as any defects.
After you have cut off what you don’t want, you can pack the tomatoes into tight mason jars. Make sure to press them down and fill it to the top. You want as much of the juice of the tomato as possible, so the flavor stays. Add a pinch of salt, any seasonings you would like, and about a tablespoon of lemon.
I prefer lemon, but anything acidic will do! The acid helps preserve the tomatoes for up to one year without refrigeration. Once you have done that, place them in a pot of boiling water for a minimum of 5 minutes. Close the lid and seal on your jars, and let the water boil reaching up to an inch of the jar for 45 minutes.
I recommend setting a timer, as it can help you keep track of time. How long do you cook tomatoes before canning? In total, you should cook tomatoes for 45 minutes to an hour before canning them. However, you can also cook the tomatoes in the can as the water boils.
Once the timer goes off, gently and carefully remove the canned tomatoes from the hot boiling water. Do so quickly as too much cooking can burn the tomatoes on the inside. Let the tomatoes cool in the jars, as they cool, you may hear a popping sound that indicates the tomatoes are sealed.
How long do homemade canned tomatoes last? They can last up to one year if they are cooked properly! You do not need to preserve your canned tomatoes in the fridge, unless they have not been sealed properly.
The Potential Dangers of Canning Tomatoes
It is understandable to be wary of the idea of canning tomatoes, but you shouldn’t be! We buy canned tomatoes often at the store, so what difference is there in making it at home? There are a few things you should watch out for though when processing tomatoes to can them.
What are the dangers of canning tomatoes? One of the biggest dangers is the top not sealing correctly on the jars. If you don’t double check that the cans are sealed tight then the tomatoes can spoil over time as air leaks in.
The best way to avoid this is to tap on the center of the can, if it does not move then it is tight enough. However, if you tap the center and it bounces back, the lid is not tight and there is air inside. Air and the liquid of the tomatoes is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can cause upset stomachs and food poisoning.
Also, if you do not boil the tomatoes in the cans then there is no way to properly seal the jar! The cooking helps mix the lemon acid and salt to preserve the chunks of tomato. Without it, it can rot. If you cannot boil the tomatoes, or notice that the can is not tight, you should place the mixture in your fridge to preserve it for a short time.
However, anything refrigerated does not last forever. You should use the canned tomatoes within two weeks, or freeze them to keep them a little longer.
The Greatest Tomato Seeds to Plant for Canning Tomatoes
Before you can begin to think about canning tomatoes, you need to choose a variety that works well for your needs. Tomatoes with little seeds and water are great, since they preserve well! If you leave large seeds in canned tomatoes, they can sprout if even a little bit of air reaches inside.
1. Italian Roma Heirloom Seeds – Best Small Tomato Variety for Canning
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You can eat them as snacks, or you can make sauces, salsa, and soups out of them.
There are 100 tomato seeds in each packet, and they need full sun exposure to grow. In some USDA zones, you can grow these tomatoes during Spring and Fall. As the temperatures increase to above 90 degrees Fahrenheit though, your tomato plant may stop producing.
Style: Tomato Seeds
Application: Apply Directly into Soil, Start indoors before the last frost of the season.
Size: 100 seeds per packet
The fruits are about 3 to 5 oz and are great for creating pastes. They have the shape of plums and only take an average of 80 days to produce tomatoes. The tomato is originally from Italy and is heavily disease resistant, which makes it great for planting outdoors!
- Easy to Read Instructions
- Great for Outdoor and Indoor Growing
- Tomato Paste Texture Perfect for Canning
2. San Marzano Tomato Seeds for Planting – Best Tomato Plant that Grows in Bunches
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The tomatoes produced by the San Marzano Tomato seeds are small, and grow in bunches. They have a high production rate, and can be used as an annual if you overwinter them inside. If you want something affordable and long-lasting, these seeds are for you! Canning tomatoes is easier with San Marzano Tomatoes as they cook well.
Style: Tomato Seeds
Application: Directly into Dirt in Spring or Fall
Size: 200mg per packet
Gardeners Basic also provides excellent customer service and has many positive reviews. The company prides itself on customer satisfaction and they plant, grow, and store their seeds all in the same location. It is important to note that this is an indeterminate seed, which grows up to five feet tall.
- Delicious Taste
- Grows in Bunches
- High Production of Fruit
- Disease Resistant
3. David’s Garden Seeds Tomato Slicing Jubilee 4473 (Orange) – The most Colorful tomato Variety
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There are a lot of nutrients packed in these tiny tomatoes that have a 2-3” diameter. The vitamin especially prominent in this tomato plant is vitamin C. The flavor is sweet, as opposed to savory and gives your canned tomatoes a kick of flavor! There are not a lot of seeds in the tomatoes produced however, since they are so small.
Style: Tomato Seeds
Application: Directly sow into the soil
Size: 50 Seeds Non-GMO
David’s Garden seed packets contain about 50 seeds per packet. The germination rate of the seeds is approximately 80%, and the seeds are fresh! It is important to know that this variety does need either staking or cages as the plant grows and the fruit weighs it down.
- Beautiful orange color
- Small bite-sized tomatoes
- High Production
- Excellent Customer Service
- Long Growing Season
4. Tomato Roma VF Determinate Variety – The Best Tomato Variety for Canning
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Although the tomatoes produced by the plant are relatively small, they are great for canning and making into soups, salsas, and mixes. The fruits have very few seeds and water, which means it is packed with flavor! The limited seeds ensure that the flavor stands out when cooking and canning them.
They are a non-GMO variety that originates in the U.S and grows well in all USDA zones! It is hardy against both the cold and the hot weather, which makes it a favorite amongst gardeners throughout the country.
Style: Tomato Seeds
Application: Sow Directly into Soil Right Before Last Frost
Size: 50 Seeds in each packet
Each packet contains about 50 seeds with a high germination rate. This variety is often used in Italian dishes as a side or sauce. They grow rather wide, and the roots need space to expand. You should only plant between 1 to 2 Roma Tomato seeds in a container, so they don’t fight for space.
- High Production Tomato Plant
- Grows Quickly with High Harvest Rate
- Delicious and Packed with Flavor
- Vibrant Red Great for Sauces and Canning Tomatoes
5. Rutgers Tomato Seeds – Tomato Plant with the Best Rich Meaty Flavor!
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These tomato seeds come in a pack of over 100 seeds and has detailed instructions on planting and caring for the seeds.
Rutgers Tomato seeds are an indeterminate variety that does not grow very tall. This should not deter you away though as it produces tomatoes quickly! From seedling to maturity, it only takes about 70 to 80 days. This variety is also a great choice to sow into the soil during Spring and Fall, before the last frost.
Style: Tomato Seeds
Application: Sow Directly into Soil
Size: 100+ Seeds per Packet
This tomato variety has tomatoes that reach three inches in length. Although they are big, they are packed with flavor and hydrating minerals. You can grow these tomato seeds in all USDA zones including 3-12. However, they should not be left in the cold unless they are well watered and the roots are kept warm.
- Grows Great in Containers and Small Spaces!
- Large Tomatoes that are Perfect for Canning
- Delicious Flavor and Vibrant Red
- Ready in less than three months!
6. Bradley Tomato Seeds – Best Tomato Plant for Freezing and Cooking
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You can use this variety to freeze, cook, and store them over long periods of time.
There are 200 seeds in each packet and they have a high germination rate. However, you should keep the seeds watered, without over watering them. You want the soil to be moist, but without a flood as it can drown the roots causing root rot.
Style: Tomato Seeds
Application: Directly in soil indoors or outdoors
Size: 200 Seeds per packet
Bradley Tomato seeds produce a bushy type of tomato plant that stops growing at a particular height. This makes it great for containers and small spaces. While this is the case, you still need proper sunlight inside when growing this tomato variety. The most interesting thing about this variety is that all the tomatoes ripen at once!
- All the Tomatoes Ripen at Once
- Bushy and Great for Containers
- Disease Resistant
- Quick Growing Plants
Canning tomatoes is a fascinating process that has a rich history! There is a lot that goes into canning tomatoes, but it is relatively easy to learn. First, you need to choose a variety of tomato to grow and eat that has the right flavor, texture, and color.
Afterwards, you can begin the process when the tomatoes are matured. If the tomatoes do not mature in time and are still green for the first freeze, you can still ripen them! However you choose to eat your tomatoes though, they will be delicious and worth the wait!
What is the best method for canning tomatoes?
The best method for canning tomatoes is to boil them in jars. You should cut them into chunks as big as you want and stuff them into sealable containers. They need to be airtight! If too much air is left in the seal, after boiling, you may end up with rotting tomatoes.
You can also boil the tomatoes, outside of the jar. Everyone has a different process. There are some individuals who peel the tomatoes entirely and then dunk them into boiling water. Afterwards, they repeat the same step by boiling water for the jaws to seal them properly.
What are the dangers of canning tomatoes?
If you are not careful, there are a lot of dangers that can arise because of canning tomatoes. Since tomatoes are raw and organic, they can rot and develop mold over time if left out. They do not have a long shelf life, but can be preserved if you freeze them or boil them in airtight sealable containers.
The dangers of canning tomatoes include leaving too much air, and using a container with defects. If too much air gets inside the can then there is a possibility that mold and other bacteria will get in. If you eat the tomatoes without knowing you can suffer from stomach pain or food poisoning.
How long do you cook tomatoes before canning?
Every person cooks tomatoes differently before caning. Some people don’t cook them at all, and simply cook them inside the jar as the water boils. However, if you choose to cook tomatoes before canning, you should place them in boiling water for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Just before the tomato is about to break apart, prepare an ice bath in a big bowl and toss the tomatoes in there. This way they preserve and don’t start to become mushy.
How long do homemade canned tomatoes last?
Homemade canned tomatoes can last up to one year without refrigeration. However, it depends on the cooking process and where you store it. You need to store homemade canned tomatoes in a dark area, if it is exposed to light or air accidentally then the time that it preserves decreases.