Canning Tomatoes

This is the last of the 6 canning workshops organised by Richmond Food Secure and Richmond Fruit Tree Project.  The workshops were a great success with full attendance.   Here are the earlier workshops I attended:


There is nothing quite like the taste of sweet, ripe tomatoes.  Canning is a way to capture a taste of summer to brighten up a grey winter day.  Canning tomatoes seemed to be very popular and 3 tomatoes canning workshops were conducted.  It looks like a lot of people love to plant tomatoes.

The above are some of the tomatoes that Karen harvested from her community garden in downtown Vancouver and her balcony.  They include Green Zebra, Tigerella (orange with green), Italian Plum (small red) and Purple Ball (the big red one as it did not turn out to be purple).  Karen and Colleen started with 50 tomato plants from seed in early spring.  In May they planted the seedlings in the community garden in downtown.  Not all of the tomatoes have yield a lot of fruit but the Tomatillos, Sungolds (tiny orange tomatoes), Italian Plum, Black Plum and Green Zebra have been the most prolific.


You may infused the tomatoes with herbs and spices but do not add too much as the addition may changed the acidity of the content and caused spoilage.


For each 500ml jar, you will need:

  • about 1 pound (400 to 500 gram) tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of powdered citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice.  Bottled lemon juice is recommended as it has a defined acidity, whereas fresh lemon juice will vary significantly in acidity, depending upon the individual lemon.
  • salt, if desired, up to 1/2 teaspoon
  • herbs and spices if desired



Prepare 500ml jars, rings and lids by washing them in hot soapy water and rinse well.  Place lids in HOT, not boiling water, for 5 minutes before using.  Do not heat rings.  Heat jars in canning pot or large basin, with hot water.  You may place the jars in the dish washer and run a rinse cycle with heat dry and kept them inside the dish washer to keep warm while you prepare your canning material.

Canning-Tomatoes-4-300x200Tomatoes may be canned with the skin on (slit the skin before packing), but most people prefer skinless tomatoes for cooking.

If preparing only a few tomatoes the skin can be removed with a peeler, otherwise use the following method.

To peel the tomatoes, cut a shallow X in the bottom end of each ripe fruit.

Canning-Tomatoes-5-300x200Heat about 3 litres (12 cups) of water, in a large saucepan, to boiling.  Remove from heat.   Plunge each tomato into the HOT water for about 30 seconds, to loosen the skin.
Canning-Tomatoes-9-300x200Prepare a deep bowl by filling half full with a combination of cold water and ice.  Remove the fruit from the HOT water and set into the bowl of COLD water, until cool to the touch.
Canning-Tomatoes-7-300x200The tomato skin should slip off easily.
Canning-Tomatoes-8-300x200Use a paring knife to remove the top end.
Canning-Tomatoes-10-300x200Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, or crush whole tomatoes lightly with a potato masher.
Canning-Tomatoes-12-300x200Place tomatoes in a stainless steel saucepan or skillet; add water to cover the bottom (about 1/2 cup).  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring gently.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  This step of heating the tomatoes is to kill the enzyme which causes the solids and liquids to separate.  This method is called “hot” pack.

Tomatoes may also be packed “raw”, but the resulting product may seem more “watery” if not drained for later use.

Canning-Tomatoes-11-300x200Add citric acid or bottled lemon juice to each jar.
Canning-Tomatoes-13-300x200Add some cooking liquid into the jar.
Canning-Tomatoes-14-300x200Pack tomatoes snugly into jars using a funnel, leaving 1/2 inch at the top of the jar.  Add cooking liquid to cover, leaving 1/2 inch at the top of the jar.
Canning-Tomatoes-16-300x200If you do not have a funnel, you can make your own funnel using a small yogurt container by cutting off the bottom.
Canning-Tomatoes-23-200x300This is a great recycling idea.
Canning-Tomatoes-22-200x300Remove air bubbles using a plastic knife and add more liquid if needed.  Never use a metal object to remove the bubble as it may scratch the glass and cause breakage in the hot water processing.
Canning-Tomatoes-15-300x200Wipe the jar rim to remove any stickiness.  Center snap lid on jar; apply screw band just until resistance is met – fingertip tight.  Do not over-tighten.
Canning-Tomatoes-17-300x200Place jars in canner.
Canning-Tomatoes-18-300x200Fill canner with hot water to cover jars by 1 inch.  Cover canner; bring water to a boil.  Boil filled jars for 40 minutes.  When processing time is complete, turn heat off and remove canner lid.  When boil subsides, i.e. bubbles no longer rise to surface (about 3 to 5 minutes), remove jars without tilting.  Cool jars upright, undisturbed for 24 hours.  Do not re-tighten screw bands.   You may hear popping sound during the initial resting.

After cooling, check jar seals.  Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed.  Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars.  Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired.  Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

Arzeena shared with us that the Food Bank is setting up an equipment library which include the canning equipments.  If there is anyone who would like to do canning with their friends but doesn’t have the equipment, please do let Arzeena know. She would love to  have  the canning pots, jars, etc and everything in use.  Arzeena’s contact can be found in the Richmond Food Secure website.

Karen and Arzeena, thank you for conducting and organizing these wonderful workshops.

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  1. Karen Dar Woon

    Thank you, Suanne, for posting such detailed accounts of the canning workshops! I love having jars of “Summer Sunshine” in the cupboard for winter days. Also, I appreciate having some control over what I am eating, buy making my own preserves. At home, I have been making just a few jars at a time, as the produce ripens.

    1. Karen Dar Woon

      ^^ of course, I meant to spell correctly… “by making my own preserves” Oops.

  2. CT

    Thank you, Suanne, for posting such detailed accounts of the canning workshops! I love having jars of “Summer Sunshine” in the cupboard for winter days. Also, I appreciate having some control over what I am eating, buy making my own preserves. At home, I have been making just a few jars at a time, as the produce ripens.

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