Canning tomatoes is the height of the summer garden experience. But it can also be overwhelming when you're faced with canning hundreds of pounds before they go bad!
Find out the easy trick for saving them so you are able to can them at your leisure!
This year our summer garden went completely crazy. I'm talking "locked up in a padded room in Lubbock" crazy.
That's the "problem" with the Back to Eden gardening method... you get huge gorgeous plants and the most abundant garden you can imagine! Seriously, we had veggies coming out of our ears for MONTHS before the heat finally took everything out and we had a lull in the produce.
50+ pounds of cucumbers every day, 25-30 pounds of zucchini every day, 5 pounds of beans every day, 2-10 pounds of tomatoes EVERY DAY... you get the idea. Lots of produce!
It caught me completely off guard as I had no idea I would be spending 8-10 hours a day canning and processing food for 3 straight months.
I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the enormous effort that was involved in single-handedly processing over 1000 pounds of produce. As a result I tried to find all the shortcuts I could! One of the things I found that I could postpone until later, was canning tomatoes!
Canning Tomatoes Months After the Harvest
It is a surprisingly easy trick to store the gallons and gallons of tomatoes for later processing. It takes almost zero effort and is a great way to store indeterminate tomatoes until the end of the season so you can process them all at one.
All you have to do is freeze them! That's right, you can just freeze the tomatoes whole in order to can them later with these 3 easy steps!
Sort tomatoes for any cuts or bites and set them aside. Add any whole remaining tomatoes to a gallon freezer bag and seal once full.
Freeze the tomatoes in a single layer of bags (don't stack bags on top of each other) until they are all completely frozen (about 12 hours). Once the tomatoes are completely frozen you can place the bags anywhere they will fit, like I have them here.
When you're ready to process, place the tomatoes in warm water for 3-5 minutes. Pull skin towards the blossom end to remove.
Process the tomatoes as normal for whatever canning project you have in mind! Or you can turn them into fresh sauce right then.
You can see the full process in the short video below! I usually keep about 15-20 fresh tomatoes out each day for snacking and meals, and the rest go straight into freezer bags!
I ended up with 18 bags of cherry tomatoes this year from just 1 plant!
How to Use Canned Tomatoes
While there are lots of different ways to can tomatoes - pasta sauce, juice, salsa, and even tomato jam for example - we mostly just can a generic sauce so that it can be used for any number of things in post processing.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to use our canned tomato sauce:
But first, we have to actually can the sauce before we can use it in all these delicious recipes (and more)!
Canning Tomatoes as Sauce
- Bottled Lemon Juice
- Canning Jars pint or quart
- Heat oven to 250° and place clean canning jars into oven on a baking sheet.
- Remove lemon juice from fridge and allow to warm to room temperature (if it's cold when starting out). This prevents the jars from breaking when you add the cold liquid to the hot jar.
- Skin and de-seed tomatoes. This is easiest if they were frozen first!
- Remove blossom end with a knife.
- Place tomatoes in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
- Using an immersion blender (if available) blend tomatoes until smooth. If no immersion blender is available, use a regular blender or a food processor to blend tomatoes. Transfer back to the pot and bring to a low boil.
- Remove jars from oven and add lemon juice to bottom of each jar. 1 tbsp per pint, 2 tbsp per quart.
- Ladle in tomato sauce, leaving a 1/2" headspace.
- Clean rims and secure lids and rings.
- Follow canning instructions here and process for 45 minutes in a water bath canner.
- Remove from canner and allow to cool for 24 hours before moving and storing.