How To Can Tomatoes Without A Canner? [8 Simple Steps]

Image of tomatoes canned without a canner

When your garden yields more tomatoes than you can use or you find a good deal on fresh produce, you may like to preserve the excess. Canning tomatoes also locks the flavors when the fruits are at their finest. Although the traditional way of canning involves a pressure canner, using a canner isn’t absolutely essential. So, how to can tomatoes without a canner?

You can use the water bath canning method to can tomatoes. The canning process involves stuffing the jars with tomatoes, submerging them in a water bath, and processing them over heat for 90 minutes or more. You will need a large pot, like a stockpot, that can hold enough water to submerge the jars.

Let’s talk about this in more detail now.

Benefits Of Canning Tomatoes

Tomatoes are available throughout the year. However, the most flavorful tomatoes grow in the months of June to September.

Some varieties, like Roma tomatoes, ripen within a few weeks. When this happens, you may end up with more tomatoes than you can consume at a time.

Whether you have an excess of tomatoes or find a good deal on these vegetables when they are in season, consider canning them.

Since tomatoes are acidic vegetables, they will hold up well when canned properly.

Canning tomatoes locks their flavors in. This method will allow you to store the excess and enjoy delicious tomatoes in all your favorite recipes throughout the year.

How To Can Tomatoes Without A Canner Using The Water Bath Method?

The water bath method is the best way to can whole, ripe tomatoes. It’s suitable for most common tomato varieties, including Roma tomatoes.

For the water bath method, you will need a large and deep pot, like a stockpot. It should be large enough to submerge the canning jars leaving at least one inch of water above their lids.

If you don’t have a big enough pot to hold all your canning jars, you can also use two wide pots.

Apart from the water bath, you will also need canning jars and jar lifters. Jar lifters make it safe to handle the jars when they are immersed in hot boiling water.

Depending on how your jars fit inside the pot, you may also need kitchen towels to prevent them from hitting against each other.

Let’s now look at the process in detail.

Step 1: Begin by sterilizing the jars and lids.

This step is essential to ensure that your tomatoes are sealed hygienically.

Sterilize the mason jars and lids after washing them thoroughly with soap and water to get rid of germs and microbes.

Boil the bottles and their lids separately for 3 to 5 minutes to properly sterilize them.

Step 2: Blanch and peel the tomatoes.

After removing the stems from the tomatoes, place them in boiling water for a few minutes.

Then, transfer them into an ice bath and leave them there for a few seconds. This will stop the cooking process and make it easy to remove the skin.

Gently tug off the skin, and your whole tomatoes are ready for canning.

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Step 3: Transfer the tomatoes to the canning jar.

Add the blanched and peeled tomatoes into the jars until they are half an inch below the rim.

Gently push them down with a spoon so that the tomatoes are compacted inside the jar.

You can add more tomatoes at this stage till it’s tightly stuffed up to half an inch below the rim.

Step 4: Add the acidic agent.

Once your tomatoes are inside the jar, add lemon juice or citric acid. Freshly squeezed lime juice is a good preserving agent.

Use it in the ratio of 1 tablespoon for each pint.

You can also use lemon concentrate if you can’t find fresh lime juice. Citric acid crystals are another alternative.

Step 5: Screw the lid in place.

Once the tomatoes are packed into the jars, and you add the lemon juice, wipe the rim of the jar.

Remove any remaining liquid or tomato pieces from this area. Then screw the lid into place. Next is the processing stage.

Step 6: Process the jars in the water bath.

Set up the water bath by filling the stockpot with enough water to submerge the jars.

When you place the jars in the pot, you should submerge their lids under 2 to 3 inches of water.

To prevent the jars from rattling against each other, you can place kitchen towels between them.

Switch on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Start the timer.

Let the jars sit in the boiling water for at least 90 minutes. For places at higher altitudes, you should increase the processing time further.

You will also have to increase the processing time if you use big canning jars.

Step 7: Remove the jars from the water bath.

After the tomatoes have been processed, you can lift them out of the water bath using jar lifters. Be gentle and carefully remove them from the water.

Place them in a convenient spot where they can sit undisturbed till they cool down. You can even leave them untouched overnight to give them enough time to cool.

Step 8: Put them in storage.

Inspect the jars the next day. If the processing was done properly, they will be tightly sealed. The center of the pop-up lids should be up, and there should be no leaks.

If any of the jars have sprung leaks, use them within a week. The rest can go into storage, and they will keep well for several months.

Important Do’s And Don’ts Of Canning Tomatoes

Homemade canned tomatoes

On tomato farms, canning facilities are usually located very close to the farm to minimize the time between plucking the fruits and canning them.

In these settings, canning happens within hours of plucking the ripe fruit. So the tomatoes will remain ripe, juicy, and delicious.

Professional tomato canning facilities use high-pressure canning equipment for this purpose.

Home gardeners can achieve similar results even if they don’t have such sophisticated canning equipment.

However, you should understand the basic requirements of canning and how it works to preserve tomatoes and achieve a good outcome.

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts to remember when canning tomatoes.

1. Acidity levels are important.

The main reason why tomatoes are good for canning is that they are acidic. The acidity levels vary for different types of tomatoes.

To ensure a safe acidity level, you should use preserving agents like lemon juice or citric acid crystals. These will keep your tomatoes at a safe acidity level and help them stay intact for longer.

2. Choose the right tomatoes for canning.

You should always pick high-quality tomatoes for canning. Since the tomatoes should last for a long time, it’s important to make sure that they are fresh and ripe.

Avoid using tomatoes affected by diseases like blight. These have a greater risk of getting spoiled.

3. Use clean and sterilized jars.

The jars used for canning should be well-sterilized and dry before you stuff them with tomatoes. Excessive moisture and the presence of germs increase the chances of spoiling.

So take care to clean and sterilize your canning jars and lids thoroughly before processing them.

4. Choose the right size jars for canning.

Canning jars are intended for canning purposes. Hence, these are the ideal choice.

Small jars are better suited for tomato products. It’s also important to separate the jars properly during the canning process. They shouldn’t rub or bang against each other.

You can either use a larger pot or separate the bottles using kitchen towels to prevent them from rubbing against each other.

5. Allow enough time for the processing stage.

During canning, it’s important to process the tomatoes for enough time. The necessary time duration will vary according to the variety of tomato and the type of canning method adopted.

However, to be on the safe side, it’s better to process it for longer than necessary.

As a general rule of thumb, you should process every type of tomato for at least 90 minutes to ensure it’s safe for consumption after storage.

Also, remember that the water bath method requires more time than pressure canning.

How To Can Tomato Juice Without A Canner?

By canning tomato juice at home, you can enjoy delicious tomato juice and use it to prepare tomato soups and sauces throughout the year.

To can tomato juice without a canner, you will need the following items:

  • a wide pan to cook the tomatoes,
  • ladles for transferring the processed tomatoes,
  • a jar lifter, and
  • a wide funnel.

Here’s how to go about the process.

1. Clean and cook the tomatoes.

Begin by washing the tomatoes thoroughly. You can avoid peeling them if it takes too long.

After cleaning, cut tomatoes into large chunks. Transfer them into a kettle, and cook on medium heat.

The tomatoes will release liquids during cooking. Stir them to make sure that they cook evenly.

2. Juice them.

Wait until they’re soft to juice the cooked tomatoes. You can choose any convenient method, like a juicer and strainer or suitable food processor attachment to convert the mushy tomato pulp into juice.

Regardless of the process, pass the juice through a sieve to separate the solids from the clear liquid. Repeat this process as many times as required based on how much pulp you want in your juice.

3. Transfer the juice into jars.

Sterilize the canning jars or bottles and their lids in boiling water.

Transfer the tomato juice into these jars. Use a wide funnel to fill it easily. Fill the jars only till the base of the neck.

4. Add salt and an acidic agent.

Tomato juice doesn’t spoil easily because it’s acidic. Nevertheless, it’s always better to add lime juice or another acidic agent to extend its life span.

You can use freshly squeezed lime juice, lime juice concentrate, or citric acid to create a safe level of acidity.

One tablespoon of lime juice per pint or quarter-teaspoon of citric acid per pint of tomato juice will ensure enough acidity.

While adding the acidity agent, you can also add salt in the ratio of 1/2 teaspoon per pint of liquid.

5. Wipe and seal the bottles.

After transferring the juice, wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth to remove any tomato residue. Then, screw the lid into place and seal the bottle.

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6. Place them in a water bath for canning.

Prepare a water bath with a large pot of water in a stockpot. It should have enough water to submerge the jars completely.

Bring it to a boil at medium heat. Then place the tomato juice jars inside it.

Make sure that the bottles don’t rattle against each other. If necessary, separate them with kitchen towels.

7. Process the tomato juice.

Continue to boil the water for thirty-five to forty minutes to seal the jars completely. The bottles should remain submerged in water throughout the process. Also, adjust the heat, so the water boils gently throughout the duration.

8. Remove the jars and let them cool.

After the jars have been processed for long enough, gently lift them out of the stockpot using a jar lifter. Rest the pots in a convenient location until they are cool.

Allow several hours for the juice to cool completely. The jars will seal as they cool. The center of the jar should be firm and upright when properly sealed.