Preserving Garden Tomatoes and Tomato Recipes

Ilah Garton provides a guide to canning tomatoes and edible applications, including tomato juice, sauces, soup, catsup, bouillon, freezing, pickles and how to beat the canning jar shortage.

| September/October 1975

  • Garden heirloom tomatoes
    Can your extra tomatoes and enjoy tomato juice, sauces and soups year-round.

  • Garden heirloom tomatoes

"You tell 'em I'm puttin' up 'maters for th' winter, that's what. People might laugh at such stuff as this, but I'll tell y', I'm not about to let 'em rot."  

— Hillard Green, quoted in The Foxfire Book.

Hillard Green has the right idea. The old adage "Waste not want not" applies for sure in these days of exorbitant food prices. And those of us who grow our own have always known the value of preserving nature's bounty for off-season use.

Preserving Tomatoes and Tomato Recipes

Since tomatoes are easy to grow and often plentiful, you may find yourself up to your ears in the ripe, scarlet fruit as frost approaches — and a few hints on the preservation of the harvest may be welcome, along with some tomato recipes to enjoy. I've also taken the canning jar shortage into account in preparing this article, and have included some guides to the use of alternative containers (along with directions for a couple of preservation methods which require no jars at all).

Canned Tomatoes

Tomatoes are really a fruit and have always been canned accordingly — by the cold pack method, in a boiling water bath. Until recently, the high acid content of all garden tomatoes made this practice perfectly safe.

Now, however, low-acid varieties of the fruit have been developed, and if you've heard nasty rumors about the possibility of botulism even in canned tomatoes, these new types are the culprits. If you're putting up such tomatoes, either raise their acidity by adding vinegar or process them in a pressure canner as you would any other low-acid food. The home economist at your county extension office can give you detailed instructions for handling of doubtful cases.

8/21/2013 10:25:15 PM

I love canning tomatoes, thanks! I recently found what to do with all of my leftover tomato skins and stems too. Check out

7/14/2012 6:59:14 PM

Gotta agree with Bunny. This article is extremely outdated and the methods are unsafe. Go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation ( ) for current recipes and canning methods.

Bunny Wilson
7/14/2012 5:01:09 PM

To Mother Earth News: It is astonishing to me that you, a reputable magazine, are stil promoting UNSAFE canning practices and outdated recipes! In my eyes, you seriously damage your integrity and reputation by not pomoting current, safe practices in food preservation. This is serious! You could cause some new but enthusiastic canner to injure her family with these unsafe practices. I hope you will reconsider your position. Promoting "the old ways" of doing things is one thing but safety has to be a top priority!

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