Posted on 03 September 2007 by tomatocasual

The Definitive Guide to Canning Tomatoes (for Those Afraid of Poisoning Themselves)

Ultimate Guide to Canning Tomatoes (for Those Afraid of Poisoning Themselves)By Tomato Queen

I’ll admit that eying the stacks of gleaming tomato jars in my cabinet has brought almost as much satisfaction over the long, bleak months of winter as eating them in a delicious sauce or stew.

Canning (really, jarring) preserves the texture and flavors of tomatoes like nothing else, and is an affordable way to eat organic and/or heirloom tomatoes year-round.

But make no mistake: canning definitely takes time and equipment.

Those who haven’t canned find it daunting, but have no fear; following a few basic essentials–sterility, acidity, heat–will ensure safe and delicious tomatoes for 1-2 years.

Equipment you’ll need:

– Water Bath with Rack

Tomatoes are acidic enough that you don’t need a pressure cooker. If you don’t own a covered water bath (with rack) and mason jars, they’re often easily scored in rural/farm area garage sales and thrift stores. But for those who don’t have time to scour garage sales or your local craigslist, consider purchasing a water bath on eBay; where you can find a $60 piece of equipment for $16 or so.

– Mason Jars and Bands

I recommend wide-mouthed quart jars for tomatoes, as they’re easier to fill and a good size for cooking. Make sure the jars have no chips or cracks. These, too, you can often find in garage sales and thrift stores; or you can buy sets with rings and lids in mega mart stores and general stores alike. It’s pricy to buy jars new, but worthwhile if you’re using multiple times.

– Lids

These are the rubber-coated discs that the bands secure. These are inexpensive, and should always be used new.

– Canning Tongs

You can also use regular kitchen tongs, but they are unwieldy and take extra care.

– Optional

There are canner’s wands, which are little plastic pen-sized tools with a magnet on the end, for fishing the lids out of hot water.


– Loads of Ripe Tomatoes!
– Canning/pickling salt (or kosher salt). No iodine.
– A pint of fresh lemon juice (bottled works)
– Several basil leaves, cleaned and patted dry

Step 1: Prep

– Fill water bath 2/3rds full and bring water to a boil; then keep at a near-simmer until ready to can. Bring a second large stock pot of water to boil for blanching/peeling later.

– Take clean mason jars and bands and sterilize in the hot water bath by boiling for 3-5 minutes. Remove with tongs and let dry on clean towels.

– Wash all tomatoes thoroughly. Best not to use any tomatoes that have rotten parts at all.

– You might want to separate your tomatoes, by type, variety, and/or color if you care about such things, so that you can use your paste tomatoes for sauces and your green zebras for stews, etc.

– Keep the coated lids in a small pot of hot water on the stove (do not boil).

Step 2: Blanch, Peel and Trim

To keep skins from floating and marring sauces, soups and stews:

– Drop several tomatoes into the stock pot for 30-60 seconds. (This is easiest in a wire basket, but also works to scoop out with a strainer.) Drop into bowl/pot of cold water.

– Then just peel the skins right off.

– Cut the cores and any inedible spots from the tomatoes. Optional: if using paste tomatoes, which are full of pectin and not much juice, you may wish to squeeze/scrape out the seeds from the center.

Step 3: Fill the Jars

Now you’re ready to can!

– Fill the jars with tomatoes, leaving no more than 1 inch of space.

– Use a chopstick or slender rubber spatula to press the tomatoes down so that any air pockets fill with juices. Fill with more tomatoes if need be.

– Top off the jar with 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and a basil leaf to each quart (1 Tbsp of lemon to a pint). If there’s food residue on the top of the jar, wipe off with a clean paper towel.

– Take a clean lid from the lid pot and place onto the filled jar. Screw on the band (no need to make this too tight) and put aside.

– Repeat until you’ve used up all your jars or tomatoes! Jars really do need to be full to seal; you don’t want to can jars with too much air in them.

Step 4: Bathe and Cool

– Bringing the water bath back to boil, bring the rack up so that the handles are resting over the sides of the pot. Load the jars onto the rack and gently lower the rack into the water. The water should cover the jars by at least 1-2 inches.

– Cover the canner and let process for 45 minutes for quarts; 40 minutes for pints.

– Raise the rack back up and carefully remove the hot jars, leaving them to cool on a clean towel (cooling racks are nice, too, on top of towels).

– Repeat with the rest of the jars until all have been canned.

– Let cool: you’ll hear popping noises for the next ½ – 12 hours as the jars cool and seal, one by one. You may wish to remove the bands while the jars dry so as not to get rusty. You can re-screw them on again later, if you’d like, or not; they’re not necessary after your jar has sealed.

If you have any jars that have not sealed after 12 hours, refrigerate! Occasionally through a defect in the lid or jar, you may get one or two that refuse to seal.

Store the jars out of direct sunlight, and your tomatoes and juice should bring you pleasure for months to come.

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52 Responses to “The Definitive Guide to Canning Tomatoes (for Those Afraid of Poisoning Themselves)”

  1. tomatocasual Elisa Says:

    I have been canning for 50 years. This year we canned 200 tomato jars (born in Italy).
    Some suggestions: After blanching and cutting the tomatoes, I remove practically all seeds and place the chopped tomotes into a very large cheese cloth to drain the water. Add salt (for preservation). Then fill the jars. I never add lemon juice, just a lot of fresh basil. No rack or expensive gadgets in this house. I bathe the jars in a very large pot which I received from a restaurant.

  2. tomatocasual Tomato Queen Says:

    Hi, Elisa–

    Thanks for posting w/the variations, esp. what you use for your hot water bath.

    The farmers of our favorite local CSA don’t even give their tomatoes a water bath, which I find kind of alarming–they just fill & close the jars and turn them upside-down. So far, knock on wood, no casualties, but I’m not game to forego the hot water bath!

  3. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    My recipe doesn’t include lemon juice or salt and just a couple leaves of Basil. I have started using an Italian seeder/squisher which speads the process. I still do the hot/cold water process to make the skins easy off but if a bit of skin is still on the seeder takes care of them.

    Just getting ready for this year. Anna

  4. tomatocasual Adam Says:

    As a producer of tomatoes I am wanting to make tomato juice and can it in mason jars to sell at farmer’s market. Everyone I know does not use any additional acid(lemon juice). But everthing I read says to use it. I think the taste suffers with added lemon juice, and I do not want to add sugar either. I am an organic grower and want to preserve and sell the juice in its purest form.
    Some sources if you use a pressure canner rather than hot water bath, you can omit the additional acid.
    Must I add the lemon juice?

  5. tomatocasual Sabrina Says:

    Can i use water and olive oil as an alternative to lemon juice? I’m new at canning as well! Thank you.

  6. tomatocasual Erika Says:

    Hi there – I sure hope you get this question b4 it’s too late. Last night I was canning tomatoes and I was very tired, I got a little impatient and only did the hot bath for about 15 min and didn’t know to check fo air bubbles.
    Is it possible to take lids off and start over with the sealing process? I didn’t add any boiling water to them and they weren’t completely covered with their own juices. I really don’t want to have to refrigerate 10 pints of tomatoes. I don’t think any of them popped. I never had this happen, but I guess you can’t be in a hurry when you are canning. Thank you – Erika

  7. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    You’ll have to redo for a longer time but I do not think those lids can be reused. At least I never reuse the lids. They are cheaper than the redo labor. My neighbor reuses lids but never did.

    The problem will be now is the inner fixin’s, tomatoes are not hot which helps the canning, and speeds the boiliing water process.

    Pop the lids off. Wipe the top of glass as it might have tomato on it. Any air bubbles should have risen to the top, so no big deal but make sure it is within an inch of the seal. I would put the pints in just hot water so the glass doesn’t explode and then bring to boil.

    Good luck, I started making a check list so I can check off each process when its done. I get chemo brain fog and am always afraid of skipping a step. You can also write down each step as you do it and then use that as a list to check the next time.


  8. tomatocasual Sarah Says:

    I have a similar question to Erika but without the time problem. We just canned a about 8 quarts and 4 pints of tomatoes and it wasn’t until the last batch (4 pints) that I remembered to get the air bubbles out. They were in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes and popped right when I took them out of the bath. There are still some visible air bubbles in the jar, which is filled with tiny whole romas and a tomato juice/sauce pack. There is at least 1/2-1 inch headroom at the top, will this be enough to prevent the air bubbles from popping the top? Should I just refrigerate them to be safe, leave alone the ones that stay sealed, or start over and get new lids? Thank you so much your help is greatly appreciated!

  9. tomatocasual Erika Says:

    Hi – I just thought I’d give you the update. I took your advise and bought new lids, $1.47 is a pretty small price to pay verses taking the chance of getting sick. So, I unsealed the jars, added a little boiling water, (I didn’t leave room at the top) sealed, did boiling bath for about 35 min – this morning all had popped! Thank you so much for your help – Erika

  10. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    Erika, glad it worked. I should have mentioned when one jar doesn’t pop for me. I pull out a freezer bag and freeze, a very simple solution.

    Sarah. I forget about the air bubbles all the time. Nothing happens. Except I am pretty sure you should leave ONE inch or less at the top.


  11. tomatocasual MaryAnn Says:

    Hi There – Ok , so I canned last nite…have done plenty of jam’s and fruits before but my first time with tomatoes…I made stewed tomatoes…while still very hot put them in the pint jars (left more then an inch room and forgot to stir out bubbles) I processed them in a pressure canner/cooker for 20 mins….after it “de-presurized” I openned it and took my jars out and it was SOOOO weird it appeared that the jars continued to boil for at least 5 minutes all these bubbles were rising. BUT all the jars sealed…are they ok?

  12. tomatocasual Eric Says:

    Hi.. My friend canned my tomatoes from my garden while I was out of town. But she just heated the jars in the oven, boiled the tomatoes, and then canned them that way. I am not so sure that this is a safe thing to do. I do not want to throw away my jars or tomatoes, but I am now a bit afraid! Please help.

  13. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    The tomatoes sure do continue to boil that is why you need to be careful about cold air hitting then, like a fan or AC. Also that is the reason you do not move them for 12 hours (or over night which ever is easier).

    Why did your friend can and not follow instructions? What a waste of time and energy. If she just did the past couple days, take them out of jars and freeze.


  14. tomatocasual Julie Says:

    My mother has passed, darn and just when I needed to ask a question about canning tomatoes. I feel very certain that she did a cold pack for tomato canning by filling the jars with tomatoes, putting them in a kettle of cold water, bringing them to a boil, (here is the part I don’t remember) I want to say that she might have boiled them for 5 minutes, but I know that she turned off the burner and left the canned tomatoes in the kettle until the water had cooled before she removed them Any one ever try this method?

  15. tomatocasual kim Says:

    I just canned 7 quarts of tomato juice and didn’t add lemon juice. Is it a must? I put a teaspoon of salt in each jar and put them in a water bath canner for 40 minutes. They are sealing as I type but there is seperation with liquid at the bottom. i guess this is normal. this canning stuff is really hard.

  16. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    Don’t know anything about cold canning, and only boiling 5 minutes because that doesn’t sound right to me.

    Kim, I never use lemon juice and my recipes do not include it. I think they add it to add more acid.


  17. tomatocasual Emily Says:

    I canned 12 pints of tomatoes last week. I’m a first timer, so at the advice of a veteran, I processed them in a water canner and boiled them for about 25 minutes. Everything I read says to process for at least 40 minutes. Do I scrap this batch and start over?

    Thanks for any help you can offer…

  18. tomatocasual Emily Says:

    p.s. The cans did seal after I removed them from the bath…

  19. tomatocasual kim Says:

    Emily i would think if it seals you are good. I am new at this to so maybe someone with more experience will comment. Does anyone know what to do to stop tomato juice from seperating after you can it

  20. tomatocasual Tomato Casual »  Tomato Casual Answers Reader’s Tomato Canning Question Says:

    […] I am sorry you are having trouble with your canning! […]

  21. tomatocasual Tomato Casual »  Tomato Casual Answers Reader’s Canning Tomatoes Question Says:

    […] I am sorry you are having trouble with your canning! […]

  22. tomatocasual Julie Says:

    I tried mine the way I believe mom did by packing the tomatoes cold(after a dip in boiling water to remove skins), bring to a boil for 5 minutes, turn off the burner and wait for the jars to cool before removing them from the kettle and they are sealed. I know that the water stayed hotter longer because by kettle was stainless steel and my mother used a granite kettle. As long as the jars stay sealed am I to guess that it worked?

  23. tomatocasual Julie Says:

    As far as separating tomato juice goes, I have made thick sauces from the San Marzano and it didn’t require as much boiling to get it thick and there was no separation. It is a good roma style even though the San Remo which is also a nice romo but a little larger. Both are heirlooms, so save those seeds. When mom did tomato juice, she always had separation but gave it a shake and never complained about the taste. Even with separation, it has to taste better than that stuff you buy in the store. I always have to wonder how green some of those tomatoes must be when they are processed.

  24. tomatocasual Christina Miller Says:

    I haven’t canned in about 5 years, but have just put up 26 1 1/2 pints of stewed (so versatile), 4 quarts chopped & 16 jars of salsa. If you have questions, go online & look at websites for Ball or Kerr or the USDA site for helpful hints. The salt is for flavoring only (although generally salt does act as a slight perservative). The vinegar or bottled lemon juice is very important! Waterbath canning, as opposed to Pressure canning, is dependent upon proper acidity levels. Does it change flavor, yes slightly, but not worth throwing a weekends worth of work away or constantly wondering if everything is going to be okay. Tomatoes are acidic, but if they are overripe they will have less acidity (counter intuative huh?)I think the pH should be around 4.5 or so for safety concerns. If you add non-acidic items (herbs, onions, peppers) you should increase the amount of added acidifier to offset decreased acidity. Always clean jars w/ hot soapy water & sterilize for 10 mintues in boiling canning kettle. Rings can go in also, but for the lids: wash & place in sauce pan w/ hot (not boiling)water until needed. Add salt & vinehar to jars 1st, then fill to 1/2″-1″ of tops. Wipes rims w/clean papertowel or cloth. Place lid on jar & hold lid down while screwing on ring to ensure proper seating. Don’t overfill jars or contents will bubble up under the lid & prevent proper sealing. Start time when water has returned to gentle boil & process for time recommended (I go by 30 min/pint or 45min/qt). Let set until cool & then I give the jars a shake to redistribute the contents (cooking causes separation). You won’t always hear the “click” when sealing. Test the top with your finger, if it doesn’t move, your good to go. If it still pops up&down, reseal w/in 24 hrs with new lid(!), use right away or put in freezer bag & freeze. Fresh canned tomoes are better than anything you can buy!!!!!! Happy canning!!!

  25. tomatocasual Alan Says:

    I can tomatoes the way my grandmother and her sisters did and my family in Canada does. Boil tomatoes until skin cracks, I then pass them through my Omra electric tomato press (a must for any quantity). Tip: I pass the skins through a second time which yields more juice. This is then boiled on the stove until thick. Mean time jars (already washed) are being heated in the oven. Hot sauce goes into hot jars with basil. They are covered with a blanket to help cool gradually. Check lids in morning, they should all be depressed. In some of the jars we add sauteed onion and garlic so that in the winter we simply open the jar and heat the sauce. My cousins in Italy put sausage in the jars while they are canning. I must admit I have not been brave enough to try this.

  26. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    Interesting about the blanket over the jars. Hmmm, In these modern times, a blanket might be good if you have AC or fans near it. The jars can explode if hit by cool air.

    I’ve only added basil so far. “Joy of Cooking” doesn’t recommend garlic in pickles because of the natural bacteria it contains so I assumed no garlic for anything.

    I wonder if lemon is a recent addition? Esp since I doubt my mother had access to lemon juice, I don’t think those plastic lemons came out till the 70’s. I’ve been canning w/o and its been fine so I’m not going to start.


  27. tomatocasual Rose Says:

    My mother-in-law has a big garden every year and a few years ago (3 – 5) canned several jars of tomatoes for all her kids. Shamefully, we haven’t eaten all of them. My question is are they still good? The jars are all sealed, the tomatoes are still a beautiful red. They have been stored in a cool, dry place since we received them. I would love to use them to make spaghetti sauce if they’re still good.

  28. tomatocasual Says:

    Hi Rose – Our Tomato Casual writer Amelia had the following thought regarding your question.

    “It sounds like they would be edible, but in reality, I would not try it-they probably would taste pretty washed out by now. There can be a change in color, due to the minerals in water reacting with the acid in tomatoes, too. Still edible but not normal colored. The best bet is to can enough product to use within the year. When in doubt, throw away OR boil for 15 to 20 minutes before tasting.”

  29. tomatocasual Nancy Says:

    So many people writing here about leaving out the lemon juice and/or not water-bathing the filled jars. I am really getting worried about your safety!

    There’s a reason that ALL scientific experts in canning, such as Ball, Kerr, and university extension offices, insist upon lemon juice and prescribed times for water bathing. It’s to prevent bacteria from growing inside those sealed jars. The water-bathing attempts to kill any bacteria present. However, water boils at 212 degrees and some bacteria can survive that. The lemon juice increases acidity, which provides a hostile environment in the jar for those bacteria that survive the temperature.

    That’s for just tomatoes. When you add other ingredients that are not acidic — herbs (including basil), onions, peppers, garlic, meat — it becomes much more dangerous because of the greatly lower acidity. Those bacteria that survive 212 degrees can also survive in the less acid environment inside your jar. In that case, pressure canning is recommended. The increased pressure means the boiling temperature will be higher than 212 degrees, killing those tougher bacteria.

    Just because jars are sealed does not mean they’re safely canned. The jars have been filled with hot stuff and lidded, so when they cool a partial vacuum forms and sucks down the lids. That doesn’t mean bacteria are killed. You’re planning to put these jars on a shelf for a year or more, at room temperatures, so it’s important that no bacteria be able to grow in there.

    So, although you’ve “been canning w/o and its been fine so I\’m not going to start” — you’ve just been lucky so far. All it would take is one bacteria-contaminated jar and you could be very, very ill or worse. Please, folks, if you’re going to home can anything, take the time to find out the safe way to do it. Don’t take shortcuts or do it the way your grandmother did.

  30. tomatocasual kim Says:

    nancy I am so glad someone finally spoke up about all the short cuts to canning. I am astay at home mom of 4 young children and altough the short cuts sound nice. It just didn’t seem the proper way to can and keep on the shelf. This is my first year of putting up tomatoes. I used alot of the Mrs. Wages packets and made a ton of salsa, spaghetti sauce, and chili seasoning. None of these called for lemon juice just vinegar. What exactly do you put the lemon juice in. has anyone heard of using green tomatoes for relish? Also when my jars have sealed I have noticed when I unscrew the lid there is rust on the top of the lid. I assume that after taking out of the water bath there is water in between. How can i stop this. This is new lids and rings that cant be used agian.

  31. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    I have never taken any short cuts, I always sterilze the jars and boil them for the proper time. I have all the old canning instruction books and none, including Ball suggest lemon juice or Vinegar. My ‘Joy of Cooking” doesn’t either. Its got to be a recent addition.

    I agree about a partial seal happens just with the tomatoes being heated up. The last time I had trouble fitting the full jars into the canner so I left two out to be fitted in after all the other were put in and those two softly popped as I put them into the water bath. To see I checked and the centered moved so it was partial seal even before sealing.


  32. tomatocasual Audrey Says:

    Hi, I just canned my first batch of tomatoes and when I took them out of the water bathe, I noticed a lot of separation in the bottoms of the jars as if it were water. Did anyone else have this problem? Also i noticed some tomato juice on the towel when cooling. Did the seal? How could they if there is residue on the bottom of the jar? I tightened the band just as directed so they shouldn’t have been able to leak. I’m a little frustrated. I hope someone can help me out with this. Thanks, Audrey

  33. tomatocasual Anna Says:

    Don’t worry about the separation at all. Either shake it before using and cook down some or pour so keep it separated.

    Now about the residue. Hmmm, Did you leave space at the top? Read the instructions at the top of this page, you need to leave space but not too much space. You need the space because of the boiling.

    If it only happened to one or two jars, you can pop them in the frig and eat them first. Is the center of the seal firm? How about the rings, don’t tighten them now, now you can take them off. Is there tomato on the inner part?

    Please don’t be too frustrated. You have done well you even try it the first time. Each time it gets easier as you develop a routine. When you enjoy it on a cold winter night, you will not remember the frustration just the sweet success.


  34. tomatocasual Audrey Says:

    Okay, I know what I did wrong. I didn’t follow the instructions exactly. Instead of putting the lids in a pot of water on the stove, I put them in a bowl of warm tap water thinking that was good enough, obviously not so. I have to say that they did seal but I took them off and threw them away and got new ones out and reprocessed them by putting the lids in hot water in a pot on the stove and made sure the rims were very clean as directed. And I must say everything came out looking good so far. Thanks again, Audrey

  35. tomatocasual Jack Etsweiler Says:

    Kim: I understand that the rings are just to keep the lid properly positioned on the jar until the canning process is completed. After that, once everything is cooled and sealed, you can remove the rings and use them again. Never reuse the lids.

  36. tomatocasual dana Says:

    i am opening my last jar of tomatoes and there is white film at the bottom of the jar?? is it safe to eat them. i haven’t opened it yet

  37. tomatocasual In the canner « Meghan_E’s Blog Says:

    […] Tomato Casual (I love that the subtitle of this tutorial is “for Those Afraid of Poisoning Themselves.”) […]

  38. tomatocasual jamie Says:

    Hi I just jarred tomatoes or anything really for the first time. I left more than 1″ of space on top. I boiled for 45 min and every jar sealed after removing. Are they going to be alright, also the tomatoes are on top and liquid is on bottom is this normal?

  39. tomatocasual Mimi Says:

    Please listen to Nancy’s comments on using lemon juice! Supposedly the amount of lemon juice used doesn’t really alter the flavor of your tomatoes. I just took a canning class today and learned that it is VERY IMPORTANT to use some bottled lemon juice (not fresh from a lemon) at the top of each jar of tomatoes that you process. The experienced instructor said that the USDA recommends this after seeing people getting deathly ill from canned tomatoes throughout the years. Sure poisoning doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it is very serious – if it happens to you, it would matter! Science has proven that the acid in bottled lemon juice is helpful and is an extra precaution, if you are canning using the water bath method as opposed to the pressure cooker method (in this case, no lemon juice would be necessary because of the higher temperature in a pressure cooker). Even ONE SPORE that survives could give you botulism, so please use lemon juice to stop this. We learned today that the water bath method of canning is only safe for jams, jellies, fruits (which have enough acid), tomatoes with lemon juice, and pickled vegetables covered in a vinegar broth — no exceptions. Everything else, including all vegetables, tomatoes without lemon juice, and meats should be processed with a pressure cooker.

  40. tomatocasual Kat Says:

    I packed my tomatoes in quart jars, got rid of air bubbles, filled to 1/2 of top. Pressure canned 45 min. Lids are sealed, but there is water in bottom, tomatoes at top and about 3 inches of empty space. Why the empty space? Is it air? What did I do wrong?

  41. tomatocasual catherine jondreau Says:

    i need your help.. i just realized that i used regular salt in my first batch of tomato juice i canned !!
    Will they be ok?

  42. tomatocasual Sam Says:

    I just took the tomatoes out of the pressure cooker. I had let them cool in their 2 hours, because I had to go out after turning the heat off. When I took the tomatoes out the entire jar was full, with a ton of air bubbles rushing towards the top. I presume this is just everything settling out – but is there anything to be concerned about?

  43. tomatocasual Patty Says:

    I canned some tomatoe 48 hour ago and now don’t feel like they are safe… They did all seal, can I still just throw them in the freezer to be safe?

  44. tomatocasual Tori Says:

    This is my first time and I’m freaking out! I’m a mother of 2 and I don’t want to get my kids sick. I’m using a water bath to seal my tomatoe sauce but no where did the recipe call for lemon juice! Now what do I throw it all out? Can I put them in the freezer?

    I didn’t use fresh tomatoes I used cans of crashed tomatoes, cheating I know but until my kids are bigger this is the cheaper and tastier way to go than preggo! What does this mean for acid levels? Will I have more or less acid if I used a can tomatoes and added onions, carrots and a little cheese?


  45. tomatocasual RuthPrepper Says:

    Lemon juice (or citric acid, etc.) is needed ONLY if you are water-bath canning and your tomatoes have borderline acidity.

    Boutilism doesn’t grow in high-acid foods. Many modern hybrids have borderline acidity. If you are not sure, do a pH test, or add lemon juice, or pressure-can it.

    Boiling (112 degress) is NOT hot enough to kill Boutilism bacteria, which can be deadly. (Other symptoms include hallucinations and difficulty breathing.) A pressure canner will get it to the necessary 140 degrees.

    If you live above 1000 feet, pressure can EVERYTHING, because your water will boil BELOW 112 degrees.

  46. tomatocasual RuthPrepper Says:

    Oh, I forgot to add:

    Molds, etc, LIKE high-acid foods. Hench everything must AT LEAST be boiled, and if you live above 1000 feet, everything must be pressure-canned, because water boils at a lower temperature up there.

  47. tomatocasual RuthPrepper Says:

    Catherine, the type of salt isn’t critical, it’s just that table salt usually has additives (such as iodine, which is good for you), and these additives can make the liquid look cloudy.

    It’s no big deal. Just buy canning salt, non-iodized salt, or sea salt next time, so your food will look better.

  48. tomatocasual RuthPrepper Says:

    Assuming the tomatoes/recipe had high enough acidity, and were canned and sealed properly, PICKLED items are good for DECADES.

    FYI, boiling for 15-20 minutes won’t do anything to kill Boutilism in low-acid foods. Water boils at 212 degrees; it takes 240 to kill Boutilism! Also, once Boutilism has done its work (produced toxins as its waste material), killing it is like shutting the barn after the horse has escaped; the toxin would still be there.

    When in doubt, throw it out.


  49. tomatocasual RuthPrepper Says:


    It is not safe to can a mixture of high-acid and low-adid foods using the water-bath method.

    Onions and carrots are not acidic, and MUST be pressure canned. The boiling point of water (212 degrees) is not hot enough to kill Boutilism.

    It would be safe to re-process them if you just canned them yesterday.

    (I see Tori posted last year, but someone else might have this question.)

  50. tomatocasual Bev Sayers Says:

    Why the empty space? I have about 2 to 3 inches of empty space above the tomatoes and I am wondering if they are safe to eat?? SEALS ARE GOOD AND COLOUR IS GOOD…

  51. tomatocasual susan Says:

    I canned tomato sauce from garden for the first time. I learned if adding lemon juice AFTER I canned. I grew these tomatoes. My recipe called for a 30 minute water bath. However, I slow cooked the tomatoes in the stove for 6 hours before canning. I ready to throw them out for fear if botulism….anyone????

  52. tomatocasual Laura Thomas Says:

    I just canned tomatoes for the first time and the recipe did not call for lemon juice. Should I throw them out? Also one jar of sauce in the middle of the night popped its top a bit it looks like it was bubbling so I threw it out, should I throw the rest out and start over again new?

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