Vine-ripened Tomatoes Packed in Water (Raw-Pack Method) is a good way to preserve all those extra tomatoes you have grown for use later.
I harvested a lot of tomatoes towards the end of October before our first frost. There was no way we could eat them all and so canning them was the obvious decision. I started by making salsa and after so many jars, it was time to try something else. Pictures of jars of whole tomatoes in water caught my eye and I wanted to give it a try. My go-to guide is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (affiliate link) for safe canning and I simply followed their recipe using the different varieties of tomatoes I had harvested.
Beautiful Jars of Tomatoes Packed in Water
I am so glad I decided to give this a try as they turned out beautifully. I chose small, evenly sized Martino’s Roma, Glacier Bush, Orange Hat, and Honeycomb Hybrid tomatoes. There wasn’t sufficient Honeycomb Hybrid tomatoes to fill a jar and so I packed in some Glacier Bush tomatoes. Aren’t the jars of tomatoes beautiful? I can’t wait to use them in the days ahead.
When you do water bath canning, safety of your canned food is of utmost importance. Always play it safe. Use the best and freshest ingredients. Remember, your canned foods will only be as good as the ingredients you put in. Do not add ingredients in the jar that are not permitted like dairy products, eggs, oil, starch, pasta, rice, noodles, bread, cakes, and dense purees. These ingredients may prevent the destruction of harmful microorganisms during the canning process and interfere with the transfer of heat during processing, allowing bacteria to survive.
You do not have to and you must not flavor your canned foods 100%, with all kinds of seasonings that are not permitted, at the point of canning. Do that only when you open the jar and reheat its contents. Add oil, herbs, spices, and other flavorings, if desired.
Acidity in Water Bath Canning
The pH value 4.6 is the dividing line between foods that can be safely processed in a water bath canner versus a pressure canner. Foods with a pH greater than 4.6 require pressure canning. Always use white or apple cider vinegar with 5% acidity.
Most rice vinegar has an acidity of only 4.3% to 4.5% and is not suitable for water bath canning. They can be used for refrigerator pickles. There are rice vinegars with higher than 5% acidity. I found this one with 9% acidity which I think is safe to use.
If the recipe calls for bottled lemon juice, do not use fresh lemon juice. Acidity of fresh lemons may vary based on variety and growing conditions. Bottled lemon juice has an acidity level that is consistent. So, for safety reasons, please use bottled lemon juice when the recipe calls for it.
Salt in Water Bath Canning
Pickling & canning salt is recommended for home food preservation because it is pure salt without any anti-caking agents or additives that are often found in table salt. Additives can add a cloudy and/or darkened look to the pickle brine. It is best to use this salt if there is a clear brine as is the case with these canned tomatoes.
Since tomatoes have a pH of between 4.3 and 5, it needs to be pressure canned unless you add some bottled lemon juice or vinegar to it. Generally, You will need to add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice to a pint (16 oz) jar or 2 tablespoons to a quart (32 oz) jar before packing the tomatoes into the jar. This will increase the acidity to a safe level for water bath canning.
There are two methods for canning tomatoes – Raw-Pack Method and Hot-Pack Method. I decided to go with the Raw-Pack Method as I did not want my vine-ripen tomatoes to break up while they boil in the Hot-Pack Method.
Similar Tools Used in This Tomatoes Packed in Water Post
This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy here.
Food Strainer and Sauce Maker for Tomato, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
20 Quart Stainless Steel Canning Pot Set
8 Piece Enamelware Water Bath Canning Set
Ball Regular Mouth 16-Ounces Mason Jar with Lids and Bands, 12-Pack
Ball Regular Mouth Pint 16-oz Mason Jar with Lids and Bands (Pack of 24)
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
The Complete Book of Home Canning
Tomatoes Packed in Water (Raw-Pack Method)
- 10 lbs (4.5kg) tomatoes (use ripe but firm tomatoes)
- 6 cups (1.5 liters) boiling water
- 3½ tsp pickling & canning salt
- 7 tbsp bottled lemon juice
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in small batches, immerse tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 to 60 seconds until skins start to loosen or crack. Firmer tomatoes will take a longer time.
- Remove tomatoes with a metal strainer and immediately plunge them into a container of cold water.
- Peel off the skins. They should come off easily. Leave the tomatoes whole.
- Wash jars in warm, soapy water. Place a rack at the bottom of a boiling-water canner and washed jars on the rack. Fill the jars about 2/3rd full and the canner up to the same level as the jars with water. Cover the canner and bring water to a simmer (with small bubbles).
- Wash lids and bands with warm soapy water. Drop them into the canner together with the jars. When ready to use, take them out from the canner with a pair of tongs. Dry them with a clean towel.
- Bring 6 cups (1.5 liters) of water to a boil. Keep it simmering on the stove until ready to be used.
- Carefully remove jars from canner with jar lifter, pouring hot water from each jar back into canner and place them on a towel. You can also remove and fill them one at a time.
- Add ½ teaspoon pickling & canning salt and 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice into each jar.
- Pack tomatoes into jars within ½ inch of top of jar. Ladle boiling water to cover tomatoes.
- Slide a non-metallic utensil between tomatoes and inside the jar to release any air bubbles. Adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more boiling water.
- Wipe the rim clean with a paper towel. Center a warm lid on jar and screw on the band until fingertip tight. Repeat with the remaining jars.
- Carefully lower jars with jar lifter back into the canner. Make sure jars are completely covered with about an inch of water above the lids. Bring water to a rolling boil and process jars for 40 minutes, adjusting for altitude. The water must remain at a rolling boil for the duration of the processing time.
- At the end of the processing time, turn off heat, and remove the canner lid. Allow the canner to cool for 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove the jars with jar lifter without tilting them. Place jars upright on a clean towel. Do not worry about the water on the lids. It will evaporate during the cooling period.
- Check lids after 24 hours. Remove the bands. Lids should not flex up and down when pressed. You can also grasp the edges of the lid and lift the jar while supporting the jar with your other hand. A sealed lid will stay firmly attached to the jar. Jars that have not sealed properly must be refrigerated and content consumed within a few days.
- Label and store sealed jars in a cool, dark place, and consume within 12 months.
|Increase in Processing Time