There are so many different types of tomatoes it may be difficult to figure out which variety is best for your needs! If you are interested in canning and preserving your own food, their are certain things to look for for the perfect canning tomato! They type of tomato can make quite the difference in yields when preserving. 

Learn how to grow your own tomatoes so you can preserve and enjoy your own tomato harvest for pennies!

What Makes a Great Canning Tomato?

A great canning tomato is one that possesses certain qualities that make it well-suited for the process of canning and preserving. Here are some important characteristics that make a tomato variety ideal for canning:

Meatiness: Canning tomatoes should have a high flesh-to-juice ratio. This means they should be meaty with relatively less water content. This characteristic helps produce thicker sauces and preserves without excessive liquid.

Low Seed Content: Tomatoes with small seed cavities are preferable for canning, as seeds can add unwanted texture and increase the liquid content of canned products.

Sweetness and Flavor: While flavor preferences can vary, a balance of sweetness and acidity is generally a great flavor for canned tomato products. Tomatoes with good flavor contribute to better-tasting sauces, salsas, and other preserved items.

Consistent Size: Choose tomato varieties that have relatively uniform size and shape. This ensures that the tomatoes cook evenly and provide consistent results in your canned products.

Tough Skin: Tomatoes with thicker skins can hold up better during the canning process and resist breaking down into mush.

Disease Resistance: Selecting tomato varieties that are resistant to common diseases like blight and wilt can be advantageous, as it reduces the risk of your crop being affected by diseases that could impact the quality of your canned products.

Productivity: Look for tomato varieties that have a good yield, as you’ll want to have enough tomatoes to make the canning process worthwhile.

Easy to Peel: Some tomato varieties have skin that’s easier to peel after blanching. This can be important for certain types of canned products where peeled tomatoes are required.

Paste Tomatoes: Paste tomatoes, which are often oblong or pear-shaped, tend to be preferred for canning because of their thick flesh, low moisture content, and rich flavor. Varieties like Roma and San Marzano are popular choices for making tomato paste, sauces, and canned tomatoes.

Open-Pollinated or Heirloom Varieties: Open-pollinated and heirloom variety  tomato types are often favored by canners because they can have unique and flavorful characteristics that may be different from mainstream commercial hybrids.

Best Canning Tomatoes

Most of the time the best tomatoes for canning are determinate tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes generally grow 2-4 feet tall in more a bush form opposed to indeterminate tomatoes that grow in more of vine structure. Determinate tomatoes tend to produce high yields all at once and offer a more meaty fruit with little juice, while indeterminate tomatoes produce large fruit with a higher water content. Indeterminate varieties are generally grown for fresh eating and the perfect slicing tomato. 

Some of my favorite determinate tomato varieties to grow for home canning are:

Amish Paste: Amish Paste tomatoes is a heritage variety that excels in both flavor and versatility. Their taste and meaty flesh makes them a great variety for canning whole, dicing, or tomato paste.

San Marzano: Originating from Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are known for their meaty texture and fewer seeds. Their sweet flavor and mild acidity, makes them the perfect low-acid tomatoes.

Roma: Also known as plum tomatoes, Roma tomatoes are a staple in home canning kitchens for their thick skins and low water content. These tomatoes concentrate beautifully when cooked down, making them a great choice for homemade tomato sauce.

Tip: If you don’t have time to can tomato sauce, why don’t you try canning diced tomatoes! It’s quick, easy, and you don’t have to spend hours reducing the tomatoes. I like to do my first big batch of tomato sauce, and then whatever tomatoes I have left to harvest, I can them as diced tomatoes as they ripen.

Can You Use Cherry Tomatoes For Tomato Sauce?

Of course! You can honestly use any type of tomato variety to make your own homemade tomato sauce. The above varieties will most likely provide you with the best results in the least amount of time. A tomato that hold more water will need more time to reduce when cooking your tomato sauce.

Easy Tomato Sauce Recipe for Canning

Ingredients:

  • 20-25 pounds of  tomatoes (about 40-50 medium-sized tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (for acidity)
  • Optional: Fresh herbs (such as basil, oregano, or thyme) for added flavor

Equipment:

Prepare the Tomatoes

  • Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and remove any stems.
  • Cut the tomatoes in quarters and place in a large bowl

Prepare Your Canning Jars & Water Bath Canner

  • ​Soak your jars in a clean sink in hot soapy water for 30 minutes.
  • Scrub and rinse the jars to sterilize. You may also run your jars through your dishwasher on the sanitize setting.
  • Fill your water bath canner with hot water. Don’t turn your water bath canner on yet, you will have lots of time to prepare your canner while your sauce is cooking.

​Cook Your Tomatoes

  • In a large pot add 5-10 pounds of chopped tomatoes over medium-high heat. Add just enough water to cover to bottom of the pot to avoid burnt tomato skins.
  • Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking, until soft.
  • Transfer the tomatoes to your tomato mill and process through the mill. Repeat this step 2-3 times to ensure all of the meaty-goodness is captured through the food mill. 
  • Discard the seeds and skins in a separate bowl. 
  • Pour the tomato sauce into a large stockpot on medium heat.
  • Repeat the above steps until you have processed all of your tomatoes and it is all simmering in your large stockpot.
  • Add in your salt and stir.
  • Let the sauce simmer for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • The sauce is ready once it has thickened up to your desired consistency.

Prepare to Process in a Hot Water Bath

  • While the sauce is simmering, prepare your canning jars by sterilizing them. You can do this by placing the jars in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes. Also, sterilize the lids and bands in a separate pot of simmering water.
  • Carefully place the hot jars on a kitchen towel and pour a tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of the jar.
  • Once the sauce is ready, carefully ladle it into the sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.
  • Wipe the jar rims clean to ensure a good seal. Place the sterilized lids on the jars and screw on the bands until they are fingertip-tight (not overly tight).
  • Place the filled jars in a water bath canner or large stockpot filled with boiling water. Make sure the jars are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water.
  • Process the jars in the boiling water bath for about 35-40 minutes. Adjust the processing time based on your altitude if necessary (refer to canning guidelines for altitude adjustments).

Cooling & Storage

  • After processing, carefully remove the jars from the water and place them on a towel or cooling rack. Let them cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
  • Check the lids to ensure they have sealed properly. The lids should be slightly concave and not pop back when pressed in the center.
  • Label the sealed jars with the date and contents.
  • Store the cooled jars in a cool, dark, and dry place. Properly sealed jars can be stored for up to a year or more.

Is a Tomato Mill Worth It?

100x yes! This is my very first year using a tomato mill and I don’t know why I didn’t pick one up sooner! I used to dread making tomato sauce (but I still loved it at the same time)! This was because I hated removing the skins! It was never as easy as it is made out to be, and it would take up so much time! My sauce would be full of seeds, no matter how much I blended. 

​Get. This. Tomato. Mill. Like run now… It is such an inexpensive investment. You don’t need a fancy one right away. I plan on using this one until it breaks before I upgrade. I promise you will not be disappointed! 

Apple Peeler, Corer, and Slicer

Save time with your apple processing with this wonderful apple peeler!

How to Use This Tomato Sauce Recipe

You probably noticed that this recipe is very simple, no herbs or spices. That is because I like to use our tomato sauce for a variety of recipes that need a tomato sauce base. If I need the sauce reduced a little more or flavor, I add it when I am cooking to recipe. The great thing is this is a very easy recipe to replicate the simple canned tomato sauce that you would find on your grocery store shelves! 

I think this recipe is a great way to save money and trips to the grocery store! You can easily use this canned tomato sauce to use in recipes such as chilli, spaghetti sauce, casseroles, cabbage rolls, etc. There are so many different ways to use this tomato sauce, which is why I love it so much! 

More Canning Posts:

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Christin! If you look under the instructions “Prepare to Process in a Hot Water Bath” the second bullet point describes adding in the lemon juice to the jar for acidity purposes! I hope that helps!