How to Can Tomatoes (Without A Canner)

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Learn how to can tomatoes, without using a canner. A good beginner canning recipe.


Tomatoes, enough to fill however many quart or pint jars you would like to can.

Canning jars and lids, in any size (pints are standard)

Stock pot

Sauce pot

Jar lifters

Dish towels

Lemon juice


In the sauce pan, boil water. Add lids and boil for approximately 3 minutes to sterilize.

Sterilize jars by boiling (put them in the water cold, then boil) or running in the dishwasher on the sterilize setting.

Peel the tomatoes: Boil a pot of water. Set a bowl of ice water next to it. Remove the stems and score small X’s in the base of the tomatoes with a knife. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water. Boil for one minute, or maybe two maximum. Remove tomatoes and place in the ice water bath. Gently wipe/tug skins off the tomatoes and discard.

Start your stock pot boiling with clean water.

Place tomatoes in warm jars up to 1 inch below the rim. Squish with a spoon to compact, then add more tomatoes up to 1/2″ below the rim.

Add lemon juice. For pints add 1 tablespoon, for quarts add two tablespoons.

Run a spoon around the edge of the jar to loosen up any bubbles and bring them to the surface. If you need to, add boiled water to fill the jars within 1/2″ of the rim.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel (anything left on the rim could spoil your tomatoes.

Place the lid on top, and screw the rings in place.

Add a rack or kitchen towel to the bottom of your stock pot to prevent jars rattling. Place still warm jars in the heating water. Submerge the jars entirely with water 2-3″ above the lids and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, remove the lid of the pot and start your timer for 85 minutes. 85 minutes is processing time between 0-1000 ft altitude. If you are at a higher altitude you will need to increase processing time, see these USDA guidelines for canning tomatoes for processing time at different altitudes. If you hear any jars rattling against each other, add a kitchen towel in between. Check periodically to see that the water level is still above the tops of the jars and add water if necessary.

Remove the jars after 85 minutes (or your increased processing time if you are at higher altitudes) using your jar lifter. Place them somewhere no one will bump or touch them and let them sit to cool, overnight is good. You may hear hissing when you take them out of the water – that’s totally fine. The jars’ seals will still be up at this point, they will suck in as the jars cool.

The next morning, check your jars. Are the seals down? Any leaks? If not, you’re all clear. If you still hear hissing, have jars with the lids still up, or see any leaks, stick them in the refrigerator and use them within a couple of days. Do not try to can them again. If you want to be extra sure your jars are sealed, you can remove the ring from the jar and hold the jar by the lid and it should stay on. You can even reuse the rings and store the jars without rings.

You have learned how to can tomatoes! Congratulations! Enjoy your stash all winter long.