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Published on August 31, 2016

Preserve it Right: Tips for Canning Tomatoes

Is your garden overflowing with fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions? Why not can all this fresh produce instead of letting it go to waste! Hy-Vee Dietitian Anna Schroeder has some great tips and tricks on how to safely can tomatoes to enjoy later this winter. Her go-to source is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.

  • There are two ways to can food at home: the boiling water method and the pressure-canning method.
  • Improperly canned tomatoes have caused some cases of botulism poisoning in recent years. Botulism comes from dangerous toxins that are produced when Clostridium botulinum spores grow in low-acid foods. Tomato products are safe as long as lids remain sealed. Never use tomatoes or tomato juice that shows evidence of mold.
  • Tomatoes vary in acidity based on type, growing conditions, climate and location. Use only firm, ripe tomatoes that have no spoiled parts or mold. Tomatoes harvested from dead vines are low in acid. They can be eaten fresh or frozen, but do not can tomatoes from dead vines.
  • Do not add any ingredients beyond those given in the directions. Adding other vegetables can lower the acidity and change the processing time.
  • Choose standard jars and lids. Check jars and lids for cracks, chips, dents and rust; those defects cause sealing failures.
  • Don’t overfill jars, this can cause them not to seal properly. Tomatoes typically need ½ inch of headspace if processed in boiling water.

Happy canning this fall.

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