Preserving Tomatoes

27 March 2018
Summer is well and truly over in Canberra. I've had to pull out the nanna knee rug two days in a row this week! Luckily I've been busy preserving little bits of summer to enjoy for the cold wintery months ahead.

My biggest summer preserve this year was tomatoes. For the past five years I've been bottling my own tomatoes to substitute tin tomatoes and tomato passata and making my own tomato sauce. The taste of home preserved tomatoes is much nicer, I can source local tomatoes and I can reuse my jars. Triple win.

The first year I went the whole hog, cooked down the tomatoes and put them through a hand operated strainer and bottled them up. It was a lot of work. The second year I had a two month old baby on my hands and so I found an easier way. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking here.

First, get your hands on some tomatoes, sort out any not so fresh ones and wash the rest.

Get chopping into quarters, sixths or eights depending on size.

Start filling your jars and squishing the tomatoes as you go - I use a chopstick.

A comparison between the squished and non-squished jar from the top.

As you can see from the pics I use fowlers vacola jars. Previously I was doing the tomatoes in old passata jars that I saved and reused but I rehomed these in our move. So just use what you have. If you don't want to go through the preserving process you could just freeze whole or chopped up tomatoes and spend the saved time sipping a tasty drink in the summer sun.

Once your jars are full you need to add a little citric acid or lemon juice to ensure they are the right acidity for water bath preserving. My instructions advise 1/4tsp citric acid or 2tsps lemon juice per 600ml jar and 1/2tsp citric acid or 1Tblsp lemon juice per 900ml jar. You can find citric acid near the baking powder at your supermarket.

Now it's time to pop on your lids and relevant sealing paraphenalia for your jar of choice and process in a water bath. I use my fowlers vacola unit but you can do it on the stovetop (check out this site for water bath canning instructions).

Out of the water and into the pantry they go.

Once cooled you can stock up your pantry and feel free to open the door whenever you pass to enjoy the sight of your beautifully preserved bounty.

Now, if I'm using these in place of tin tomatoes I just put them straight in my recipe. If the recipe calls for passata I may (or may not depending on importance of smooth texture) give these a blend with my stick blender to puree them up. A small note to keep in mind - because we aren't reducing the tomatoes some varieties can be a little more watery so you may need to reduce other liquids in a recipe a little or just simmer your recipe for a little longer.

And that's my quick and easy way to preserve fresh and tasty summer tomatoes for enjoying in the depths of winter and hungry gap of spring.

Do you preserve tomatoes?
Are you a quick and easy convert or a full blown passata day traditionalist?


  1. I really wish I had as many tomatoes as you do, Laura. We don't plant them any more as the fruit fly seems to enjoy them but the little cherry tomatoes usually come up each year and provide enough for me to serve up in salads. I would like to have enough to make passata etc. though.

    1. No need to be jealous Nanna Chel, these are bought ones! One of my long term growing goals is to grow enough tomatoes to meet our eating and preserving needs....not there yet though. One year I did harvest enough to make tomato sauce (which felt like a small win) but still had to buy for the bulk of my preserving.

  2. I've never done canning. It's another thing I have on my list of things to learn. :)

    1. It's definitely a rewarding thing to do once you've got the space to learn and do it. But it's always one thing at a time with a transition to simple living isn't it. I've got more DIY on my day.

  3. Oh how I wish I,d seen this when I had my tomato bonanza. Love the blog and the great photos.


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