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Crushed Tomatoes

September 1, 2010

Last year, Jane and I canned mostly sauce.  It took forever to cook down, and you couldn’t mess with the vegetable ratios for fear of messing with the acidity.  This year, we made an executive decision to make crushed tomatoes instead.  That way, we can make sauce throughout the year with it, with any mix of vegetables we fancy.  Also, we can use the tomatoes in soups, stews, chili and whatever else we want.

Bubble, bubble, boil and trouble

Crushed tomatoes start out with coring and peeling via a hot water bath.  We have done this inside before, but in a small, hot apartment, we have found that the outdoor grill works wonders at boiling water without heating everything else up.  This keeps the heat out, lets people enjoy the great outdoors and frees up the stove for the (giant) pressure canner and cooking the tomatoes.

Start out by coring the tomatoes; we sliced the ends off and found that slicing the other end off too helped with peeling, especially on the smaller tomatoes.  We then sliced along the whole side in quarters to split the skin.  On larger and riper tomatoes, you generally only need to core the top and slice down the side a bit.

Core the top

Slice off the bottom

Dip the tomatoes into boiling water (on the grill in our case), about 6 at a time.  We found that the  time it takes to peel the last batch of 6 is the perfect amount of cooking time for the tomatoes in the hot water.  Take them out with a slotted spoon and cool in ice water.  Peel, and move to the chopping station.

Tommies in some hot water!

Peeling away!

Once the tomatoes are peeled, they move to the chopping station inside.  As the pot begins to fill up, put it on medium heat to start the tomatoes cooking, smashing them as you stir.  Add tomatoes as you chop them, cooking the batch down.


We found that about 17 pounds of tomatoes yielded 7 quarts of crushed tomatoes, which is enough to fill a pressure canner load.  However, you can keep adding tomatoes to any leftovers in the pot to have continuous production of tomatoes.  Each quart jar gets 2 tbsps. of bottled lemon juice, so you don’t have to worry about distributing acid within the batch.

A tomato massacre!

Here you can see the tomato chopping in action, complete with classy rubber gloves.

Each pressure canner load is processed for 15 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure, as per USDA guidelines.  This was the slowest part of the process, so we recommend starting it in the beginning of the day.  Later, if you are also doing salsa or other non-pressure canned items, you process that separately while still running the pressure canner.

All in all, we used 80 pounds of tomatoes to make 36 quarts of crushed tomatoes, at a price of $2.44 per quart – not bad for organic!  We got a great deal at the farmers market by buying out their whole inventory.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2010 9:18 am

    Awesome! I love late-night canning sessions! To get the skin off of ours we actually put them in the boiling water whole, without cutting the skin at all. 90% of them form natural skin cracks while they boil or when we plunge them into the ice water afterward. It seems to save some time.

    • September 2, 2010 9:54 am

      Thanks for the tip! I usually just cut out the core, but we had some tricky tomatoes this year. I suspect because they were smaller and not super ripe.

  2. willie permalink
    September 5, 2010 8:13 pm

    Where’s mine??!!


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