Many recipes include Canned Diced Tomatoes. Why not make your own with those local and fresh end of summer tomatoes? They’re very budget friendly and taste so much better than what you can buy in a store. Stock your pantry and have that fresh tomato flavour all winter long!
CANNED DICED TOMATOES
Canned Diced Tomatoes is an additive type of recipe. They’re best used in dishes that require chunks of cooked tomato. Think of dishes such as pot roast, or foods that require longer cooking times, such as stew and chili. Pop open a jar anytime you need to add tomatoes to a recipe.
Having these tomatoes on hand eliminates the need to buy canned tomatoes at the store. All you need is three ingredients and a little patience. Besides, canning can be a family event. Get everyone involved and make it a fun day. The reward is enjoying the fruits of your labour in the winter months when local tomatoes are not available.
WHY YOU SHOULD PREPARE CANNED DICED TOMATOES AT HOME
You can find diced tomatoes in the canned vegetable section of most local grocery stores. But, the taste of homemade is much better. When you make your own, you can control the sodium. You also eliminate the use of chemicals and preservatives found in the store-bought variety.
I find that most of the diced tomatoes you buy at the store are okay in a pinch. I do use them from time to time, but there’s one thing particularly that I don’t like about them. Most of the brands leave some of the skin on the tomatoes. I don’t know about you, but I do not care for cooked tomato skins.
The skin doesn’t break down very well at all. If you get a fair sized piece of it, you’re left with this weird, chewy bit that’s hard to swallow. Take the time to prepare the tomatoes now, you’ll save yourself time and energy when preparing meals later!
ONLY 3 INGREDIENTS!
Here’s the deal. You can prepare this recipe as a small batch or you can make enough to feed an army. It really doesn’t matter how much you make, because the recipe for these tomatoes is not so much a recipe as it is assembly instructions.
You need tomatoes – the amount is up to you – and salt and lemon juice. That’s it! I would highly advise that you use roma or plum tomatoes for canning purposes. They are meatier and have less moisture content.
Use good salt. Don’t use regular table salt. Most table salt is iodized, which basically means that it’s not pure salt. It has been chemically treated with potassium iodate. I have not put this to the test, but I have read so many times that normal table salt may cloud the liquid in your processed tomatoes. Use good kosher salt or salt clearly labeled preserving salt.
Many canning professionals will tell you that you should use store-bought bottled lemon juice instead of fresh squeezed lemon juice. I have used both, but will only use bottled lemon juice if I’m preserving a large amount for long term storage.
Fresh lemon juice is fine if you plan to use the tomatoes in a few days. Bottled lemon juice has the perfect amount of acidity, which will guarantee the right levels for your canning needs. Fresh lemons can vary in terms of the amount of acidity. Bottled lemon juice is often cheaper too!
WATER BATH CANNING METHOD VERSUS PRESSURE CANNING
Until this year, I have only ever used a water bath canner. Recently, I purchased a pressure canner and I absolutely love it! I will most likely use it regularly moving forward.
Here’s the thing – you can use a pressure canner for all canning needs, but you cannot use a water bath canner for every recipe. This recipe, particularly, will work in both. A water bath canner is used to can and preserve recipes that have high acid levels. In the case of Canned Diced Tomatoes, there’s plenty of acid with the tomatoes and the lemon juice.
In the recipe card below, I have included instructions using a pressure canner. If you’d like to use a water bath canner, you can refer back to my previous canning recipes. My Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles are a great example of water bath canning.
STORING CANNED DICED TOMATOES
Once you have safely removed the jars of processed Canned Diced Tomatoes from the canner, and they have cooled completely, it’s time to store them.
Storing properly is just as important as every step you take to ensure your efforts are safe and sterile. The first thing I like to do is wash the jars. Sometimes, the jars will be covered with a residue from the boiling process. This normal and will depend on your water source. If I can in our city apartment, the jars are not too cloudy at all. But, at our home in the country where we use well water, the jars will have a chalky, white residue on the outside.
You can wash the jars under warm running water with a little bit of dish detergent. Dry the jars well with a clean towel. Next, it’s important to label them properly. Trust me – if you fall in love with canning, you’ll come to rely on labels. In the beginning, I could easily mistake a jar of canned tomatoes with a jar of salsa or a jar of sauce!
Your label should include the name of the recipe and the date you made it. Store the jars in a cool, dark place. You don’t need to push them all to the back of the corner in your unfinished basement! Any pantry or cabinet will do as long as it’s not directly above a heat source. I store mine in a built-in pantry under the stairs. Just keep them cool and way from direct light to prolong the shelf life.
Canned Diced Tomatoes
- 8 500 ml mason jars with screw bands and new, unused sealing discs.
- Pressure Canner
- Jar Wrench/Lifter
- Canning Funnel
- Non-metallic Bubble Remover
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- 21 pounds plum (roma) tomatoes peeled, cored, and diced
- 8 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons salt
To Prepare Mason Jars:
- Wash mason jars and screw lids in soapy water and rinse soap off well under running hot water. Place clean jars on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 200 degrees. Set screw bands aside. Next, boil a kettle of water and pour into a clean glass bowl. Carefully submerge the sealing discs in the bowl of hot water. Set aside.
- To peel the tomatoes, start by bringing a small pot of water to a full boil. Next, just slightly score the bottom of each tomato making an X with your knife. Don't cut too deep – the point is to just slice the skin. Next, place a bowl of ice water in your sink. Once the water comes to a full boil, carefully drop about four tomatoes into the hot water for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and place directly into the ice water. Place four more tomatoes into the hot water. Continue to do this until all tomatoes are done. You will notice that the bottom of each tomato has opened up. You can now use your finger to peel the skin off, placing the peeled tomato into a clean bowl. Once done, chop the tomatoes, removing and discarding the core.
- Remove the sterilized jars from the oven. Ladle the diced tomatoes into prepared mason jars using a funnel to prevent the mixture from touching the rim of the jars. Really pack them in tightly, pushing the tomatoes down into the jar with a clean spoon.
- Add one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar.
- Wipe down the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel to ensure none of the tomatoes have come in contact with the rim.
- Carefully remove the sealing discs from the hot water with a magnetic lid lifter. Position the sealing disc directly onto the lid of the jars. Do not touch the underside of the lid.
- Screw on the screw bands until firm – do not apply pressure! Just use your fingertips to tighten the screw bands.
- Next, prepare your pressure canner according to the instructions for your particular brand, make, or model.
- Using the jar lifter, place the jars into the canner and place the lid on securely.
- Process for 30 minutes using a 10 pound (69 kPa) weighted gauge. Be sure to adjust pressure for your altitude if over 1000 feet. Time the processing from the time the canner has reached full pressure. Once done, turn off the heat and allow canner to de-compress naturally.
- Carefully remove each jar from the canner using the jar lifter. Do not tilt the jars or try to wipe them dry. Place jars onto a wire cooling rack that has been covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Leave the jars to cool for a minimum of 12 hours. Once cooled, wipe the jars of any residue that might have been transferred to the outside of the jar during the boiling process. Label the jars and store in a dark, cool cabinet.