3 Ways to Preserve Tomatoes [Easy]
Updated: Jun 6
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. Thank you.
Tomatoes are one of my all-time favorite veggies to grow in the summer! Tomatoes feel like the summer staple veggie here in Tennessee. Every table at the farmer’s market is covered in beautiful, multi-colored tomatoes in varying sizes. I love them fresh, in salads, on toast, or even just sliced with salt on the side of whatever dish we’re having for dinner! Sadly, tomato season is limited to Summer. Sure, you can buy tomatoes year-round in the grocery store, but they are usually sad, tasteless things. I do still want to eat tomatoes in the winter though! Many dishes call for tomatoes in some form or other. My personal garden usually produces too many tomatoes for us to eat all of them fresh, so I like to preserve them to have my own homegrown tomatoes in the winter!
I love preserving my own harvest as it ensures high quality! I KNOW it’s organic (because I grew it)! I KNOW there were no pesticides or other chemicals used! I KNOW there were no nasty additives or ingredients added to my sauces! Preserving my own ensures quality, and there’s just something special about producing your own food!
Here are my three favorite ways to preserve tomatoes to be enjoyed in the winter:
1. Oven canned
This is my grandmother’s recipe that she gave to me on a piece of paper a few years ago. And I’m so grateful because I had never heard of oven canning, and It’s SO much easier than water bath canning!
Peel the tomatoes
This can be done by blanching the tomatoes. Place in boiling water for about 1 minute, and then immediately transfer into cold water to stop the tomatoes from cooking. The skin should peel away naturally, making peeling much easier.
Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters (personal preference). Leave very small tomatoes whole.
Pack in sterilized jars (16 ounces). Press lightly to make the liquid cover the tomatoes. Do not add water.
Add ½ teaspoon salt to pint and 1 teaspoon to quarts.
Use two-piece lids, and hand tightens only. Set in a cold oven. Leave a little space between the jars, not touching.
When all jars are placed in the oven, set the oven to 275 degrees. Set the timer for 45 minutes. Do not open the oven for 8-10 hours, or leave overnight.
After removing the jars, check the lids for a good seal. Clean jars and store them in the pantry. If the jars have not been sealed, store them in the refrigerator, consume them within 10 days, or transfer them to a freezer-friendly container and use them within 6 months.
I used this method for the first time this summer, and it worked PERFECTLY! It is SO much easier than water-bath canning. Bonus, the oven only heats up to 275, so the kitchen does not get too too hot.
One thing to think about ahead of time is, whether will you need your oven for something before the 8-10 hours have passed. I did make this mistake once and had to save my baking for the next day. Not a big deal, but note: this method takes a bit of forethought.
2. Tomato sauce
This is my most used method of preserving tomatoes, and it’s because we eat a LOT of pasta and pizza in my house! We love a good sourdough pizza! Again, knowing that the sauce is homemade and free of additives and the tomatoes were pesticide-free is such a good feeling! I will say, I hate peeling and coring tomatoes. I feel like it's a waste of food, but mostly, I just don’t like doing it. The result is a chunkier sauce than you would buy at the grocery store. We love it, but if you like smooth sauces, I’d recommend that you peel and core your tomatoes.
Making the Sauce:
Ingredients: Tomatoes, salt, lemon, garlic, onions, basil, oregano
Prep your tomatoes. Wash, and remove any bad spots and the stems. (Remove the skin and seeds as well if you like smooth sauce)
Wash and de-stem your herbs (if fresh)
Cut up the onions and garlic
Blend all ingredients
Pour the mixture into a large pot to be cooked on the stove or a crockpot
On the stove: Cook on medium/low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally
In the crockpot: Cook on low for 8 hours
Canning the sauce:
While the sauce is cooking down, wash and sanitize the jars and lids. (16 ounces) I usually sanitize my jars by placing them in the canning pot while the water comes to a boil. Here is a good canning kit with everything you will need.
Fill your canning pot with water and begin heating it up about half an hour before the sauce is done cooking.
After the sauce is done cooking, and the water is boiling or nearly boiling, pull out your jars, and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Using a funnel, add your sauce, leaving a half inch of headspace. The sauce must still be hot. If the sauce has cooled down, reheat it. Adding jars of cooled sauce to boiling water risks the jars busting in the water from the temperature difference (I learned this the hard way).
Wipe down the tops of the jars, to ensure there is no residue that could prevent the lid sealing.
Using 2 part lids, hand tighten only, and place them in the boiling water.
Leave the jars in the boiling water for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, pull the jars out, setting them on a towel. You should hear little pops, and that is the lids sealing themselves!
After the jars are cooled, write the date on the lids. Canned sauce lasts about a year, and you will NOT remember when you canned it, trust me. If any jars are not sealed, place them in the fridge and use them within 10 days.
3. Oil-packed tomatoes
Oil-packed tomatoes are a relatively new method of preserving tomatoes for me. These do need to be kept in the refrigerator, not the pantry, but they will last indefinitely in the refrigerator (although I’d recommended eating them within about 6 months). This method is by far the easiest as you don’t have to dice, core, peel, or blend the tomatoes!
Ingredients: Cherry tomatoes, olive oil (basil, oregano, and garlic are optional to add flavor)
Wash your cherry tomatoes and lay them on a baking sheet. These will make a mess when they bake on the sheet, so I like to use this silicone mat to help keep my pans in good shape. Also, crush and peel any garlic you wish to add, and place that on the baking sheet as well.
Bake your tomatoes and garlic at 350 for 30 minutes.
Once the tomatoes are cooked, add them to a glass jar with any herbs you wish to add.
Pour olive oil into the jar to cover the tomatoes. Take a butter knife and run it down and around the edges of the jar to remove any bubbles.
Enjoy! As you remove tomatoes from the jar, be sure to continue to press the remaining tomatoes down so that the oil covers them. Anything above the oil, won’t be preserved and will likely mold. If that happens, don’t worry! Remove the moldy bits, and the rest is fine to continue eating.
And that's it! 3 ultra-easy, healthy, and delicious ways of preserving your summer harvest of tomatoes! I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Let me know in the comments which method I talked about is your favorite! OR let me know if you have a different way of preserving tomatoes that I should know about!
Want to learn more about gardening and cooking? Visit my homesteading page to learn more!