Canning tomato soup is an excellent way to preserve fresh tomatoes for a quick meal on cold winter days. Don’t forget the sourdough grilled cheese!
How to preserve homegrown tomatoes?
There are many ways to preserve homegrown tomatoes. Some of the ways to preserve a harvest are:
- Freeze tomatoes whole
- Make tomato sauce and freeze
- Water bath canning tomatoes whole, diced or in sauce
- Pressure canning tomatoes whole, diced or in sauce
- Freeze-drying tomatoes
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Dehydrating tomatoes
- Making a dish with tomatoes and freezing or canning that (chili, pasta sauce, salsa, soup etc)
Why pressure can tomatoes?
I decided to pressure can my tomatoes this year for a few reasons. First, I didn’t want to keep my tomatoes in the freezer taking up precious space. I wanted to preserve my tomatoes in a way that would make them shelf stable and avoid using the fridge or freezer to hold them. This meant I needed to dry, freeze-dry or can them.
Second, I wanted to preserve my tomatoes in a way that provided a quick meal later. I wanted to can something that I could use without much preparation at the time of cooking. This led me to thinking I would make tomato sauce, or even pasta sauce that I season with garlic, onions and Italian herbs before canning.
I chose to use the pressure canner over the water bath canner because then I wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a safe acidity like I would with water bath canning. With pressure canning I could add oil or water or even meat and not worry about botulism at all. I would just need to adjust my pressure canning time accordingly.
Can you water bath can tomatoes?
Yes, tomatoes are safe to water bath can per the National Center for Safe Home Canning. They do recommend adding vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid to insure the tomatoes pH is low enough to be safe in water bath canning. I do know many people that have water bath canned tomatoes for years without adding anything, just saying.
Depending on the ripeness of the tomato, the acidity varies some. If you don’t want to worry about any of this, your best bet it just pressure canning them. However, if you’ve never pressure canned before and water bathing them seems more appealing, you can definitely find an “approved” safe recipe to water bath your tomatoes.
Storing fresh tomatoes until you have enough for canning
If you haven’t noticed, not all the tomatoes on the vine will come ripe at the same time. My first year growing tomatoes I didn’t know this and all I could figure to do was ferment and dehydrate them. I’m not complaining though, because all of that is delicious and efficient.
Since I do buy tin cans of tomato at the store it is my goal to preserve my homegrown tomatoes in a way that I will use them in place of the store bought canned tomato. Anything that I rely on as a staple from the store is something I’m eager to learn about how to do myself. Trying to find a way to raise or grow it myself or source it locally.
I can’t remember where I heard the tip of freezing your fresh tomatoes in bags until you have enough to can a big batch. I think it was from Nicole Sauce on the Living Free in Tennessee podcast. It was so simple I was like, hey why didn’t I think of that?! Duh.
Throwing your tomatoes in a ziplock bag in the freezer until your tomato harvest is done is a great way to temporarily preserve any tomatoes that you want to use for cooking and canning. Then my goal is always to get these out of my freezer and onto my canning shelf before we fill our freezer with our fall beef share.
Using fresh tomatoes for canning tomato soup
Making tomato soup from fresh tomatoes is delicious. I was half way through preparing a tomato sauce for canning when it occurred to me that I should try canning tomato soup instead. I am so glad I did!
Home canning tomato soup with homegrown tomatoes is a great way to highlight this precious ingredient. It takes A LOT of tomatoes to make one quart of tomato sauce. 35-46 pounds of tomatoes are needed for a canner load of 7 quarts depending on how thick you cook your sauce down to (source NCHPF here). That is an official boatload of tomatoes.
This year we yielded just over 17 pound total. So yeah, it seems pretty ridiculous to cook those down in to a sauce and make two spaghetti dinners with them.
By canning tomato soup we got to enjoy more of that fresh tomato taste. With soup, you don’t need to cook out the tomato water. Tomato soup doesn’t have to be thick like you would want a pasta sauce to be. With out 17.3 pounds of paste tomatoes we yielded 12 pints tomato soup.
That’s about 1.4 pounds of tomato per pint of finished tomato soup.
Canning tomato soup from fresh tomatoes
- Peel tomatoes (save skins to make tomato powder)
- Puree tomatoes
- Remove seeds
- Place in jars with lids and bands
- Pressure can 20 minutes
Peeling tomatoes for canning tomato soup
I don’t have any special equipment here so the method I used was slipping the skins off when the previously frozen tomatoes were thawing. That’s one of the best parts of freezing your tomatoes while you’re waiting to complete your harvest. If you place the frozen tomatoes into a large tub and run water over them you can pull the skins right off with very little effort.
How to purée tomatoes for canning soup
My favorite way to purée any cooked vegetable, and for every dressing or mayo recipe, is my immersion blender. An immersion blender, also called a stick blender, is so convenient because you can stick it right into a pot and puree. There’s no pouring necessary.
Puréing something hot is a dangerous task. The worst burn I’ve ever gotten was when I was trying to make Indian saag. I was transferring the molten hot spinach into my blender when a clump of it attached to my hand. It was horrible. The most dangerous part of using a stick blender is just to remember to not lift it out of the liquid until it’s turned off. If you do you will splash and splatter food everywhere. Not that I would know personally or anything.
I use this great Cuisinart Immersion Blender it’s one of my most used small kitchen appliances next to my rice cooker. I use it to make ranch dressing, mayonnaise, puréed soups like this potato leek soup recipe and so much more.
Removing seeds from tomatoes for canning tomato soup
Removing the seeds from fresh tomato sauce can be challenging without the help of a food mill like I mentioned above. The way we did it was still very effective though. You just need a strainer with medium holes. Not a mesh strainer, or the tomato won’t fit through. Not a pasta strainer either though, because then the seeds will slip through. We used a strainer like this one and it worked pretty good. After this project we definitely want to invest in a hand crank food mill to make everything easier next time.
How much salt to add when canning tomato soup?
I use 1/4 teaspoon per cup (8 fluid ounces) of soup. That means 1/2 teaspoon per pint jar and 1 teaspoon per quart jar.
Seasoning for canning tomato soup
I kept it basic. For each pint (2 cups) I added the following to each jar:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2-1 teaspoon honey
- a pinch of dried basil
By adding the spices to each jar it meant that I didn’t need to measure my huge pot of tomato and figure out how much salt to add. Less math is always good as far as I’m concerned. Same with less moving around and pouring hot liquid.
To figure out what I wanted to season my soup with I just took 1 cup of tomato and moved it to a small pot. Then I measured and added spices and salt, tasting as I went. I took note to how much I needed to add to that cup for it to be tasty. Then I multiplied that by 2 and that’s what I used for each pint, since 1 pint is equal to 2 cups. If I was doing quarts I would have multiplied it by 4 as 1 quart is 4 cups. Enough with the math, I’m sure you get it.
Filling jars when canning tomato soup
Filing the jars is the same for any hot canning project. First I measured the spices into the bottom of each jar. Then, using a ladle and canning funnel I added in the tomato liquid reserving 1 inch of headspace. I wiped the rim off with a little white vinegar, added the lids and bands and moved them into my preheated pressure canner.
Pressure canning tomato soup
To pressure can tomato soup be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for your specific canner. The canner I use is this simple Mirro pressure canner. After getting your canner up to pressure, can for 20 minutes.
Watch the video
Wait! What About Those Tomato Skins?
I did mention that you should save those tomato skins, didn’t I? Yes! A friend told me last year that she saves the skins, dehydrates them and turns them into tomato powder. You can use the tomato powder, along with a tiny bit of water, to substitute tomato paste. You can also sprinkle it in many dishes like a seasoning for a great tomato flavor.
For those who are sensitive to nightshades, take care. Seeds and skins of tomato can be troublesome for certain people. The tomato skin powder works for my family, we made it last year and it was great. It felt good to not waste any of the tomatoes we worked so hard to grow and harvest.
How to make tomato powder from tomato skins
- Remove skins from tomatoes.
- Place tomato skins on food dehydrator leaving some space for airflow.
- Dehydrate until skins are completely dry, my dehydrator took 24 hours.
- Blend tomato skins into a powder using a blender or food processor.
- Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid in a cool dark place for up to a year or more.
I have a cheap food dehydrator like this one. It was a hand me down and it still works great. I used my Cuisinart food processor to make this powder, but I’m also lucky enough to have a Vitamix blender and that would work as well.
How do you preserve your tomato harvest?
That’s it friends, this is how we preserved the tomatoes we grew this year, 2023. All 17.3 pounds of them! Hopefully next year there will be many more, and if not I’m going to jump on the opportunity to snag some tomatoes from a local farm and can as much as we can handle.
How do you prefer to preserve your tomatoes for winter? Got any tips for me? Please share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!