The Best Method for Canning Stewed Tomatoes

canned stewed tomatoes
When canning stewed tomatoes, ladle cooked tomatoes into canning jars and add ½ tsp of canning salt with 2 tbsp of bottled lemon juice, or ½ tsp of citric acid per quart jar. Process stewed tomatoes in a pressure canner for 15-20 minutes.

What is the Best Method for Canning Stewed Tomatoes?

It’s best to process canned stewed tomatoes by pressure canning. Stewed tomatoes contain other low-acid vegetables like onions and celery, which make them unsuitable for water bath canning due to a higher risk of botulism.

The extra-high heat of a pressure canner is higher than the heat of a water bath canner. Even then, it is advised to acidify the tomatoes by adding lemon juice or citric acid to increase food safety.

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Mason jars full of stewed tomatoes

Canned Stewed Tomatoes Recipe

  • Author: Regie
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes


This canning recipe for stewing whole tomatoes features natural seasonings to deliver a rich depth of flavor. Use these stewed tomatoes in tomato sauces, tomato soup, or mixed into beef stew!


  • 16 cups tomatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 7 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (or 1 ¾ teaspoons citric acid)


  1. Prepare canning jars by washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing well.
  2. Boil the jars in clean water for 10 minutes, then leave them in the simmering water until the tomatoes are ready.
  3. Wash and rinse the canning lids and screw bands.
  4. Under cool, running water, rinse the fresh tomatoes to remove dirt and debris.
  5. Bring another pot of water to a boil for blanching the tomatoes. Lower the tomatoes into boiling water for 30-60 seconds until the skin splits or folds.
  6. Remove the tomatoes and submerge them in ice-cold water before peeling the skins away with your hands or a sharp knife.
  7. Core and cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters if using large tomatoes. It may be unnecessary to cut small tomatoes such as Roma tomatoes.
  8. Rinse the other veggies and then dice the celery, onions, and pepper into even pieces using a sharp knife.
  9. Put the tomatoes in a large stockpot. Add the diced vegetables, salt, and sugar.
  10. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the mixture to a boil using medium heat. Stir constantly with a slotted spoon to prevent sticking.
  11. Reduce the heat and allow the stew to simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
  12. Ladle the hot tomato mixture into hot canning jars, leaving 1-inch headspace, and ensure an equal ratio of liquids and solids when packing stewed tomatoes.
  13. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint jar. If using quart jars, add 2 teaspoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ tablespoon of citric acid per jar.
  14. Run a sanitized utensil or air bubble remover tool inside your jars to remove air bubbles.
  15. Wipe the jar rims gently with a damp cloth. Place the canning lids on the jars and apply the screw bands. Tighten until fingertip-tight.
  16. Put a jar rack into a pre-heated pressure canner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for water level and venting time.
  17. Load the jars into the canner and process pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20 minutes per your elevation and canner type:

Weighted-Gauge Canners

  • Pints at 5 lbs for elevation (0 – 1,000ft)
  • Pints at 10 lbs for elevation (1,000ft +)
  • Quarts at 10 lbs for elevation (0 – 1000ft)
  • Quarts at 15 lbs for elevation (1,000ft +)

Dial-Gauge Canners

  • Pints at 6 lbs for elevation (0 – 2000ft)
  • Pints at 7 lbs for elevation (2,001 – 4,000ft)
  • Pints at 8 lbs for elevation (4,001 – 6,000ft)
  • Pints at 9 lbs for elevation (6,000ft +)
  • Quarts at 11 lbs for elevation (0 – 2000ft)
  • Quarts at 12 lbs for elevation (2,001 – 4,000ft)
  • Quarts at 13 lbs for elevation (4,001 – 6,000ft)
  • Quarts at 14 lbs for elevation (6,000ft +)

Post Processing

  1. Once processing is complete, turn the pressure canner off. Allow the pressure to reach zero before removing the lid.
  2. Allow the jars to remain in the canner for 5 minutes before removing them using a jar lifter. Place them on a clean, towel-covered countertop.
  3. Remove them from the hot water using a jar lifter and place them on a clean countertop.
  4. Let the jars sit undisturbed at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  5. Confirm the jars are sealed by removing the screw bands and ensuring the lids don’t flex up and down.
  6. Label the jars with the date and the contents. Store sealed jars in a cool, dry place and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Canning Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 59kcal
  • Sugar: 8.8g
  • Sodium: 355mg
  • Fat: 0.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.9g
  • Fiber: 3.7g
  • Protein: 2.7g

Do You Need to Add Lemon Juice When Canning Stewed Tomatoes?

Adding bottled lemon juice or citric acid is vital when canning tomatoes, whether you are water bath canning or pressure canning stewed tomatoes.

Both bottled lemon juice and citric acid raise the acidity of tomatoes, which creates an environment that makes it difficult for botulism spores and other bacteria to survive.

Further, experts recommend bottled lemon juice over fresh lemon juice because the bottled variety has a consistent, standardized acidity.

Powdered citric acid on cutting board with fresh lemons
Citric acid with lemons

What Kind of Jar is Best for Canning Stewed Tomatoes?

The ideal jar sizes for canning stewed tomatoes are U.S. pints (½ liter) or U.S. quarts (1 liter).

These canning or Mason jars work well with both boiling water canners and pressure canners. They are sized to ensure effective heat-processing of canned foods.

What are the Benefits of Canning Stewed Tomatoes?

Some benefits of home-canning stewed tomatoes include:

  • Saves money: Save money using canned stewed tomatoes instead of buying them from the grocery store.
  • Saves time: Canned stewed tomatoes are pre-cooked, which reduces the time spent preparing tomatoes in recipes.
  • Versatility: Stewed tomatoes are a versatile, easy-to-use ingredient that can be used in various recipes or as a side dish.
Stewed tomatoes and beef stew in a bowl
Stewed tomatoes and beef

What is the Difference Between Stewed and Crushed Tomatoes?

The process of making crushed tomatoes differs from making stewed tomatoes.

  • Crushed tomatoes are made by crushing/pounding diced skinned tomatoes using a potato masher, mixing them with tomato puree or tomato paste, and cooking them.
  • Stewed tomatoes are made by cooking peeled tomatoes with onions, bell pepper, celery, salt, and sugar, under medium heat until soft.

Storage and Shelf Life of Canned Stewed Tomatoes

Store sealed jars of stewed tomatoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

The USDA recommends consuming home-canned food within a year for the best flavor and texture. Opened jars of stewed tomatoes should be refrigerated and consumed within a week.


Growing up as a farm girl, Regie assisted her grandparents in canning sheep meat and helped her mother sell canned carrots. This grew her passion for canning from a young age. As a writer, she uses her canning experience to give creative, practical ideas for preserving different foods to canning enthusiasts.

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