Virginia Willis shows us How To Prep for Canning as she makes Italian-Style Canned Tomatoes, as seen on her Course Canning, Pickling and Preserving with Virginia Willis on Food Network Kitchen.
Recipe courtesy of Virginia Willis

Italian-Style Canned Tomatoes

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr
  • Active: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 1 quart
Canned tomatoes are a home canner’s dream. Who doesn’t want to gaze at rows of jars of their own home-canned tomatoes lined up like soldiers in the middle of winter? That’s winning! The deal is that to do anything of any quantity, you have to put up a lot of tomatoes. According to the National Center for Home Preservation, an average of 21 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts! Please notice this recipe is for 1 single quart and you will need to scale up accordingly.



Special equipment:
Boiling water canner with a rack, canning tongs, quart jars
  1. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet or line it with a clean towel. Set aside.
  2. Wash the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Cut a small “X” in the blossom end, or bottom, of each tomato with a paring knife. Dip the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, then immediately plunge them into the ice bath. Slip off the skins and remove the cores. 
  3. Heat the tomato juice in a small non-reactive pot until simmering. Place the canning rack in the canner and fill the pot with water; bring to a boil over high heat. 
  4. Place a still-hot, clean quart canning jar (see Cook's Notes) on the prepared baking sheet. (This will help contain any dribbles or spills and prevent the jars from directly touching the metal.) Place the lemon juice and salt in the jar. Add the basil leaves. Pack the tomatoes into the jar one at a time, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets and leaving at least 1/2 inch of headroom. Cover the tomatoes in the jar with the hot tomato juice, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. 
  5. Using tongs, place the jars on the rack in the canner. The water should cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover the canner. Return the water to a boil and boil gently for 85 minutes (at altitudes less than 1,000 feet elevation; see Cook's Note). Using tongs, transfer the jars to a towel to cool. If the seal works and fits properly, the metal lid will be slightly concave within 24 hours of processing. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year. 

Cook’s Note

For both pints and quarts, add 5 minutes processing time for altitudes between 1,001 to 3,000 feet elevation, 10 minutes processing time for altitudes between 3,001 to 6,000 feet elevation and 15 minutes processing time for altitudes above 6,000 feet elevation. It is important to use bottled lemon juice so that the acidity is consistent and the proper strength to affect the pH. High-acid foods such as fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters with a pH level of 4.6 or lower can be preserved by boiling water canning (low-acid foods, such as canned meats and fish, require a pressure cooker). Boiling water canning makes use of a large pot that’s tall enough to fully submerge canning jars by at least an inch of water. The pot is used for both sterilization of jars prior to filling and for boiling the jars once they are filled. You don’t necessarily need to purchase a boiling water bath canner if you don’t already have one. Any large, deep stockpot equipped with a lid and a rack can double as a boiling water canner. Keep in mind: The pot must be large enough to fully surround and immerse the jars in water by 1 to 2 inches and allow for the water to boil rapidly with the lid on. It is not necessary to sterilize jars beforehand if processing jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes of longer. The jars should instead be freshly cleaned and well washed in hot soapy water. Any jars processed less than 10 minutes must be presterilized and the lids and rings placed into simmering, not boiling, water. Rings can be reused, but lids should be new and used only once for boiling water canning.