Every week more and more jars of preserved goodies are added to our cupboard. Canning tomatoes is especially satisfying because I know we will blow through them this winter, as we always do. This year I am putting my efforts toward simply canned tomatoes (click link for recipe!). They are versatile to have in the pantry alongside a few jars of marinara sauce (again, click for recipe!). But what tomatoes are best for canning?

Yellow Pear cherry tomatoes

There are three general categories of tomatoes: sauce, slicer and cherry. We always plant one cherry tomato in our garden so we can use them in salads. Cherry tomato plants tend to be really prolific for us, giving us tons of fruit! However, cherry tomatoes are not the best canning tomato because they are so time consuming to peel the skins from and they have high water content.

Assortment of heirloom tomatoes – mostly slicers

Slicer tomatoes are big, fat, juicy tomatoes that we all love thickly sliced on a sandwich. They are not the ideal canning tomato because they have a high water content. If you are making your canned tomatoes into a sauce, that means you will need to cook it down a lot more to simmer off some excess water.

The perfect canning tomato: sauce or paste varieties

Sauce, or sometimes called paste, tomatoes are the best for canning because they have low water content and really meaty flesh. You get lots of concentrated tomato flavor without all the excess liquid. Some of my favorite cultivated varieties include San Marzano, Roma, and Black Plum.

This season I am describing myself as a “scrapper canner”, cobbling together batches to can from multiple sources. I have some gorgeous San Marzano sauce tomatoes I’m preserving a couple times a week from my homestead. In addition, my dad planted about forty (I kid you not!) slicer tomatoes like Early Girl and Big Boy. There will be more water in those jars, so I’ll probably use those in stews and soups more than sauces.

What are you preserving during these last weeks of summer? Have any favorite tomato varieties that you reserve for canning? Tell me about it!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson