Prices for Canning Tomatoes

kim_in_indianaJuly 23, 2007

This forum has been a lifesaver. Thank you all so much!

This is only my second year at market so I still have a lot to learn!

I sell organic produce, almost entirely heirloom varieties, at market. However, I was asked what I would charge for 200 lbs of "canning" tomatoes. I haven't even a clue what to charge for such a large quantity of less than premium tomatoes. I've learned from this forum not to give my stuff away, but I haven't ever seen this subject brought up. Can anyone give me an idea?


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dirtdigging101(7 - NC)

i have peopl;e ask me the same but i just do not have that many lesser tomatoes. if i did it would be like $ 0.50 per pound or maybe less

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 5:55AM
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wackybell(z5 WI)

I've always wondered myself what a canning tomato is? This is my 3rd season. My First year everyone at market wanted "canners" however these people refused to pay more than $5 for like 30 lbs. Naturally I didn't sell many "canners". My second year I reduced my tom production. Frankly I think that bargin hunting market customers prey upon new growers. Some of my customers my first year, are no longer b/c I've wised up about prices, and their nickel and dimeing methods.

But to answer your question I have to ask one. What are you selling heirlooms for now? $2.00? $2.50?

I still wouldn't charge less than $1 per lb. You still have to think about your labor in growing the toms as well as the labor involved in harvesting 200 lbs.

One more thought about "canners". I personally wouldn't can any fruit or veggie that is diseased or split with white mold growing on it, etc, etc. This only increased your risk of botualism (spelling?) and other canning funk.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 10:03PM
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Thanks dirtdigging and wackybell for your help on this.

I don't really know what a "canner" is either, but I thought it might be tomatoes that are cat-faced or deformed. Not moldy or anything, but maybe not ripe all over. I don't know if I'll be able to get 200 lbs either.

Earlier and later in the season last year, I was able to get $5 for a quart of mixed organic heirloom tomatoes, $3 for a pint of mixed cherries. (I got the idea from this forum!) During peak tomato season, I got $3 a quart for large tomatoes and $1 for the cherries. And of course, I might not be able to get that much for them this year. I've already discovered that what sells this year may not sell next year! This year, I must have had at least 30 or 40 people ask me for mint. Next year I will lay in a good supply, but then no one will want it!! :)

It would be great to get something for some of my not so perfect produce. I usually give it away to neighbors, freeze it for myself, or throw it into the compost. What about a "bargin bin"? Has anyone ever tried this? Did it work?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:40PM
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dirtdigging101(7 - NC)

you are not supposed to grow imperfect tomatoes lol

i put them in seperate boxes and fill them up a good 20 lbs. the funny thing is at every market someone looks in th eback of my truck for them. i charge 10 dollars per box and they sell but like i said some one usually looks for it

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 6:04AM
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Can't help you on price, Kim, but check local wholesale rates and add to it.

As far as canning tomatoes, that's a pretty vague term. It would depend on the end product. If I'm making juice or salsa where I cut fruit first, then I can handle a little roughness and irregular shape. Catfaces are a waste.

For ketchup or spaghetti sauce, then most would prefer the plum/pear types with high soluble solids. These would be the Roma, San Marzano and similar varieties.

If canning whole tomatoes, then want the size which fits in jar being used. Those should be as perfect as possible because you have to scald and skin them first. Cutting out junk is a waste of time.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 7:06AM
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Where we live, when one buys a bucket of "canners", they are paste or roma types.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 10:35PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

My local paper has an ad every day from a farm near by. They sell a half bushel of canning toms for $7.

"Paste" tomatoes have more "meat," less seeds and are not as juicy as slicing tomatoes. Opalka and Heidi are far better tasting paste types, than Roma's IMO. They're also very productive.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 1:04PM
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One grower that I work with is selling a bushel of canners for $13.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 8:41PM
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i sold a half bushel of san marzanos this past saturday for $23...the customer brought his own empty box to put them in. i asked $25...he offered $20...we compromised. i will continue to ask $25. a half bushel is about 20 pounds.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 8:31PM
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The customer who requested 200 lbs of canning tomatoes specifically requested no Romas. She said standard heirloom tomatoes make better sauce and juice. I asked 60 cents a pound and she actually thought my price was too low! (kicking myself now!) I will attempt to sell some of my Romas and Amish Paste in bulk at market this weekend. Randy41, I know that prices are regional. I can't sell my stuff locally for what I can get for them a mere 40 miles north. Where are you located? I don't want to underprice myself, but I don't want to price myself out of business either. Thanks to everyone for their insight on this!!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 9:10PM
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Kim-I sell at the Blacksburg Farmers Market in Blacksburg, VA. I sell there because the shoppers have money to burn. Other markets in this area are not so easy.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 8:49AM
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