What variety is best for canning whole tomatoes

crabbcat(7)January 11, 2009

I've been lurking here for a while and have a two part question for all of you please. BTW i'm hooked... i live in zone 6, western Ky. Extension office is a joke except for soil tests. What are suggestions for a fairly large, tasty whole tomato canner for my area. And 2nd question, my brother-in-law's friend grew a few plants by his house here and wanted to grow some. Has anyone ever grown Mountain Fresh? Also is it a good tomato? Acidity? First i've heard of it. Thanks!

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That is a darn good question to ask and I am also going to be interested in the responses!

Each year I can up a dozen or so jars of whole tomatoes, usually in pints now that it's just the wife and I. Some years back I might do 2 dozen quarts when the kids were all home. 2nd best to a fresh garden grown tomato is a well done home canned one---somewhere around last place comes the wintertime fakes offered at the local superstore.

A few variables to consider:

  1. Firmness after processing
  2. Taste after processing
  3. Size compared to neck size of the canning jar. Wide
    mouths can be considered but they are not as sure on
    sealing. Processing twice leads to jarred mush.
  4. All the obvious variables like yield, reliability,
    color, comparitive taste.

Some years ago I found a hybrid tomato called Kada. The indeterminate regular leaf plant yields a profusion of 2 to 2 1/4" red tomatoes which are hard as rocks when fresh and not particularly tasty. However, after processing they are
pleasantly firm and tasty and come about as close to a fresh garden tomato as one can get in the wintertime.

That is really about all I can offer and I do look forward to the experience and opinions of others.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 12:18PM
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I am new to the tomato bit and can nothing, but isn't that what the Rutgers was invented for? I know it is still an easy tomato to grow.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 12:39PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Rutgers is an excellent suggestion but actually most any variety can be canned whole. We do over 100 quarts a year and have canned many different varieties including Stupice, Brandywines, Brandy Boy, Giant Belgim, Box Car Willie, etc. - often mixed together for an even better flavor - with excellent results. We just grow the many varieties we like to eat fresh and then can all the extras. ;)

There have been several previous discussions here and on the Harvest Forum too on recommended varieties and consistently, many different varieties are suggested. Paste/Roma varieties, while good for making sauce, aren't especially flavorful for canning whole.

The biggest difference in the end product seems to be whether you BWB can them or pressure can them and whether you use the bottled lemon juice or the citric acid (as the commercial canners do) for the required extra acid additive.

Freezing whole is an even easier option that many use.


Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Canning Tomatoes

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 1:32PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Several of the earlier commercial varieties such as:

Break O Day
New Yorker

are said to be good for whole canning, and some other ones that I've seen folks post about:

St Pierre

I haven't canned whole tomatoes since I was a kid and helped my mother,and that was in the 40's, LOL, so I'm just repeating what others have said. And at home back then we used Rutgers and New Yorker, as I recall.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 1:34PM
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Size IS an important consideration.

The best canning tomatoes will be the varieties that Heinz and Campbell came out with over the last 70 odd years. Heinz 1350 and Heinz 1439 are two that come to mind and are readily available on the net. Both are determinate and heavy producers which helps a bit for processing. Lyuda's Mom's Red Ukraine is a similar round red 6 to 8 ounce tomato with high production.

In indeterminates, Big beef (hybrid) can be used as a canner, but IMHO, it is only moderately good for this purpose. Lynnwood, Druzba, and Tropic would be better choices depending on climate and size of fruit desired. Tropic is adapted to a hot humid climate, Druzba runs closer to 8 ounces than 6, and Lynnwood is just about right for most of central USA.

Take a look on the web for processing varieties of tomato and you will find lots of other choices.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 1:37PM
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The reason i ask is my sister has been canning tomatoes for years. BWB She usually just cans Romas. But this year she wanted something new and bigger. she just gets what the local nursery guys plant types are. and it seems to change from year to year. I know romas have a good shelf life for getting a bunch at once. I also have some of the I bought a bunch of Rutgers this year and plan on canning myself. Earlies i'm going to grow Bloody Butcher and Stupice. I also have some of the burpee large type romas coming. Freezing didn't work well for me last year. The flavor and texture wer'en't to my liking. So i'm going to be a new canner this year...lol I also wanted to know opinions of what type would grow best in my zone its lower part of zone 6.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 2:18PM
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I just spoke with my uncle who lives in NE Al last night about Early Girl tomatoes, because I remember him saying he grew them. I keep hearing good stuff and bad stuff about them on different web sites. I've never tasted them.

He says that he like them alot and they make GREAT canning tomatoes. He said that my grandparents even grew them. Surely NOT, because my childhood memories think that the tomatoes that they grew were the best tasting tomatoes in the whole world!!


    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 2:48PM
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dvdgzmn(Sunset 17 SF CA)

You know the rule about cooking with wine: don't cook with it if you wouldn't drink it? Same with tomatoes. Don't can a tomato you wouldn't eat raw.

I can the majority of my tomatoes (only 8 to 10 plants worth) each year. I don't much care if the tomatoes are whole or crushed, but if you want whole, stick with paste types, as you will get more tomato and less water in each can. Opalka is the only paste type I've canned and it was excellent. Non-paste types I usually cut in half and squeeze out most of the seeds and gel before canning (after removing the skin, of course). Sometimes I roast them under the broiler til the skins char, then remove the skins and pour off the excess liquid, then can. Some folks call this tomato confit. In addition to reducing the water content, roasting caramelizes some of the sugar in the tomatoes, something that doesn't happen when you reduce a sauce by boiling.

The good thing about the confit method is it works with any type tomato. This last year my Cherokee Purples were exceptionally productive and I made lots of confit. I've only been canning for 6 years or so, but these were the best ever.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 6:30PM
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LOL I doubt you'll be canning whole Giant Belgiums! Even in quarts! Most of the tomatoes suggested would have to be cut up to be canned, and the request was a variety to can WHOLE.
I would suggest Heidi, which is yummy, small enough to can whole, fairly sturdy, and the plant produces a lot. Italian Gold would also hold up really well and they produce tons, but most yellows won't keep their flavor canned as well as reds. It would be really pretty though!
(You might also post this in the canning forum.)

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:19AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Carla - once the skins are removed any size ripe tomato can be packed whole into a quart jar - several of them in fact, even Giant Belgiums since they squish too. If hot packed (as is recommended over cold packing) it is even easier. ;)


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:42AM
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sorellina(z5/6 Toronto)

King Humbert and Kotlas do fabulous for me both in taste, size, and production. I've done Opalkas, but they're very large and I prefer to keep the tomatoes whole.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:45PM
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Opalka, Wisconsin 55, and Wisconsin 55 Gold are all on my grow list for next year. Maybe I can find a spot or two for a Druzba. Certainly will try and can these next year as whole tomatoes. I've grown all before but somehow never segregated them out for whole canning; they probably went on the plate as slices or into stewed or juice tomatoes.

I haven't grown the Campbell or Heinz tomatoes for a bezillion years. May be a very good idea! Do they can up Firm?

You know those outfits today are more interested in soup or juice tomatoes, and in hard green mechanically harvestable gas ripenable ones. But, 30 years ago their interests might have been very different.

To the fellow who puts up 100 quarts of whole canned tomatoes a year I comment that I am impressed with the evident size of the crowd you must be feeding and the grand wholesome nature of their taste in vegetables! That is a considerable bunch of whole tomatoes to be putting down in around 9 months!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 6:37PM
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I live in zone 7 so bradley's are good for canning here. They don't have that big core like most do so not much work to it. They are a determinate tomato plant and only fruit once. I plant 90 to 100 a year so I have plenty to can, make tomato juice and etc. I do can some of the cherokee purples. They are my favorite.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:43PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It depends on what your options are. I, for one, wouldn't want to can tomato juice but MEAT. In this respect , roma, baby roma, san marzano are better options, IMO.

Another thing is that , canning whole tomatoes require a lot of space. I prefer making sauce , with about 75% space saving. In other words, one gallon tomato makes one quart of sauce. (aprox)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Super Fantastic do very well in Zone 6b or 7 in WA State

They are hardy for early transplant, do well in hot weather and produce loads of tasty fruit. They are moderate to heavy feeders that do very well on water soluble 16-16-16 with an added touch of sulfur.

SF's peel easily and preserve very nicely using water bath method.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:45PM
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