Urban Food Garden


One of the easiest ways to preserve your surplus tomato crop is to bottle them as peeled tomatoes.  It is quicker and more flexible (small batches can be processed more easily than using a passata making machine) then most people think.  


Before you begin peeling the tomatoes you will need to gather the equipment needed and lay it out ready to start.

Equipment Needed
  • LARGE POT  To heat the water in.
  • LARGE BOWL Filled with cold water.
  • TWO BOWLS OR HIGH SIDED PLATES  To catch spillages of tomato pulp and juice.
  • LARGE SLOPS BUCKET   To put the skins and used water in.
  • FOWLERS VACOLA PRESERVING UNIT Or similar canning unit.
    Though any glass jars with good quality lids can be used.
  • TONGS  To lift the tomatoes out of the hot water.
  • Knife   Either very sharp or with a serrated edge.  I use an old serrated steak knife.
processing the tomatoes

1. lay out equipment ready to start

List of equipment needed and the order that they should be laid out in.

2. Cut the tomatoes

With a serrated or sharp knife make two shallow cuts on top of each tomato to form a cross.

3. Place in hot water

Bring the water in the pot to just below boiling point them place the cut tomatoes in the water in batches of five or six.  The tomatoes should be left in the water only until the skins at the edges of the cuts begin to separate from the flesh, usually no more than a minute or two.  

4. remove the skins

Using tongs remove the tomatoes from the hot water and place them in the bowl of cold water.  Remove the skins by rotating your fingers over the tomatoes.  If the temperature and duration that the tomatoes were in the hot water was correct then the skins will almost fall of the tomatoes.  If the skins are still sticking to the pulp then they weren’t heated for long enough or the water wasn’t hot enough.  If the skin comes off with some of the pulp attached then the water was too hot or the tomatoes were left in too long.  Adjust the next batch accordingly.

5.cut out the sepal

Cut out the sepals (where the tomatoes are attached to the plant).  If the fruits are large, cut them into smaller more manageable pieces.

6. FILL THe jar

Fill the jars with the skinned tomatoes, pushing them down to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

Note that the acid levels of tomatoes vary depending on the variety.  A general rule of thumb is that the deeper the colour the higher the acid level, though this is not always the case.  Tomatoes with low acid levels may go off unless processed using a pressure canner.  To be on the safe side it is a good idea to add citric acid or lemon juice to any tomatoes you are preserving to lower the pH level.  The recommended rates are 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid added to 500mL jars and 1/2 teaspoon added to 1L jars.  Or add 1 tablespoon lemon juice per 500ml jar and 2 tablespoons per 1L jar.

7. place the lids on and preserve using the fowlers method

Poor some excess tomato liquid over the top to remove any air pockets and wash off the seeds .  Note that this photo is of a jar that has yet to have its seeds washed off, the juice collected in the bowl is used to wash them off. The seeds need to be washed off as any left on the edge of the jar may break the seal when processing it using the Fowlers preserving method.

8. place the lids on and preserve

Place lids and clips on  and process using the Fowlers preserving system.  Photo of three Number 31 (1 litre) Fowlers jars after they have been heat sealed using the Fowlers system.  Once heat sealed the jars can be stored for several years.