You'll love this recipe! Canning whole tomatoes is a delicious way to enjoy your summer bounty year round. This is the tastiest pickled tomatoes you can make! Bursting with flavor and herbs, this tomato recipe is pickled in the Kavkaz style.
Kavkaz Pickled Tomatoes
Kavkaz is the a region that encompasses Armenia, Georgia, parts of Southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, and North Caucasus. Generally known as the Caucasus region, or Kavkaz (кавказ) in Russian. The food is rich and flavorful, often using herbs, vegetables and spices. Compared to traditional pickled Russian tomatoes, Kavkaz tomatoes have extra flavor. You can find them sold in Eastern European stores, sometimes called marinated tomatoes (Кавказские маринованные помидоры).
What You'll Need
- Water Canner - or large pot to boil and seal your jars
- 4 wide mouth canning jars (32oz)
- Canning Jar lifter
- Plum Tomatoes - about 4 lbs or 2 kg
- Garlic - a whole head
- Red Bell Pepper
- Herbs - dill, parsley, celery leaf, bay leaf
- Horseradish leaf - a staple in Slavic canning
- Black Peppercorns
- Brine - water, sugar, salt and vinegar
Peeled or Unpeeled
Kavkaz Tomatoes, like most Eastern European canned tomatoes are always unpeeled. This makes the recipe quick and easy to make. I prefer to keep the skins on, ensuring the juiciness of the tomatoes when you bite into them. There is no need to boil the tomatoes, peel the skins or to blanch them. Simply firmly place (cram) them whole and raw into the jars. Canning whole tomatoes is much easier this way!
Type of Tomatoes for Canning
Of course, you can use whatever tomatoes you have growing in your garden. However this Caucacus style of canning whole tomatoes is best made with small, oval shaped Plum Tomatoes. They usually have smaller seed compartments when compared to round tomatoes.
- Roma Tomatoes - easily found in stores and farmers markets, easy to pack into jars, choose the small sized ones
- San Marzano - an Italian heirloom tomato with few seeds and dense flesh
- Amish Paste - thick flesh, sweet and tangy plum tomato
- Italian Gold - a yellow tomato, compact and pear shaped, perfect for canning
How Long to Boil Canned Tomatoes
USA Processing Guidelines
There is a wide variety of ways the people prepare whole canned tomatoes. I always recommend that people check the latest USDA Guidelines and NCHFP Guidelines for tomatoes. They recommend processing in a water bath for 45 minutes, ensuring everything is well and truly cooked and sterilized.
Eastern European Quick Canning
This is based on an Eastern European method, but even then processing times vary. Many Eastern European tomato recipes don't boil the canned tomatoes using a water canning method. Some recipes heat up the tomatoes in jars with boiling water for 20 minutes, strain and make brine, re-fill the with hot brine jars, and cover with a thick blanket to keep warm until it cools and seals. The tomatoes taste fresher and hold better shape. Most would never dream of processing tomatoes for 45 minutes.
15 Minute Processing
The method I always use meets halfway between the old world and new world. I make sure I have added vinegar and salt in the brining solution, and process tomatoes like I make dill pickles, for 10-15 minutes. Too much vinegar, and it overpowers the tomato brine, which has a beautiful tomato flavor, but is necessary for canning. Ensure glass jars are fully sterilized before filling.
Canning Whole Tomatoes
- Sterilize glass jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes
- Place herbs, garlic, onions, peppercorns into base of the jar. Pack tightly with tomatoes. As they heat, they will loosen, so pack tightly
- Make brine, and fill up to ½" from top of the jar. Place lid and screw in place, but not too tight
- Process in a water bath for 15 minutes, make sure water covers the top of the jar by 2 inches. Carefully remove and place on counter upside down to cool overnight. I find that placing the jar upside down ensures a strong seal as it cools.
- Check to see that the lid has sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid. It shouldn't move. If it does, then place in the fridge and use up within 2-3 months.
How Do I Know My Jars Have Sealed?
- Firmly press the centre of the lid. It should not move or bulge out indicating it is sealed
- If lid has a bulge, or makes a clicking sound, then it is not sealed and is not shelf stable. All isn't ruined, just place in the fridge and use up within 2-3 months
- If properly sealed, canning whole tomatoes will last for 1 year
Have My Pickled Tomatoes Spoiled?
Sometimes canning can be tricky, so don't take a risk. I'm a firm believe of "if in doubt, throw it out. Discard if you notice any of the following;
- if tomatoes are discoloured or moldy
- you notice an unpleasant smell
- the jar is leaking, the seal has popped
- if it's foamy or spurts fizz upon opening
How to Use Canned Tomatoes
After canning whole tomatoes, you want to leave them to marinate for a few weeks before serving. The longer it sits, the more time the flavors have to penetrate.
- Serve with your dinner alongside mashed potatoes, it tastes amazing
- As a side dish with your Plov or Pilaf
- A pickled vegetable instead of a salad
- The brine is popular as an Eastern European hangover cure
Canning Whole Tomatoes Recipe Tips
- Be generous with the herbs and flavors. I should have used more in the video, but squeezed in an extra jar to use up extra tomatoes
- Pack in the tomatoes nice and tight. If you don't want the skins to split, you can pierce with a toothpick or a fork before placing in the jar
- Double or Triple the recipe. If you have lots of tomatoes, you'll love this recipe all winter long.
- This recipe make four 32oz Mason jars, but you can also use up to a large 3 litre glass jar, popular by Eastern Europeans.
Pickled and Canning Recipes You'll Love
- Pickled Garlic with Beets
- Homemade Dill Pickles
- Whole Marinated Tomatoes
- Quick Pickled Chili Peppers
- Tomato Chipotle Salsa
- Pickled Tomatoes
Canning Whole Tomatoes - Kavkaz Style is something most of you haven't heard of before, but trust me it's worth the effort! A taste of summer to enjoy on a cold winter's day. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- 1 Water Canner
- 4 Mason Jars 32 oz (Quart size)
- 1 Canning Jar Lifter
- 4 pounds /2 kg Plum tomatoes Roma - about 20-25
- ½ onion sliced
- ¼ red pepper
- 1 head of garlic divided into cloves
- 1 horseradish leaf small piece per jar
- 1 parsley bunch
- celery leaf
- 4 bay leafs
- 20 black peppercorns
- 1 large dill bunch
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 4 teaspoons salt (used 8 teaspoons in video for double batch)
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- Wash jars and lids, and place into boiling water to sterilise for 10 minutes. Carefully remove and you're ready to use.
How to Can Whole Tomatoes
- Divide evenly onion, red pepper, garlic cloves, horseradish leaf, parsley, celery leaf, bay leaf, peppercorns and dill into bottom of each 1 quart jar.
- Pack whole tomatoes tightly inside the jar.
- Prepare the brine. Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a rolling boil. Carefully pour over the tomatoes in the jar, leaving gap of ½" at the top. Place lid and screw into place, but don't over tighten.
- Place tomato jars into a water canner, ensuring they are covered with water. Process for 15 minutes.
- Remove from boiling water using a jar lifter. Using gloves, carefully flip over upside down on the counter and allow to cool overnight. After 24 hours, firmly press the centre of the lid. It should not move or bulge out indicating it is sealed. If it pops or clicks, it hasn't sealed, so keep in the fridge and enjoy within 2-3 months.