Canning tomatoes

Asked August 24, 2018, 12:16 AM EDT

About 3 weeks ago, we canned tomatoes with my aunt. We used her old canning recipe, which was just tomatoes - no lemon or citric acid. What would you suggest? How can we tell if they are ok? Is there something we can do so we don’t have to throw them all away?

Marion County Oregon

4 Responses


Thank you for your question. It's an important one!

Tomatoes must be acidified to make them safe for water bath canning. Since acid wasn't added to the tomatoes before canning them, there's a possibility that botulism toxin could develop making them incredibly unsafe to eat. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if the botulism toxin is present. I'm sorry - but the recommendation is to throw them out. The risk isn't worth it.

We do have a hotline that you can call to discuss further, if you'd like. The number is 1-800-9354-7319; it is open Monday - Friday 9am-4pm.

Thank you again for asking!

Oops .... I noticed a typo in the phone number. Sorry about that. The hotline number is 1-800-354-7319.

Would it be possible to test the acidity levels before using the tomatoes?


We recommend against trying to test the pH of products. There are problems with consistency and accuracy. Commercial pH meters are also very expensive.