I'd like to pressure can tomatoes without adding acid as recommended by the USDA (and outlined here). The reason being is, imo, the additional acid ruins the flavor.

My understanding of the official recommendation is that it specifically relates to food safety for water bath canning. This is further supported by statements like this:

High acid foods can be safely canned in a water bath canner. Low acid foods may need the addition of acids like lemon juice or vinegar to acidify them enough to be canned in a water bath canner. Non acidic foods require the pressure canner.

There are many recipes for safely canning low acid foods using a pressure canner but despite the above statement and a large volume of research to support it, I've been unable to find a single authoritative recipe outlining a safe procedure for pressure canning tomatoes without acid. I did however find a plethora of other threads about this very topic with nothing conclusive and no strong consensus, e.g.:

How can I safely can tomatoes using a pressure cooker without adding any acid? Can I simply follow the procedure for canning another low acid vegetable like carrots or green beans? Like 10 lbs pressure / 25 minutes? Or maybe err on the side of safety and increase time and/or pressure?


According to Putting Foods By, 25th ed. (1982), you can fill tomato jars with just hot boiled tomato juice rather than requiring additional acid, and then pressure-can them:

  • 10lbs pressure / 40 minutes for skinned whole tomatoes
  • 10lbs pressure / 15 minutes for sliced or diced tomatoes

... with some adjustments depending on jar size.

However, their extensive (11 large pages) section on tomatoes notes that whether or not acid should be added when pressure canning is controversial.

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    Thank you very much for the great reference. My question then would be, why is it controversial? I understand that the acidity levels can vary but I think we can agree that any tomato substance will be more acidic than something like corn or carrots which are low acid. And canning those things without additional acid is somehow not controversial at all? This is where I get lost... is there a variable I'm missing in this? – billynoah Aug 30 '19 at 2:45
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    Personally, I don't think there is. I think the various health authorities tend to go overboard with tomatoes because, in the US, there were several botulism deaths related to home-canned tomatoes in the 60's and nobody has forgotten. – FuzzyChef Aug 30 '19 at 15:56
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    The book does not say why it's controversial. – FuzzyChef Aug 30 '19 at 16:06
  • I am curious to know if you have tried it and, if so, how it turned out. As I understand it, 240 ° should kill everything in it. I am about to can 7 quarts of raw, unpeeled, quartered Roma tomatoes with nothing added. (No acids, salts, or water). I am trying 12 pounds of pressure (altitude ~500 ft) for 30 minutes. I will try to remember to report back with results. – Bob Aug 17 '20 at 0:58

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