I received a phone call yesterday morning from an older, more-experienced-in-the-kitchen friend, and I'm really glad I did. I had a basket full of tomatoes that I needed to quickly do something with as they were at the peak of ripeness. I usually like to can salsa, but I didn't have all the necessary ingredients and wasn't in the mood to run to the store, so I decided I would just can whole tomatoes. I wasn't sure where to start, so I had assumed I would do some research on the internet. Then I got the phone call, which ended up saving me a lot of time when I mentioned to her what I was doing. Here were my instructions:
First of all, get some water boiling in the biggest pot you have for the number of tomatoes you are using. When the water comes to a boil, turn it off. Place as many tomatoes as you can in the pot so that they are completely immersed in the water. After about four or five minutes, take them out a few at a time and while holding under cold water, peel the skins off. (This was easy as the skins practically just slid off.)
Note: If your pot wasn't big enough and you need to add more tomatoes to the water, make sure you bring the water back up to the boiling point before adding them. The water needs to be very hot in order to make the skins come off easily.
The next step, assuming you've washed your jars, lids, etc., is to pack the tomatoes as tightly as you can into the jars. I would suggest leaving a 1/2" to 1" space at the top, as I did have some overflow during the process. Now it's time to put on the lids and the bands.
Place the jars on a cookie sheet, making sure that the jars are not touching. Put them in a preheated 200 degree oven, and leave them alone for about two hours. After two hours, turn the oven off and let them sit for another two hours or so. They are extremely hot, so it's important to not touch them for a while.
I followed those instructions and ended up with jars of sealed tomatoes, and it was so easy! It probably took around 30 minutes or less to get the tomatoes in the jars and into the oven - much less time than I had expected.