How To Preserve Tomatoes in Olive Oil

How to Preserve Tomatoes in Olive Oil is a guide for a simple preservation method that does not require any special tools.

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Perhaps I could have waited for better weather instead of a hot July day for this lesson. But my very first experience with hot water canning left me feeling like it was a hot afternoon spent with very little product to show for such lengthy work.

Aren’t they cute? These delicious little red tomatoes are fresh from the garden all packed inside mason jars and ready to be enjoyed. It took me years to try the whole canning thing. It seemed way too overwhelming and to be quite honest I hardly ever grew enough veggies or fruits to where it was necessary. I did want to learn and found it a necessary skill to develop in my from-scratch farm-style kitchen. One summer day I overspent at a farmers market and decided to teach myself.

Don’t misunderstand me, there is a place for canning between jams and applesauce. I am glad I finally learned for sure. But for the veggies, I say, let’s impart another method in an attempt to escape a bit of that all-day heat that one endures in the preservation of food. Shall we?

Why I Prefer This Method Over Canning

Our farmhouse kitchen is small compared to most other kitchens out there. Our house is old and in older homes, the rooms are separated by walls. There were no open floor plan concepts in homes of the past. Which I don’t enjoy so it is a good thing for me. Although when you have a small roomed-off kitchen in the back part of an old house you tend to have a hot kitchen in the summertime.

Which just so happens to be prime time for canning with all the fresh garden variety coming in during that time of year. Nothing is appealing to me about the thought of a hot steamy kitchen in the dead of summer. So with a little digging and learning, I came across this gem. Preserving our summer bounty in olive oil.

If you were not aware. People have been packing and preserving food in olive oil for generations. Possibly longer than the canning method itself. Once I heard of this method, I had to try it myself. It seemed way too easy of a method to work. However, I am so glad I did because it has become my favorite way to eat tomatoes, cook them and of course, preserve them.

If you love preserving tomatoes in olive oil you will also enjoy making your very own sun-dried tomatoes to preserve with this same method. Be sure to check out the full tutorial for How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes in the Oven.

What You Will Need To Oil Pack Tomatoes

Tomatoes (any type you like)

A large bottle of your favorite olive oil

Mason jars (I use pint-sized jars but any size you prefer is fine)

Sea salt

Baking dish

A bundle of rosemary or thyme (optional)


Slice tomatoes in half or core them. Place them in a baking dish like the one shown.

tomatoes being cored on a butcher block

Dash them with some salt and you can add some rosemary or thyme if you like a bit of herbs to help season. If not, simply them leave out. Bake at 300°F for about 20 – 25 minutes.

dish of tomatoes to be preserved in olive oil

The desire here is to warm them through until their skin splits. Not to cook them. Once done, let them cool before handling them. You can take the peels off if you would like. They peel easily off by hand. Using an awaiting mason jar, begin packing them inside. Smashing them down as you fill. Once at about the rim level, pour in the olive oil.

jars of preserved veggies packed in olive oil

Take a butter or steak knife and run it along the sides to get out any air bubbles that may have gotten stuck. Fill the jar with a bit more olive oil if needed. Make sure the tomatoes are underneath the oil completely. Wipe the rim and place the lid on. Store them in the refrigerator.

When preserving food this way, the trick is to make sure the tomatoes are completely under the oil and never exposed to oxygen. Oxygen is what will create mold. Make sure the tomatoes are submerged underneath the oil each time you scoop some out and add more if you need to. These tomatoes will last several weeks or even months if you make sure to top them off each time you open the jar.

two mason jars filled with tomatoes packed in olive oil


Does it matter the type of tomatoes you use?

No, it does not. I use all sorts of different tomatoes, honestly, I any thing that grows I keep. So it doesn’t matter if they are full-sized tomatoes or cherry tomatoes I do a large batch and preserve them all in the same jars.

Should I use extra virgin olive oil or pure olive oil?

I happen to pure olive oil but extra virgin olive oil will work just fine for this too.

How long will they keep in the fridge?

These tomatoes will last several weeks or even months in the fridge as long as the tomatoes are contained beneath the oil so that no oxygen can get to the fruit inside. If you open the jar and scoop out any tomatoes be sure to wipe the rim and top off with oil to ensure the fruit stays beneath the oil line and there are no bits around near the surface.

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Pint Size Mason Jars 12 Pack

Olive Oil Dispenser

Baking Dish

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