Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Canning Tomatoes

I've spent the last couple of days canning tomatoes. I so enjoy the whole process of taking fresh picked tomatoes and turning them into canned goods that we will enjoy all winter long. There's just something very satisfying about this.

If you're new to canning (or are contemplating getting started) check out Ball's getting started guide. It will give you the basics about the whole canning process. One thing I want to point out about canning......ALWAYS make sure to use a tested recipe (like Ball's recipes) and follow the instructions exactly. There are a lot of canning recipes on the internet, and they may be fine, but, to insure the safety of your finished product, it's wise to make sure the processing times have been tested and accurate. One advantage to home canning is you can control the amount of added salt (and sugar, to some extent) of your finished product. While that is an advantage, you also don't want to subject your family to unsafe food products.

Here's the recipe I used: Crushed Tomatoes. If you notice they add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice  (or 1/4 tsp. citric acid) for pints or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or 1/2 tsp. citric acid) for quarts. Why? To make sure you have enough acidity to kill any harmful bacteria. While tomatoes are a high acid food, some varieties of tomatoes are considered "low-acid". So adding the lemon juice/citric acid ensures there is enough acidity. I can't stress enough the importance of this. Make sure you add it to EACH jar.

Now, hopefully,  I haven't scared you about canning and you're ready to get started. The process is really pretty simple. First thing you need to do is remove the skins. Here's the method I use:

1. Wash your tomatoes.
2. Begin boiling a large pot of water.
3. Insert a few tomatoes at a time (enough to fill the pot, just touching)

4. Once the skins of the tomatoes start to split, remove and immerse into a large bowl of ice water. You don't have to immerse them in ice water if you don't want to, but, I highly recommend it if you don't want to burn your fingers (ask me how I know this). Trust me on this, it will make your canning much more enjoyable if you put those tomatoes in ice water!

5. Once those tomatoes have cooled off, cut out the stem end and peel the skins right off!

Now, following your recipe, you're just going to start chopping up those tomatoes as you remove the skins right into a large stock pot. I guess you could also remove ALL the skins, then go back and cut up the tomatoes. That's not how I do it. Your call.

Once you've got enough chopped up tomatoes to fill your stock pot. Start heating up the tomatoes until it begins to boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes and begin the whole canning process.....

1. Sterilize your jars.
2. Add lemon juice or citric acid to the jar. Also, add salt if you'd like.
3. Fill the jar with the hot tomatoes leaving a generous 1/2 inch head space (the wide mouth funnel found on this page is very helpful).
4. Remove bubbles. Wipe rim.
5. Place heated canning lid on jar. Place ring over lid and tighten.
6. Bring the water in the water bath canner to a boil.
7. Add the filled jars into the water bath canner (The secure jar-lifter found on this page is also helpful).
8. When the water comes back to a rolling boil, begin your processing time.

9. When the processing time is up, shut-off the heat and remove jars to cool.
You'll start hearing the jars ping as they are sealing. When the jars are cool, check to make sure the jars have sealed by pressing on the jar lid, it should not flex up or down. Use any unsealed jars immediately or throw out if in doubt of the food safety.

That's it! Even if you didn't grow any tomatoes, check your local farmer's market, fruit stands or grocery stores for some fresh tomatoes to can up. Here's some other fun tomato recipes you could try:

BBQ sauce
Basil-garlic tomato sauce
Bruschetta recipe
Cajun herb seasoned tomatoes
Dilly tomatoes
Fiesta Salsa
Grandma's chili sauce
Green tomato salsa verde
Herbed tomato juice
Homemade tomato sauce
Italian style pasta sauce
Pizza sauce recipe
Taco sauce
Tomato ketchup
Tomato preserves
Zesty salsa

Happy canning!



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